Wednesday 29 September 2010

#geekjoy continued

>Users on iDesk plc's ISP help desk: 30
>What year is this?

Geek boyfriend (what other kind would there ever be?) points me in the direction of his old workplace. I apply for a help desk agent job. I know nothing. I cram. I know something. I get the highest score in the entrance exam after a weeks training. I'm the only girl. By this point, I'm starting to wonder if I will always be the only geek girl. I've met other girls who geek, but to not the point of being completely entrenched in the shiny world, almost every move a digital one.

I help users of various ISP's sort their connection problems. I ask them to hold their telephone receiver next to the speakers of the computer and diagnose problems by the sound of the modem. It's still a sound which wrenches a particular feeling from me, of sounds lost, and times past. Evocative. I get customers who hear the female voice, ask to be passed to a 2nd line tech, who promptly pass them straight back to me, after being told their being put through to the 'expert'. They're not, but I'm as good as all the other 1st line techs.

The company has a games room. Nope, not that kind, thought there is a pool table down the hall, a room full of gaming rigs loaded with Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike. Someone throws down the gauntlet. Girls don't play first person shooters (FPS's). Well this one does and she snipes the boys asses all over the maps. The web has changed, people are using it, people are connecting to it, people are using ICQ to chat across it. Now the noise has started, the sheer mass of pages and people creating a digital cacophony of thoughts, opinions and pages posted and then never touched again, the web littered with the detritus of the geeks short attention span.

>Users on the iDesk plc's help desk: 300 or so
>What year is this?

2001. Team Leader of 15 people at the age of 23. Only in a dot com. So much shine, so much promise, so much enthusiasm and determination. Managing geeks when you are one is so simple, the motivation as simple as ensuring that everyone feels that they contributed to the final decision, that there is a democracy, that you will stand in front of them and take the shit as long as they don't give you any and respect that. Still playing Counter Strike, still kicking ass. Except now voice over IP (VOIP) technology has taken off and everyone has a headset and is talking. Including me. And I'm the only female voice for quite some cable length. And it's an issue. Of course it's an issue. I'm shooting the hell out of 17 year olds and I'm a girl and they.don' Quit the game, wondered off to Everquest for a while. Pretty, shiny, but not shiny enough to make me stick with working out the complicated interfaces and mathematics. crash. Make someone 32 years older than me redundant. Take voluntary redundancy myself. Bubble burst and the bright side of tech turns dark. Heart sore. I loved that job more than was entirely sensible, my social life, my love life, my world. But it was so so good when it was good, empowering and confidence building.

>Users in the generic office: Some
>What year is this?

My friends are geeks. My girlfriends, well some of them are geeks too. So are my boyfriends, no change there then. We still chat on the internet, we still arrange big group holidays on the internet, we still live in the dark ages on the BBS we all use. Internet forums have arrived and gone from badly built difficult to understand mess to intuitive streamlined behemoths. I don't work in tech, but most of my friends do, and all of them are earning at least twice what I am. I can't code, I can't system administrate, I can't do anything quantifiable technical. So time passes and I have ideas and I talk them through with friends when drunk and brave but nothing ever comes from them. I am a girl, I am in admin, I am in my proper place in the world, spending my far better paid boyfriends money and accepting that this is the way the world will be. The fire has gone out because there is nothing there to fan it.

>Users in the admin office: 4 (all women)
>What year is this?

I've been drafted in to fill a tech post. Except it's really not a tech post, it's an admin post with a bit of techy stuff attached to it. But it's not data entry or copy typing which is what has been dominating the previous god knows how many years and so it's grabbed, and gladly. With it my interest in tech and it's ability comes back. Someone takes a chance on me. Someone understands that whatever I don't know I can learn and damn quick. Someone sees past me and past the job history and understands that I love tech.

I play with GIS and Map Info. I help people with their day to day Word and Excel problems. I fix the printer. Then I start to push the edges and make the mapping better, push it harder, ask what it can really do, how can we really represent and visualise our data. I discover I'm a data geek, among many other kinds of geek and disappearing into a spreadsheet makes me happy. I discover Facebook and it's a one night stand, I discover Twitter and it's a long term relationship. I start to wonder what the tech can do for us, whether they're just tools in the dry sense or whether they're tools for change. I talk to people, I write in here. I start to stick my head above the parapet at work.

I regain everything I lost when the dot com crashed. The #geekjoy and the deep seated belief that tech can change the world only this time is the right time, this time the rest of the world is on board, this time the bubble wont burst and it wont all fall down and this time I can switch into top gear, throw everything I have at it and things will change, magic will happen and the fire will continue to burn.

I love technology. I love geeking. I love connecting and linking and introducing and networking. I am the shyest person you will ever meet, but you wont ever see that except in words written down here. Technology enables me, a little geek girl with big big big ideas, to become the spark that lights other flames, the passion and the drive which gets things done and finished and wrapped and completed. Digital allows me to run on 4 streams at once, process all the data, learn as fast as I've always wanted to, to speak and be heard. It enables me to have an opinion, to be gobby, to test my new found confidence and my old love of all things tech and do something with it, make it tangible, stop talking and start doing.

I want to burn the envelope, screw pushing it. I want to turn the sky red, never mind blue. I want to inspire and enthuse and share the possibilities because the possibilities are endless, they really are, the only limitations here are ourselves, our human capacity to comprehend the sheer scale of the world as it opens up and all geographical barriers fall.

I am passionately, resolutely, irrevocably a geek. If I'm talking tech and digital, don't expect me not to be empassioned, fiery, or enthused. This I love and I make no apologies for it.

1 comment:

  1. And it is all gonna get better. As soon as we all get a decent connection. We need the fibre, then our world will really rock.