Nerd Nite is like ‘The Discovery Channel With Beer’
Each month, Nerd Nite meets at the Middlesex Lounge and lecturers teach attendees a range of topics.
For the last decade, a group of self-proclaimed â€śnerdsâ€ť has been gathering in and around Boston at various bars to tackle topics like biology, the merits of intellectual property, and the most popular methods of birth control.
Known as â€śNerd Nite,â€ť the monthly get-together first kicked off at the Midway CafĂ© in Jamaica Plain in 2003, and has since grown into an international concept that puts people interested in absorbing new information in the same room for a series of lectures and in-depth discussions with industry professionals.Â â€śWhen this first started out, it was sort of focused on biology, but more recently we have been doing a lot of social science talks. Itâ€™s interesting to see what people are into … and there are a whole bunch of neat [discussions] in the works,â€ť says Tim Sullivan, host and â€śco-bossâ€ť of Bostonâ€™s group.
Described as â€śthe Discovery Channel with beer,â€ťÂ the nerds â€śgather, drink, and listen to presentations on subjects that are ostensibly of great interest to nerds everywhere,â€ť according to the groupâ€™s website.Â Sullivan says their latest gathering, on March 25, brought in experts from two different fields to speak with close to 100 attendees.
Claudia Kilbourne Lux, a sexuality educator and reproductive health activist, was one of the featured lecturers who took on the taboo topic of adult sexual education with a group of strangers huddled together at the Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge, the groupâ€™s current home base.
Prior to the event, titled â€śHonest Sex Ed for Grown Ups,â€ť organizers anticipated attendees would hold back while discussing sexual topics, but the atmosphere was comfortable and interactive.Â â€śOur presenters have been fantastic. They have been passionate about trying to get something out there and speakÂ publiclyÂ as best they can,â€ť says Sullivan. â€śWe were worried people wouldnâ€™t feel comfortable talking about [sex], so we had this grand scheme with an anonymous question box, but nobody was worried about it in the end.â€ť
With no exclusive membership, newcomers are welcome to pop in and join the monthly conversations, which run the gamut depending on the volunteers willing to lend their expertise for the evening, alongside what a past presenter called â€śinformation addicts.â€ť
â€śPeople come to them because they want to hear more about things they donâ€™t study in their daily lives,â€ť says Mary Lewey, one of the groupâ€™s head organizers and the brains behind the groupâ€™s social media content. â€śAnd to let people talk about what they enjoy doing, in front of a bunch of people drinking beer, itâ€™s probably a big weight off their shoulders.â€ťÂ In April, Lewey is bringing in several professionals with a background in design to discuss their experience in the field, and to teach the crowd about design concepts in modern society. The 20-minute talk will be coupled with a look at the 3D printing industry.
While Sullivan admits that the crowd is â€ślargely academicâ€ť and â€śthere are probably more Ph.D.â€™s than otherwise,â€ť those interested shouldnâ€™t be shy about joining the ranks of the nerds. Â â€śYou donâ€™t have to be an academicâ€”you just have to be curious,â€ť he says.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/03/28/nerd-nite-boston-is-like-the-discovery-channel-with-beer/