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"Geek culture" is a continually evolving thing. On one hand, many of us have worked next to the office mate who ignores the limits of professional good taste, his desk overflowing with fandom merchandise.
At the other end of the spectrum, 2011's Miss USA winner Alyssa Campanella declared herself a "history geek," to the amazement of some, and the disdain of others.
The comedian Patton Oswalt penned an op-ed for Wired magazine last year, going so far as demanding the death of geek culture, saying it has lost its meaning when anyone, including world-famous models, can claim the geek mantle.
So is there room for the "subtle geek," one who is genuinely into science and science fiction but also not standing out as "that guy" in the workplace? Joe Salcedo of the newly launched Novo Geek says yes. On Monday, his company launched a series of novelty items for properties like Battlestar Galactica (BSG), Star Trek and Dexter.
"The pie gets even smaller when it comes to spending thousands of dollars. Even within that niche, the fandom is rabid," Salcedo said in a phone interview with Yahoo News.
What Novo Geek has done is offer a compromise, both in price and visibility. For instance, rather than a life-size BSG replica uniform, you can purchase a notebook modeled after ones used by the characters on the SyFy Channel show.
"We're reaching out to people from the casual fan to the CEO; people who have their own way of expressing their fandom by using it on a daily basis," Salcedo said.
For example, their Star Trek ties are made of a cloth that is meant to resemble the fabric of uniform worn on the original series. But the Novo Geek ties actually appear entirely conventional to the non-fan, except for a tiny Federation logo implanted on the bottom of the tie's front. To someone who didn't know better, it might as well just be a designer label. And in some ways, that's exactly what it is.
"We like to call it, 'pleasantly disrupting your day,' Salcedo said. "The day is long. The days we work are long. But we want to provide that sort of joy. It has a functionality and it has every right to be on your desk."
Although you still might have to stop and explain your Dexter thumb drive to a curious co-worker.
Each week, the Novo Geek site will update with new offerings for that "subtle geek." And the constantly evolving set of offerings means an added level of exclusivity along with functionality.
"It's a new take on these types of products," he said. "That allows us to be innovative."
And it might just be easier than carrying around that framed mondo poster to the next office happy hour.
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