Thursday 9 December 2010

My other half and me

A little off message, this. Nothing to do with social media or local government, but it is about geek. Specifically, it's about a pair of geeks, my other half and me.

The house is currently full of a ringing Blackberry. Al, my other half, who is a senior something engineer - network, systems, servers, I lose track - is on call. He works for a national IT company, a company who look after the servers, systems and telecommunications of a large amount of companies you'll have heard of. The first email pinged and he leapt up like all the hounds of hell had landed. Nabbed a piece of paper, muttering to himself, checked IP's, apparently it's not so bad that that one dropped. Remote logged in to servers somewhere else, hundreds of miles away, more than likely, phoned tucked under one ear, co-ordinating a response to a system failure, and a screen scrolling, black background, white terminal font scrolling frantically up the screen. Line breaks appear - 'that's really not good at all'. He was supposed to come off call at 10pm. It's 2 minutes past but he's still there, co-ordinating, talking, frantically tapping. He wont remember to claim the time. He's private sector, but his attitude isn't.

I'm public sector. My evening? I went to the hairdressers, I spent the money I don't spend in pubs drinking (I do drink, just not at the moment) chilling out, chatting to the girls there, explaining grit (I don't quite ever manage to get away from it), explaining BWD Winter, explaining whart social media is and why it's important, but also chatting about films watched, presents bought, plans for next year. I came home, ate, flipped to News 24 and stayed there, serenaded earlier by the sounds of Simons Cat leaking out of the speakers of Al's super shiny laptop.

My laptop is not super shiny but it is tiny and practical. My little 10 inch window on the world. I'm a bit ill, some days a bit more than others. It doesn't get in the way though, because while I'm at work my brain still spins even when other things don't, people are kind and ignore, painkillers fix the worst and I'm practised at this by now. Evenings are not so easy, and so this 10 inch little screen is It's my social life while the other real one is by necessity temporarily on hold, it's my link to intelligent, smart and inspirational people who tolerate my incessant ridiculous questions, my occasionally dummy throwing, but hopefully also, occasionally, just very occasionally something interesting which wings its way from my brain through my fingers and out into the big wide world.

This evening is not normal. Usually, the work life balance in this house is entirely the other way around - I'm the one working.

We are geeks. The lines blur. Often, geeks work doing the things they love very much. So when the things we love roll over into time we weren't supposed to be doing work things in, we either don't notice, or we don't mind. But, because of this, there is also the risk that we don't notice when we've had enough, because we still think of work as fun. And so we carry on, working and working, through hours which should be spent doing something else in order to retain some sanity, because we forget that those lines are there for a reason - so we can rest one bit of our brain and use another bit instead.

If you manage geeks, and you don't already know this, this might be quite an important bit of information. In order for your friendly neighbourhood geek to flourish, don't water them, tell them to stop. Have evenings. Have weekends. A little work in the evening, fine. A lot of work in the evening. Not fine. Reading things which hapen to be work related but out of genuine interest and out of choice? Fine. Discussing things on Twitter in passing which are work related? Okay. Doing nothing but talking about work or doing work all evening, absolutely not fine.

We might not be the best people to limit our own workloads. We need you to keep an eye and occasionally intervene.

Brought to you by some kind conversations with people who noticed and had words. Thank you.You're not geeks and you still noticed.

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