On Being a Geek #heweb10

Some years ago, walking to lunch during a regional IT conference, I was complaining about something to my friend Renee. Her response was "You're a geek. Get over it". I think that was roughly when I left my arts past behind and embraced my new reality.

A decade down the road, being a geek has served me well. It's taken until now for my general contracting skills to decay to the point that I might hurt myself with a saw, but in those intervening years, I was able to build a bathroom with fixtures ordered online. I finally found a digital device that Carolyn bonded with. I've kept my employer happy and, in what may be my greatest moment as a geek, I managed to move an entire college into a content management system without their noticing.

As proud as I am of that, I'm not sure I qualify as a geek anymore. Maybe something like a geek ambassador. I've lived the life but now my home has no television and is heated with wood. I don't fawn over the latest iPhone or digital anything for that matter. The real issue is I just don't care like I used to. I feel like a fake half the time I'm at work.  I think I'm better at desktop support than evangelizing a particular direction I think Linfield should follow in the maze of technology that unfolds before us.

But every year I go to the Higher Education Web Developers conference and come away somewhat recharged. I used to come back overcharged and ready to tear our whole site apart, strap everyone within arms reach to a chair for a good six hours of usability testing while I'm online running up the credit card to order a Slingbox so I can control the content on my tv from my laptop, forgetting for the time being that there's nothing on my tv to control. Now I come back reminded of how interesting my career and the people who are involved in it are.

I don't think I'll ever quite get back to that place I was at a few years ago. That's OK. I like being a geek ambassador. It's nice moving between cultures. I can remind my colleagues across the country that most people think we're freaks, yet harbor a certain envy for our skill sets. And I can remind the people who employ us that we're actually really interesting people who can tell you more about how the world works than almost anyone, because the world runs on the aggregation and understanding of information and the communication of what is learned from that understanding. Right now, people like us control the machines that let that process happen.


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