NSIT Quiz Club’s Quiz Fest was held yesterday. I hadn’t gone for the sports, business, or the MELA quiz; just for general. My teammate was Ankit Sarkar, a DPS VK Quiz Club member from my batch who’s currently studying at IIIT Delhi (note the three ‘i’s) whose campus is currently functioning out of NSIT Delhi itself. Reaching there gave me a scare as I was frantically dashing around all across Dwarka to find where it was. (I had taken a different route than the one suggested by the map to I had.) Rachit had told me that the event was running on schedule so I was apprehensive about missing the prelims. Turned out that it was his usual hard-of-hearing self who mislead me. I finally figured out where it was and located the auditorium near the (non-functioning) fountain.
I got to see the final few rounds of the MELA quiz. Soon after I walked in they asked the teams a stage about the Richard Stallman – Harry Potter incident which I had asked in Code Wars 2008. That was the first of the audience prize chocolates that I bagged for answering tech-related questions.
I’ve noticed one thing about ‘general’ quizzes in general: they go into excruciating details of lots of things ranging from literature, movies, music, pop culture, history, mythology and whatnot – but computers and technology is something which gets just a passing mention at best or nothing at all at worst. The ones which do get included seem as if they’ve included as an afterthought by embarrassed quizmasters. For instance, at the recent Cradle Sports quiz (Cradle Sports were one of the sponsors at NSIT Quiz Fest) there was just ONE question on tech. (“In which university was Lycos started?” The answer is Carnegie Mellon, but I mostly got blank stares around me – and on stage. Nobody got it on stage either, which stunned me.) Even at Mahaquizzer there are hardly any questions on tech. (Asking who’s the founder of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg – in a quiz of Mahaquizzer’s level where the other questions are so good is laughable. And not many were aware of this!)
Does computers and technology deserve to be treated as a pariah in quizzes. Most definitely not! Given its ubiquity in the current century it deserves more coverage in quizzes. Given the granularity of trivia asked in other topics, technology deserves at least some mention. I’ll give an example of a question from the prelim rounds of the general quiz from yesterday’s fest at NSIT.
Connect with one word: A cephalopod, a submarine, an open source file manager, a missile defense system
How hard is to crack this answer to be Nautilus? Among alternative distros this has got to be the most famous. (I bet even many tech quizzers wouldn’t be able to name the KDE / Xfce equivalents.) The ‘problem’, I feel, is that quizzing is still stuck in a 60s-80s mindset. That definitely explains the endless amount of classic rock and old movies that gets thrown around in quizzes. The last quiz by Cradle Sports at Siri Fort had teams being unable to identify Coldplay. Seasoned quizzers at NSIT couldn’t identify the rock version of the Simpsons Movie theme by Green Day. Nor could most quiz teams at NSIT answer Nautilus. “Tornado”? “Thunderstorm”? (Actual answers given by teams.) You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Maybe this is why many didn’t get Mark Zuckerberg at Mahaquizzer 2008. Maybe that’s why Pickbrain thinks giving a photo of Jeff Bezos and a photo of the Amazon Kindle is “an extremely tough lateral thinking question”. They’ve been hit by a field which evolves at a blazingly rapid rate with so much ‘quiz-worthy’ being generated daily that they choose to deal with it by simply ignoring it.
Long digression from the story ends here. My team didn’t qualify, nor did the other team of ex-VK quizzers comprising of Varun VS and Rachit Agarwal. (I told them about the quiz and egged them on to come and participate.) But we had a whale of a time. The standard of the quiz was brilliant, especially some of the connects. The long visual connect round of 25 images with the connect as ‘Absolut Vodka ads’ was superb. That, and the jokes we kept cracking amongst ourselves. I got close to having our group thrown out with my laughing fits. Reuniting with old friends after a long time for event was real fun right down to laughing like maniacs and ruining everyone else’s dinner at Pizza Corner in Dwarka.