Thursday, 23 September 2010

Geek <=> cool?

Somewhere along the line, something has gone wrong. Or, rather, I'm not sure something actually has gone wrong but I am not entirely sure I am comfortable with it. Or, perhaps it is that it is what it is and I am reluctant to step up to the plate but I know that I must, in the same way that we all must if the big society is to work, and those of us who are dreamers, idealists and wishers, we all want the big society to work.

I know some things. I know these things through being inside something. It's as natural to me as breathing, a framework where I instinctively operate. It's not got a name and it doesn't need a special name. It's not cute and fluffy and it's not going to change the world. Except, that was 3 years ago. Now I know some things for the same reasons but I feel somehow responsible for making those things cute and fluffy and accessible. I feel responsible for passing it in, for teaching people, for explaining in plain English to those far smarter than me. Sometimes I find myself in such ridiculous situations, explaining something which to me seems so damn simple, to someone who could intellectually eat me for breakfast.

I am confused. Bewildered. There is a new world order, why yes there is, but instead of being at the bottom of the pile, suddenly I seem to be in the middle somewhere. Have the geeks inherited the earth?

Well yes. Yes they have. But with inheriting something, as in reality with heirlooms, there comes a certain responsibility if you are a certain kind of a person. I suppose I am a certain kind of a person. I don't believe it's someone elses job. I don't believe someone else should pick up the baton. I wont leave well alone. Some of my friends, who are geeks, think I am ridiculous for getting involved. They think I am talking pipedreams. Others don't understand the need for translation, others sneer at those who need translation, instead wanting to keep the knowledge and thus the power to themselves.

Lets get this straight, right now. I am not cool. I am a geek. Being a geek is not cool. If it is going to become cool to be a geek, and increasingly it seems that this might be the case, then I am not entirely sure I am comfortable with that. I love digital. I love technology. I love burying my head in a book. I want to know everything, all of it, all of the time and right now. I do not want to be cool. Cool is frivolous, cool is unquantifiable, cool does not come in black and white and cool is out of my control. Someone else decides whether I am cool or not and I am simply not interested in that. I'm too old, too grumpy, dress too differently, and frankly, am just too uncool.

But I am a geek. A big geek with a big heart. It used to be that that bemused people. Confused them. I would speak, the words would come out of my mouth, and there would be confusion in the listeners eyes. What is this you speak of? Why are you telling me these things? Why are you so enthusiastic about something as stupid as talking  in text? We talk to each other, there is no space or time for your weird ideas here.

Now the world has flipped and I am catching up. And I am the one who is confused and bewildered. I perpetually feel like I am supposed to be doing something where I am not entirely sure what something is. I have ideas, hundreds of them. I sit and listen to other people talking and 90% of the time ideas spark and pinwheel off in my brain and I reach for a pad and I scribble and scribble and scribble some more. Ideas, imaginings, what if's, why can't we's, how about we do it that way, or try it that way.....a constant processing of input and generation of output. That's not cool. That's being a geek. An acknowledgement of a brain which works like a computer, which needs rebooting each night, defragging occasionally, but when running at optimum can crunch masses of data and come to conclusions easily and smoothly at the end of the crunching.

I have spent a long time hiding this. I have spent a long time only letting similar people see.

Slowly but surely, the decision to just see what happens is creeping up on me. To jump, take a risk, do something, do something. But that's not cool and the last thing on earth I want to be is cool. The technology is cool. The digital capability is cool. Faster broadband, smaller chips, more efficient processing, crowdsourcing, village pumps , virtual noticeboards, unconferences and bar camps - they are all cool.

I am not.

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