What is a Tech Geeker?

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What is a Tech Geeker?

Xah Lee, 2008-05-03, 2010-11-06


tech geeker: (noun) A elite programer nerd who severely lacks literacy of social sciences yet persistently loud of his opinions on many social issues related to programing, such as language popularity, pros and cons of GUI, software engineering practices, software license issues, IT industry practices, ethics of corporations.

Are You a Tech Geeker?

  • Are you male?
  • Are you proficient in a computer language or technology? perhaps several?
  • Is computer coding or sys admin your way of getting food?
  • Do you love the term “hacker”? Have you been called a hacker?
  • You do not have a degree in history, arts, philosophy, law, economics, communication, psychology, or any credential from the field of social sciences.
  • You are keen on social issue of software. You read slashdot and groklaw and reddit and hacker news.
  • You have strong opinions on software licensing, the concept of software freedom, user interface design, how social media should or should not be (newsgroups, internet, blog, youtube) and how people should use them. You have strong opinions on software design, computer language design, and opinions on the cause and value of popularity.
  • You are loud about your opinions on social issues of software. You think your opinions are correct in some technical way.
  • You can effortlessly name 20 top computer scientists or celebrity programers of this decade.
  • It'd be hard pressed for you to name 5 historians, philosopher, or social scientists of this century.
  • You are aversive to usages like “u” (you), 4 (for), omg, wtf, lol. You find them annoying and childish.
  • But you use and love argots such as the following: troll, plonk, YMMV, IANAL, RTFM, RMS, *nix (as opposed to “unix”), unixen (instead of unixes or unices), emacsen (as opposed to “emacs user” or (aghast) “emacser”), lisperati (vs just “lisper”).
  • Do you love to debate on grammar sometimes? such as split infinitives, preposition.
  • You never in your life ran a business, operated a store, or started a organization.

A Letter to Tech Geekers

Dear George,

You and Rainer, are the epitomy of what i'd call the tech geeking morons (or just “tech geekers”), in my eyes. That's the type of people in computing industry, who can't see the gist of things, the context of things, the purpose of things, but perpetually bury their heads deep in technical obscurity.

(one quick way to picture this class of folks is to think of linuxers, in the context of software usability (imagine, the worse scenario, if your grandma calls in tech support asking about some problems with the computer, and a tech geeker on the other end is yelling about jumpers and drivers and kernel space, running out of patience, quite frustrated and aghast at the level of ignorance and stupidity of people in the world. Everything about the jumpers, drivers, kernel, and their relations, and relevance to the grandma's problem the tech geeker speaks of, is technically correct, and we marvel at the tech geeker's knowledge at the workings of computing machine. But his inanity and ineffectually, bedazzles us.))

This class of folks, typically are slightly above average programers, and some are academics. Most have been in the industry for a while. Also, a significant percentage of them are a subset of studious college students studying computer science. Put it in another way, these tech geekers are a certain subset of elite programers, who pride in calling themselfs “hackers”.

The tech geekers, their thinking and views are inline with orthodox wisdom. They are also keen with the latest thinkings and trends and thoughts, and pride themselfs in this fact of fashionability (but conspicuously aversive to fads and fashion.). However, they have very little ability in creativity, or perspicacity. Their IQ is often above average, but typically are not outstanding. Also, their ability to analyze mathematically is low, possibly below average among their intellectual peers. They never possess the acumen typical of a mathematician.

However, a notable ability of tech geekers, is their tolerance for dense, incomprehensible, obscure, technicalities. (perhaps that's is also why they are good in their profession: coding) Specifically, the ability to drill down dense technical details, often at the expense of forgetting, discarding, or not understanding the context, whole design, or original purpose. More often than not, a hallmark of their foolhardiness caused by their tech drilling propensity, is that they often create the most unusable software.

I have been in comp.lang.lisp for 9 years. I've been posting very actively in the past few months. You know me, i know you, we know each other to some degree. So, instead of starting another perhaps ultimately tiresome and useless argumentation here about some computer science or programing subject, i thought i'd write something else, just to be fresh, about what i think of your cohorts as a class.

The usenet newsgroup comp.lang.* hierarchy, is in fact a mecca for this tech geeker class i speak of. In contrast, the tech geekers are also almost never mathematicians, inventors, scientists. (For that matter, nor ever sociologists, historian, philosopher, or great writers. O, and never artists of any standing.) I think a good alternative epithet to convey the characteristics of this class of people, is “Engineers”, in particular of the nerdy, uncreative, brute force, subset.

Another tech geeker who was a regular here comes to mind. His name is Christopher. I wrote of him, in 2001, here: Unix And Literary Correlation.