Tony Barreca (tbarreca) Tue 15 Aug 00 10:56
Yeah, the air conditioner bit was excellent. Unfortunately, prior to this conversation, I have been unaware of Mikki's excellent work in this regard. I mention this only because the A/C parable immediately raised an important issue in what's left of my mind: Does the book distinguish between hardware geeks and software geeks? While it may seem a trivial distinction to the non-geek part of the populace, the reality is that the chasm between these groups can be as deep and broad as the Grand Canyon. In my travels and travails in SiliValley engineering departments, how any times have I heard: "Don't ask me! I'm a hardware guy!"? How many times have I heard the converse? I can't count them all! Mikki, if you have not consistently made this distinction, perhaps you can fit it into a sequel. Alternatively, it could provide the framework to the type-of-geek/non-geek dating guide, so brilliantly suggested by <obizuth> above. After all, the hardware/software distinction is not so different from, for example, the introvert/extrovert differentiation used by other personalty taxonomies. Finally, I have one last question: While there is clearly a geek meme, is there a geek gene?
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Tue 15 Aug 00 12:07
Mikki does make a distinction between hardcore geeks, which I took to be the types with "developer" in their job title or description, and the more softcore variety (such as myself) who deal in content, design, or online community building.
snarly (obizuth) Tue 15 Aug 00 12:24
she also makes distinctions between hardware and software geeks, tony. excellent (and amusingly written) question. can i tell you about my favorite parts of the book? (i must say i am enjoying the fact that in this interview, my journalistic objectivity is taking a hike.) in addition to the airconditioner example, i LOVE section 3.2.4, Eating Out With Your Geek. let's just say it's another one i can strongly relate to. mikki, will you reprint that one too? also, i love the timeline of great moments in geekdom. i particularly enjoy the grafs about John Napier and Ben Franklin. come, mikki, my lovely little performing pony.
Mikki Halpin (filmmag) Tue 15 Aug 00 12:40
bad news! I have just been informed that the house I am off to for the next two days hsa no phone service! after i spent $250 getting my laptop fixed so I could be with you lovely people! there is a phone card/pay phone theory. will investiagte, worst case scenario see you all thurs afternoon, esat coast time.
snarly (obizuth) Tue 15 Aug 00 13:35
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 15 Aug 00 14:13
I love you, Marjorie. And, thanks to Mikki, I now know that my bf is a geek! Why didn't I see this before? Although, come to think of it, perhaps he's not. I have tried to entice him to build us a network so I, too, can use the lovely cable modem I gave him for Christmas in *1998*, but he is unable to tear himself away from his online computer gaming geekiness. Maybe I have the wrong type of geek?
snarly (obizuth) Tue 15 Aug 00 15:15
dad sent all my relatives email saying that i was interviewing mikki (who was the Official Fashion Consultant at my wedding, so most of them know her). dad THINKS he is a geek (which is a constant source of stress to my husband, who is an ACTUAL geek, but i digress) but dad referred to this interview as a "chat." cousin janet (hi janet!) has been lurking! she emailed me: You know, I vaguely know there is a difference between "chat" rooms and message boards, etc, because of a friend with cancer and a friend who adopted, who each got all kinds of info from fellow travellers in this manner. But since I never really grasped this brave new world, I believed that this made me a "geek" (ie: a rather uncool, dweeby person). Now, I come to find out that a "geek" is some cerebral guru who is totally in the forefront of this new computer/cyberspace world and that this is now a positive term, and that I am definitely NOT , and will never BE, a "geek". (For better or worse). see, i think this is a way more common perspective than that of the lifer geeks who have been posting here.
Farai N. Chideya (zimby) Tue 15 Aug 00 17:22
Lifer geeks. Wear the badge with pride.
Angus MacDonald (angus) Tue 15 Aug 00 17:36
Jagdip Patel (jagdip-patel) Tue 15 Aug 00 18:21
Are all software developers geeks, or only some? I am starting to think I might be a geek after all, and still. I haven't written any software myself for at least six years. However I still know all about Star Trek, and I have to admit "I'm sweating like a pig" seems a very strange way of saying "Please fix the air-conditioning". Not that I would know how to do such a thing - that's hardware. Perhaps a quick reference sheet on the API of non-geeks would be in order. Incidentally this all reminds me of "The Soul of a New Machine", which I read in 1983. Strange that the culture is just the same when so much else around the industry changed.
stupid historical TITS! ON TV!! (fsquared) Tue 15 Aug 00 18:26
The air conditioner routine is not only brilliant, it is: educational!
