Call it what you will -- fandom, devotion, obsession -- certain technologies have a way of inspiring an extremely loyal following. So committed are these devotees, you might as well call them technology cults.
Sometimes these cults are inspired by elegant lines of code. Other times it's dedication to an ideal. Some are looking to transform the way software is made. Others hope to transform humanity itself. And some just want to argue about it all -- endlessly and at great length.
[ Think you're a tech fanatic? You've got nothing on these guys: True believers: The biggest cults in tech | Find out which of our eight classic personality profiles best suit your IT temperament: IT personality types: 8 profiles in geekdom ]
From the Singularity to Slashdot, each of these six tech cults has fierce devotees and, sometimes, even fiercer critics. Mess with them at your own peril.
What cults did we miss? Add them in the comments field below.
Gathering of the tribes: /. (Where else?)
Major deities: Linus Torvalds, Neil Gaiman
Holy scriptures: The Lord of the Rings; Programming Perl (aka "The Camel Book")
Ritualistic sacrifices: Roasting newbies over an open flame
Mantra: Pants are optional
Long before there were comment wars on blogs, long before Digg and Reddit and all the other "social media" sites, there was Slashdot. Its raison d'être: to scour the Net for things of interest to the geekerati, and give them a place to fight about it.
To have an article or post "slashdotted" is both an honor and a curse. It can drive tens of thousands of readers to your site and cause them to question everything from your competence to your ancestry. Pity the fool who wanders blithely into a discussion and says, "What's the big deal with Linux? Windows works just fine." His online remains will later be hauled away in Chinese takeout boxes.
"What sets the cult of Slashdot apart is that we were the sorts of people who were online before the Internet became common," says founder Rob Malda, better known to the Slashdot faithful as CmdrTaco. "So our 'rituals' involved having the Internet largely built into our lives in a way that the previous generation finds stupid and the later generation takes for granted. We come from BBSes and modems, not Twitter and DSL. These whiny texting kids don't know how easy they have it."
How does one recognize a Slashdotter in public? One doesn't, says Malda, because they almost never leave the house.
"Why would we need to go somewhere?" he asks. "We meet on Slashdot 24/7."
See tech cult No. 2: The Sirens of the Singularity