As noted last column I think one of the major roles of geeks as citizens is to do something they do anyway – retain and value knowledge and information. Even if something is not seen as relevant, important, or cool, then geeks will retain it – and one day revive it when it is important. Our enthusiasm and love of knowledge allows us to do a great deal of good, even if it’s “eventually.”
However, we geeks are not usually passive acquirers and retainers of information. Part of what makes us who we are is that we put this knowledge we’re passionate about into action. A geek, as I noted early on, gets active in fanfic, games, writing, cosplay, whatever. Frankly you can’t really stop us.
(Ever seen someone experiment with some new piece of technology “because?” or seen someone continue a TV series via fanfic for years? you know what I mean).
That in turn leads to our second role in society – that of applying knowledge actively. OK we’d do it anyway, but seriously, it’s important.
To retain knowledge is important because people need to know and communicate. To actively do things is important to, well, getting things done. But to combine knowledge, deep knowledge, and applying it is vital to any society; knowledge in motion is critical to a civilization.
We geeks are the people who write new programs, experiment with new technologies, and obsess over protein chains until they yield medical marvels. We pair our deep love of our subjects with a deep love of doing something with them, even at times where others don’t care or would get bored. In fact our edge of doing things at a level most people wouldn’t at levels people wouldn’t lets us do things no one else would simply as they’d probably give up.
We are, in the words of MuseHack, Applied Geeks.
Society needs us.
Perhaps we haven’t always been aware of it, but a lot of civilization we know comes from Applied Geeks. It’s someone alone in a cave tasting mushrooms and noting which ones don’t make them see giant rainbow buffalo. It’s a monk translating old documents obsessively. It’s a programmer crafting the next truly great thing.
It’s Confucius putting together the Odes, it’s the Brothers Grimm compiling tales, it’s Charles Momsen risking his life with science, and just about every big name in Computing history. It’s also those legions of people who may not be famous but made your medications, your car, your favorite TV shows, and more.
That’s what we Geeks do, that’s one of our roles as citizens – do do and make things.
In fact, we may just end up creating radical changes to society and technology. We already have, we are, and let’s face it the first person to discover FTL travel will probably have anime posters in her cubicle and a large collection of Pokemon. Probably we need to pair this enthusiastic application and creation with some strong sense of ethnics.
(Which is probably worth entire other columns . . .)
Next time you craft a fanfic or a game level or a costume, remember, that represents one of our roles in civilization – applying our geekery.
Now, let’s get on with that FTL drive, OK?
– Steven “Applying That Geekery” Savage