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Tue 15 Aug 00 18:49
Only some software developers are geeks.
blather storm (lolly) Tue 15 Aug 00 19:31
Chiming in with admiration for the air conditioner gambit.
(the-voidmstr) Wed 16 Aug 00 03:01
what the heck kinda name is that "mikki"?
gone (scraps) Wed 16 Aug 00 06:39
Is there a fundamental difference between the self-aware geek and the oblivious geek in terms of interpersonal functionality? Is the former easier to deal with because they are aware of the geekdom, or is the latter easier because they don't even recognize that you're "dealing with them"? As "geek" increasingly becomes a badge of pride, how do we tell true geeks from wannabes? Does "geek" only mean techies and math nerds, or does it include anyone who was unsocialised and ostracised in school? For example, Anthony Michael Hall's two friends in school were doubtless classic geeks, but was Anthony Michael Hall's character a geek? Does a geek remain a geek forever? If a geek grows up to find a supportive community, achieves happiness and confidence and possibly some variety of alternative sexuality, does residual geekiness remain?
Ron Hogan (grifter) Wed 16 Aug 00 08:14
Mary Ezzell writes in: I've been looking for a good term to describe a personality type which shows up in geeks, engineers, etc -- and also in farmers, adventurers, homesteaders.... Common factors: Mr. Spock, Indiana Jones.... The key is, relying on facts and/or physical reality, instead of on others' opinions or perceptions. Techie -- even if it means low-tech. Into problem- solving, not charm.... Feel like I'm probably missing something obvious. Any suggestions? More musing at http://www.gore-in-context.com/geek.html
stupid historical TITS! ON TV!! (fsquared) Wed 16 Aug 00 14:47
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 16 Aug 00 16:59
Undo Influence (mnemonic) Thu 17 Aug 00 09:01
One thing I wished for in this otherwise amusing book was a discussion of the geek tendency to take things apart and to tinker with stuff. While geeks are often handy when it comes to repairing equipment, there's a counterbalancing impulse that often makes things worse, at least for a while. As when geek disassembles new laptop to get a look at the daughterboard slots, is called away by a beeper, and geek's SO comes home to find laptop disassembled on dining-room table. Also, isn't there a generic geek mentality that applies outside of the tech world? Seems to me that there are opera geeks, theater geeks, pop-music geeks (e.g., John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity") and (of course) law geeks. How connected is the Geek Way of Being to technology, on other words?
that is the kind of thing i learn and forget! (sd) Thu 17 Aug 00 13:15
I enjoyed the book very fast but was still left with the only way I can tell of my girlfriend being a greek was her lovely complection and penchant for feta cheese.
Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Fri 18 Aug 00 09:44
Good question, menmonic. I once knew a guy who was a "rail fan," one of those obsessive types who lives for railroad history, watching trains, taking train trips, etc. Clearly a geekish tendency.
Angus MacDonald (angus) Fri 18 Aug 00 16:03
Is that the same as a trainspotter?
blather storm (lolly) Fri 18 Aug 00 16:09
Dumb question department, part 2: What is the difference between a geek and a nerd?
David Gans (tnf) Fri 18 Aug 00 20:26
From: "Sam Patton" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> Subject: Mikki Halpin - The Geek Handbook Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 21:35:07 -0500 Mikki, in your research did you run across the term Aspergers Sydrome? It is autistic specturm disorder and about 33%(estimated) of all programmers and engineers have it to some degree. I could go into details but it would take some time and I am not a psychologist. My son has a mild from of the disorder. If you go to the web and find out some of the traits of Aspergers Sydrome, I would be interested in what you think the precentage of the geek you encountered.
Mim (mim) Fri 18 Aug 00 21:07
I think it was the NYT Magazine (although I can never remember where I read what) that had a fascinating article about this sometime in the last few months. I had never heard of it before that, but I agree, it does seem to be a "geek" disease of sorts. I'll be interested to hear what Mikki thinks.
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