Sunday, 21 December 2008

When Geeks Rule The World

A couple of days ago a friend of one of the Garlik team popped in to the office. She was introduced as a Geek Anthropologist. Not Greek. Geek. Anthropologists study humanity and, as I understand it, a geek anthropologist studies that branch of humanity knows as geeks, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Co-incidentally, we were in the process of putting a new service into public beta, and it's a pretty geeky service at that (if you have never heard of FOAF - do NOT click here). So the office was a bit of a geek-fest, with people shouting syntax across to each other, wearing t-shirts with lines of code proudly displayed across their chest, suddenly and unexpectedly diverting into the detail of obscure films and random gadgets and having an all round good time. Including our friendly geek anthropologist, who blended in like any good ethnographer, whipped out a note book and proceeded to make notes in an unobtrusive "just think of me as a member of the tribe" sort of way.

Now, most of the time I think of myself as a businessman. A "tech entrepreneur" is what I claim to be. But I think underneath this thin veneer there is the heart of a geek pulsating strongly ready to burst out in an Alien-like way (Note: spurious cult movie reference). I think it traces back to my early computing days as a mainframe Assembler programmer. Sure, like any old beast, I have been shoved aside by new thrusting young alpha-geeks in the tribe, but I sit there up on the hill, a proud, old geek has-been picking at my fleas.

I am proud to have geek blood in my veins though, as ultimately geeks will come to rule the world (cue evil genius-like behavour, mwahahahaha), whatever Fiona S thinks.

"Who's Fiona S?" I hear you cry as one. Who indeed. Let's go back about 35 years. I am in a train carriage on the way back from a school trip with the cool kids. You know. Guys like Mark A, David W, Hilary P and of course the class pin-up Fiona S. We are 11 years old. The cool kids decide that, given the absence of a teacher in this particular carriage, we will pair up and do some snogging. Arrgghhhhh ! How did I, one of the class geeks, end up in this carriage? Pairs were quickly formed and there were two people left over. Me and the class pin-up Fiona. She looked disgusted. I looked at my feet. The girls went into a huddle, came to an agreement and Fiona turned to me.

"Oi, Tom", she said "you've got to leave the carriage".

"Oh, oh, okay" I said, dissapointed but quietly pleased that Fiona S, the class pin-up, had actually spoken to me.

"Yes" she said "go down the corridor and find Steve and tell him to come to this carriage for snogging".

You see, that's the lot of the true geek. To be sent away, and not only sent away but told to summon another cool kid for snogging. But our day will come, I tell you. We will rise up and reclaim our place in the carriage. Do the cool kids have their own anthropologists? No way.

And if Fiona S came up to me right now, begged for forgiveness and offered that snog that was so cruelly snatched from my grasp 35 years ago, I would merely snort with derision, quote some really cool movie line and turn away in disgust. Probably.

1 comment:

Gordon Rae said...

I too, am a geek anthropologist. And you're right, it is a very cool line. You can judge a pundit by the quality of his knockers...