For the fifth year running, the Awards will be a celebration of Philadelphia geekery in 13 categories covering science, arts, social media, and in-real-life events and projects.
Tickets for the Aug. 15 black-tie gala, held at the auspiciously geeky Academy of Natural Sciences, will go on sale on Monday, Aug. 3.
The 2015 nominees are listed below and on the official Philadelphia Geek Awards website.
Scientist of the Year
Michelle Johnson: At the GRASP Lab at the Penn School of Medicine, Johnson is working on assistive and therapeutic rehabilitation robots. She participates in the Franklin Institute’s Science After Hours program, and Technical.ly Philly named her one of their four favorite talks from TEDxPhiladelphia 2015. WHYY’s The Pulse featured her in 2014.
Penn’s “Twitter Predicts Heart Disease” Team: Led by graduate student Johannes C. Eichstaedt, this team released a study showing how negative emotional language is connected to heart disease mortality, and how Twitter might be seen as an indicator of well being in a community. WHYY’s Todd Bookman reported on this work in January.
Peter Lloyd Jones: Thomas Jefferson University’s first associate dean of emergent design and creative technologies in medicine works through the MEDstudio@JEFF to bring a human-centered design approach to science and to encourage creative thinking in medical students.
Streaming Media Project of the Year
Out of Town Films: This Philadelphia-based filmmaking collective creates high-quality videos of performances throughout the city and offers them for free on their website. Out of Town Films also hosts pop-up shows at unusual spaces around town, for example, The Districts performed in a Fishtown warehouse loft, and Ra Ra Riot performed in a Kensington art space.
Not Nearly Nerd Enough: Two best friends create this thoughtful and hilarious addition to the Philadelphia geek podcast community, covering pop culture.
Book Fight!: A pair of Temple professors show their passion for all things literary in this insightful and sometimes heated podcast about the books they love and hate and the craft of writing, itself. They’ve also taken their production out into the field, hosting discussions at Tattooed Mom, The Spiral Bookcase, and the Philadelphia Writers Conference.
Geek Story of the Year
Analog Watch Company’s ant farm watch: Listed as one of the Best April Fool’s Pranks of 2015 by The Telegraph, this story about a non-existent ant farm watch took local and geek media alike by storm and inspired some fiery debate on sites including Philly Mag, Technical.ly Philly, Geekadelphia, TechnaBob, Design Taxi, Beautiful Decay, Complex, Fast Company, and TechCrunch, bringing attention to this startup and Philadelphia itself.
The first Philadelphia Renaissance Faire: Patrick Rodgers launched the festival to bring Philadelphia its own celebration of the medieval and fantastic and, this year, The Mountain from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Coverage of the Faire took the cover of Philadelphia Weekly and was featured by NewsWorks, Uwishunu, CBS3 and Getty Images. WHYY’s Kimberly Paynter photographed the event in May.
GroundSwell: As WHYY’s Peter Crimmins reported in April, the advocacy arm of the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance worked to protect the Philadelphia Cultural Fund’s budget allocations from being cut by 40 percent in fiscal year 2016. Helping over 100 art organizations get funded, GroundSwell blended protests and social media to help preserve Philadelphia’s arts scene.
Startup of the Year
The Monkey & the Elephant: Philadelphia’s first stand-alone nonprofit cafe helps young people who have aged out of foster care to learn work and life skills to transition to self-sufficiency as adults. What began as coffee service pop-ups in the Italian Market, at Transfer Station and at Impact Hub, launched this year at a permanent Brewerytown location. NewsWorks’ Emily Brooks reported on the pop-up phenomenon in 2014, and Human at Work blogger Susan Richardson wrote about the new cafe in April.
Scholly: Social entrepreneur Chris Gray graduated from Drexel University this June, but not before creating an app that helps break down barriers in the search for college scholarships and securing $40,000 in funding from two Shark Tank celebrity investors. With state and federal partnerships, the app is now sidely available for free to students applying for college. WHYY’s Dave Heller interviewed Gray in 2013.
Billy Penn: Launched in October 2014, this news platform designed for mobile use among young Philadelphians, blends original reporting with aggregated content from other local news organizations and hosts events around town in an effort to build a civicly engaged community.
In-Real-Life Project of the Year
Nightscape: Klip Collective has mapped lighting, animated projections and other visual effects onto Longwood Gardens’ living trees and plants, using layers of textures, colors and patterns.
The White Mountains: Ten Philadelphia playwrights spoke to residents, activists, and government officials about asbestos production in Ambler, Pennsylvania, to develop short plays about the town’s past, present, and future. REACH (Resources for Education and Action for Community Health), a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and the Chemical Heritage Foundation, is now a model for recording and sharing stories of environmental justice.
Ikire Jones’ Africa 2081 AD: The 2081 A.D. sereis of Walé Oyéjidé and Samuel Hubler’s line of Afrocentric menswear, Ikire Jones, is currently on display in the Vitra Design Museum’s “Making Africa” exhibit in Germany.
Visual Artist of the Year
Caitlin T. McCormack: Using string, McCormack expresses an appreciation of nature, the passage of time, and the interconnectedness of our world.
Cory J. Popp: This South Philly filmmaker tells stories of the fascinating people and places of his hometown using video.
Michael Norcross: An artist and screen printer, Norcross works out of Old City’s Indy Hall creating printwork and organizing socially conscious art shows.
