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The Computer Buzz December 10th, 2009

Nome and Paul Van Middlesworth - owners - The Computer Fact


Who You Calling a Geek?

“Geeks on Call,” “Geek Squad,” “Geeks R Us” “Geeks n Freeks.” Many of the recent entrees into the mobile PC service business identify with the “Geek” sobriquet. Why? Are their employees really “Geeks?” Do they actually believe we want “Geeks” drooling on keyboards in our own homes?

The term “Geek” originated with the traveling circuses or carnivals in 16th century Europe. Troupe members who could no longer perform due to age or injury often became “Circus Geeks.” A “Circus Geek” made his living in the “Geek Pits” AKA sideshows. The “Geek’s” performance required no particular talent. They drew crowds of morbidly curious townsfolk by biting the heads off live chickens, eating live animals or insects, self mutilation or by performing bizarre, disgusting or outrageous acts (like the reality show “Fear Factor.”)

According to “Wickipedia,” today’s “Geek” is “a person who is fascinated, perhaps obsessively, by obscure or very specific areas of knowledge, often electronic in nature. This obsessive preoccupation precludes the development of normal social skills.”

The classic “Geek” resembles the WWII stereotype of the Japanese fighter pilot with protruding, gapped teeth and horn rimmed glasses. Add a white shirt with a pen stuffed pocket protector, wrinkled wash pants, white socks with sandals and you have a “geek.”

We also investigated the difference between a “Geek,” a “Nerd,” and a “Dork.” A “Nerd” is similar to a “Geek” in outward appearance and lack of social skills but has no obvious obsession. The “Dork” is simply a wannabe “Geek” with some social skills but lacking any specific knowledge. Our Internet search kept taking us to Al Gore’s home page.

Computer and Band are the “Geeks” with whom we are most familiar. Certainly there are people who are obsessed with music and fit the “Band Geek” profile, but the overwhelming majority of folks who play music are pretty normal and possessed of excellent social skills.

“Computer Geeks” did create the PC industry. Bill Gates is definitely one. Even with $50 billion in the bank he still went to work every day. Who but a “Geek” would do that?

While “Geeks” can still be found in computer industry R & D organizations, they don’t come to your house to hook up your broadband and they don’t sell PCs in retail stores. Dealing with the public requires social skills and a broad knowledge of user needs that exceed the understanding, interest and attention span of the true “Geek.”

Perhaps in the early days of indoor plumbing there were “Toilet Geeks.” “Horseless Carriage Geeks” may have repaired early automobiles. Today they are simply plumbers and auto mechanics.

PCs have been around for over a quarter century now. Perhaps it’s time to recognize the fact that the technicians who keep our PCs up and running are mainstream men and women that lead perfectly normal lives. If Best Buy really hires “Geeks” for its mobile PC repair “Geek Squad,” they might want to keep some live chickens around in case their “Geeks” need a snack.





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