The Spirit of Trek – The Internet, Star Trek’s Final Frontier


By Mike Medeiros

Welcome to the Spirit of Trek, a weekly column where we identify and celebrate Gene Roddenberry’s vision by discovering how its messages have started to permeate throughout humanity’s collective consciousness by looking for it on the Internet and within popular culture. The first week of the year witnessed a twitter conversation of epic proportions for Star Trek fans around the world, when Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield began tweeting photos from the International Space Station. I’ll get to the conversation in question in a moment, but it prompted me to dedicate my next Spirit of Trek article to the Internet, Star Trek’s Final Frontier.

A long time Internet meme states that Star Trek and Porn were responsible for the growth of the Internet. After a quick Google search for Star Trek, 221 million results are displayed. Everything from tv shows, movies, books, images, videos, wikis, fan productions, social networking sites, podcasts, shops, and so much more are available that give credence to the role Star Trek has had on the Internet.

In the years since the cancellation of Enterprise, Star Trek has survived and thrived on the Internet. With JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek, the influence of Star Trek on the Internet has increased by leaps and bounds as new fans are brought into the fold and have rediscovered all of the Trek that had come before it.  With the upcoming film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, the various Star Trek communities have been on fire with rants, speculation, and praise for the new film with every leak, interview, and rumor.

Online services such as NetFlix, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, and dozens of other sites offer the Internet Generation plenty of opportunities to stream every Star Trek episode and movie with the press of a button. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others can put hundreds of books, novellas, and stories in our pockets. The Star Trek universe doesn’t stop there, it expands even further when the plethora of fan produced fiction, audio dramas, films, and series are considered. Incredibly, if something within the Star Trek universe sparks your curiosity, sites like Memory Alpha, Memory Beta, STOwiki, and Star Trek Expanded Universe wikis can provide you with everything there is to know about it across its various incarnations.

Many Star Trek fans are very vocal about their fandom and will often utilize social networking sites to indulge in their Trek fetishes. Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter and so many others have communities, blogs, pages, groups, and more dedicated to Star Trek. They will use these mediums to share photos, art work, stories, fan productions, chat with one another, and make new friendships with others who share a common love of Star Trek. Social media is the next best thing to happen to Trek since the birth of the Internet.

Twitter is one of these social media sites that allow people to communicate with one another in 140 characters or less. It seems unlikely that something meaningful can be expressed in such a limited fashion. However, you’d be surprised at the number of people, celebrities, and more who use Twitter to create and build relationships with people. Star Trek influence can be found here as well, which brings us to the conversation I alluded to at the beginning of this article.

Chris Hadfield is a Canadian Astronaut serving aboard the International Space Station. Since his arrival to the orbiting facility, he has been tweeting photos he had taken between projects. The photos included beautiful vistas of the planet as seen from his room with a view, as well as the various parts of the station. As expected, the messages drew quite a bit of attention on twitter, and even drew the attention of fellow Canadian, William Shatner, who played the original Captain Kirk on Star Trek

Trekkies all over the world produced a collective squee when Chris Hadfield replied as a member of the Enterprise crew.

The meeting of science and fiction spilled over into other social media when Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei, posted about it on Facebook.

Chris Hadfield noticed the Facebook posts and invited Leonard Nimoy to the conversation.

Mr. Spock confirmed his role on the away team when he responded with the iconic:

Commander Hadfield replied

That wasn’t the end of the conversation by far. Wil Wheaton, Mr. Wesley Crusher, chimed in with this offer of assistance.

In response, Hadfield stated:

The Internet erupted into a geek-gasm of epic proportions when the second man to ever walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin threw down the gauntlet with one of his own aspirations.

In that moment, the lines between science and science fiction melded when two generations of astronauts shared their love of Star Trek with two generations of Star Trek stars for the entire world to see. Past, present, and future came together on Twitter with the aspirations of mankind suddenly coming into focus.

The following day, Chris Hadfield posted this

He should exchange it for a Starfleet uniform, because my first thought at seeing the mustached astronaut clad in red with the Earth looming behind him was of James Doohan, Mr. Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer of the Enterprise. Scotty may have moved on to the Undiscovered Country that awaits us when we die, but the ship is in good hands with Commander Chris Hadfield. Through the Internet and social media, the Spirit of Trek is being kept alive and thriving like it has never done before.

The time has come to wrap up this week’s column. Thank you for joining me on this journey to discover how the Spirit of Trek has started to permeate throughout our culture with the hope that one day, Gene Roddenberry’s vision for humanity’s future will become a reality. If you come across something that you believe embodies the Spirit of Trek on the Internet or within popular culture, please do not hesitate to share it with me. I may discuss it in a future article. Live long and prosper.

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