Game of the Year
Pretense: Created by Jason Tagmire (creator of Pixel Lincoln and Storytelling Cards), this party game launched with over 1,300 Kickstarter backers. It’s a game that you play during other games: Fulfill the role you’re assigned on your card (e.g., the critic, the bookworm, the glutton), and earn a point and steal someone else’s role.
Soulfill: Developed by Little Wins LLC, this story-driven game challenges the social anxieties we all suffer by prompting players to follow certain instructions while riding or waiting for public transit. Score points by initiating and maintaining eye contact with strangers, but lose points by making eye contact with people already looking at you.
Clusterpuck99: Clusterpuck99 is a party and convention game born out of the PHL Collective game studio which hires only graduates from the Philadelphia area.
Feature-length Indie Film of the Year
“Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie“: The title character must overcome his phobia of the worst video game in the world to save his fans.
“I Am Santa Claus“: This Kickstarter-funded documentary examines the spring, summer and fall lives of professional Santa Clauses, the flawed, flesh-and-blood men who feel responsible for protecting the integrity of the red suit.
“Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere“: Inspired by the memoir by Poe Ballantine, Philly filmmaker Dave Jannetta explores the mystery, while examining the author’s life, touching on themes such as depression, suicide, the ephemeral nature of reality, and the American Dream.
Web Project of the Year
Lunar Sellout: Local chiptune group Close to Good, known for recording the entire Mega Man III soundtrack and releasing it on their website for free, surprised fans by releasing Lunar Sellout: DDR Remix, a playable remix of the original song “Lunar Sellout.” While streaming the song on their official website, you can play Dance Dance Revolution with your arrow keys.
TypeDrummer: Kyle Stetz, a developer at P’unk Ave, created an experiment to turn your (typed) words into sick beats. Anything you type into the box is interpreted as sound and played back at 120BPM.
Open Data Philly relaunch: OpenDataPhilly collects more than 250 data sets, APIs and applications related to the region for the purpose of creating a better community, more transparent government, and a more engaged citizenry. Both the new site and its predecessor were created by local firm Azavea.
Comic Creator of the Year
Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman for Dirty Diamonds: This all-girl comic anthology curated by Philadelphia’s own Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman provides a platform for women who create comics to tell their stories. Their fifth issue, and their first professionally printed one, is an anthology about comics, featuring 32 artists from six different countries.
Ian Sampson: Sampson is a resident artist at the Neighborhood Time Exchange West Philadelphia Artist Residency. Every hour he works on a project, he donates an hour to volunteer and help the community. This year, Sampson chronicled the work of his fellow Neighborhood Time Exchange artist, Kandis Friesen.
Locust Moon Press for “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream“: In 2014, NewsWorks reported on this passion project, two years in the making, which included celebrated locals such as J. G. Jones, Jeffro Kilpatrick, and New York Times bestselling author Box Brown, giving them the opportunity to pay tribute to comics innovator Winsor McCay.
Social Media Project of the Year
The Narrator, Philadelphia Police Department: The person (or persons) behind the PPD’s social media channels, particularly Facebook and Twitter, known as the “Humble and Faithful Narrator,” has a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of geek culture canon, using video games, memes, and popular film to poke fun at Philadelphia and keep its citizens informed at the same time. In September, WHYY’s Amy Quinn talked about the Narrator’s exchange with citizen sleuths following the beating of a gay couple in Center City.
FindMePhilly: Using videos and images, anonymous social media account FindMePhilly sends Philadelphians around the city on scavenger hunts to win actual cash, encouraging exploration of and engagement in the city.
Nicole Angemi’s Autopsy Instagram: @Mrs_Angemi has been shut down multiple times, but her stream of autopsy photos isn’t meant to be controversial; it’s meant to educate and inform and reveal hard truths about the body, our health, and the causes of death.
Event of the Year
Blackstar Film Festival: This ever-growing celebration of film highlights movies that often are overlooked by the mainstream press from filmmakers in stages of their careers.
J-1 Con: Created by Philadelphia’s Jason Richardson, who took home the coveted Geek of the Year award last year, J-1 Con is a convention founded to make conventions accessible, created for fans, by fans.
City Council Candidate Convention: Young Involved Philly worked with the Committee of Seventy and WHYY to produce an event to give young people of voting-age the chance to talk face to face with all of the Philadelphia City Council candidates.
Geek of the Year
Jon Geeting: The engagement editor at PlanPhilly, Geeting keeps busy creating an online community of city planners, developers and activists. Geeting also helped found the political action committee 5th Square, created the hashtag #urbanphl, and is the co-organizer of the monthly happy hour Urban Geek Drinks.
Ather Sharif: The founder and researcher at EvoXLabs, Sharif is a software engineer, a freelance web developer, and a consultant who is constantly researching web accessibility and jQuery tools to make the Internet a more accessible place. As a developer for Unlock Philly, he also founded the SCI Video Blog, full of tutorial videos that help people with spinal cord injuries perform daily activities.
Alexis Jeffcoat: From her work making Laurel Hill Cemetery a geeky place to hang out, to her fantastic lectures during Nerd Nite Philadelphia, Alex Jeffcoat is a geek with her hands in a lot of projects. She also collaborates on projects like Science on Tap and the Philadelphia Science Festival. WHYY’s Dave Heller spoke to her in 2014.