I'm among the oldest members of the tech support generation: those computer-savvy "kids" expected to answer digital questions on demand, fix ailing computers at a moments notice, explain just exactly why someone would bother to use Facebook, and otherwise speak for technology. Bosses, coworkers, parents, neighbors start their questions - oh, you would probably know...and, then, wham - there I am, an interested novice playing an expert.
Sure, they're grateful. Who doesn't love a little tech heroism. But, along with the questions and the thank yous come the label: Geek
They're glad to have someone who "speaks geek," "who is a geek," "who gets geek."
I've decided it's time to fight the moniker.
There are two basic definitions of geek (you know, beyond, the anachronistic circus/chicken reference):
- A person intensely interested in a particular field or hobby, generally at the expense of broader social interaction (I think we can all agree I have a lot of interests - and social interactions)
- A person interested in an esoteric subject that is marginal to the social mainstream
That second one is the one they mean. An esoteric subject. That's the one I want to tackle.
I saw this great illustration on the Both Sides of the Table blog. It shows a typical technology adoption cycle - basically what it takes to move a technology from esoteric to the mainstream:
The time is different for every technology, of course, but essentially you move from those early adopters (geeks) to pretty much normal behavior about 15% of the way in. I can live with that - 15% of us have a propensity to be geeks through our bold early adoption of challenging technologies (sounds more courageous that way).
Ok, now let's look at the technologies I'm interested in and plot those on this adoption chart:
Hmmm, suddenly doesn't seem so out of the mainstream, right?
When social media really started - back in the age of Friendster - it's true, it was the province of geeks and early adopters. That was the stage it was in. Now, digital/social/mobile have radically changed. The world's most social people have taken them over and made them their own. No longer is it a marginal activity. Instead, it is both the mainstream and the competitive advantage we all need.
S, maybe I should maybe add the Urban Dictionary definition for geek - The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult. Bring it on, laggards ;)