GeekGifts

GeekPop!

Now that Christmas is less than two weeks away, Chanukah has come and passed, and you still don’t know anyone who actually celebrates Kwanzaa, it’s time to start thinking about gifts. Note, though, that these suggestions will be applicable for the less-than-orthodox of any faith.

For the kid(s)

A Pleo. I don’t care how expensive it is or how much they’ve asked for an Xbox 360 – which is much less excitement for the same amount of money – the kiddos are getting a robotic dinosaur with adaptive, downloadable behaviors. And then you’re going to take it and finally show your next-door neighbor just who rules those Wednesday night cockfights.

pleo.jpg
photo / roblee Naked Pleo and Pleo 

Why it’s geeky

Robot + Dinosaur = Duh.

Why it’s popular

The Pleo is created by Caleb Chung, the same guy that made the Furby, but it’s better, more expensive, and hasn’t had time for a massive cultural backlash. Weird tech toys haven’t gotten people this excited since the Segway.

Counterpoint

Don’t feed Pleo after midnight or get him wet.

For the significant other(s)

“That’s right, baby. I got us teledildonics.” Ideal for couples separated by time and space – or just space – teledildonics make for a connection. From tele (distance) and dildonics (crazy robot sex toy), teledildonics use various communication technologies ranging from the plain ol’ Internet to Bluetooth to enable couples to share sex toys in innovative ways from wherever they are.

In all seriousness, though, teledildonics have a lot of great applications for soldiers (the military has experimented with touch suits), the physically handicapped (imagine what Stephen Hawking could finally do), and, frankly, couples that just can’t be together as often as they’d like.

Why it’s geeky

The top minds the in field are working on open source applications, and others have already tied devices to the beats of rhythm games like “Rez.”

Why it’s popular

Well, sex…. Plus the iPod tie-ins are endless.

Counterpoint

They mostly suck. It’s a horribly bad technology right now. As Kyle Machulis, editor of Slashdong.org, said in my favorite panel of SXSW last year, Sex and Computational Technology: “It’s like trying to fuck your printer driver.”

For the parent(s)

See above. Wait – no. Though a “Hug Shirt” really would be a nice way to stay in touch. And don’t get them a Wii. I know, I know, old people like playing too, but let’s be honest, that’s just your way of getting a video game into the house for the next time you come visit. No, your parents deserve something special.

oldguygoingcrazywithwii.jpg
photo / borisvanhoytema Wii’s goin’ crazy 

You’re going to take the time you would have spent going out shopping, and you’re going to scrub every last incriminating detail from your social network profiles, blog posts, and general online personas. You’re going to Google your name and make sure not a single thing turns up related to sex, drugs, or alcohol. Then you’re going to institute a strict privacy policy where you control information about yourself and use only anonymous profiles for anything stupid. That way your parents never have to read about their pride and joy becoming an Internet meme. That’s a gift no money can buy.

Why it’s geeky

Controlling your online identity should be a concern for all geeks. Plus you get to talk about memes.

Why it’s popular

Party in peace, dude. Screw whomever you want, ingest whatever you want, and wear whatever you want. Then use public computers to blog about it in the Wikipedia entry for the movie Gremlins. Fool proof.

Counterpoint

You can’t tell your parents about it. So go ahead and buy the Wii. I recommend getting WiiPlay and Brain Age Academy.

For your buddies

Buy your friends a virtual gift. You can take them shopping in Second Life, buy them a growing gift on Facebook, or load them up with Warcraft gold bought on a shady website from Chinese gold farmers. Regardless, for this holiday season it really is the thought – or simulated reality you both agree on – that counts.

shoppinginsecondlife.jpg
photo / metaversa Shopping in Second Life 

Actually, that thought does count. A whole lot. As Byron Reeves, Co-Director of the Stanford H-STAR Institute (Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research) among many other titles puts it, “The same neurons fire when an avatar smiles at you as when a person smiles at you. The same dopamine is released when you’re rewarded with virtual money as real money.”

Why it’s geeky

Because virtual reality is finally here! Celebrate with a Second Life Tron costume. Or just get the Tron costume.

Why it’s popular

Facebook says that it has sold more than 24 million $1 gifts since they launched in February. That’s a lot of friends.

Counterpoint

$24 million? Damn.

Happy GeekPop! Holidays!