In my ongoing analysis of the role of a “geek as citizen”, I determined geeks were experts at knowing (indeed it’s instinct), driven to apply their knowledge (which is part of our enthusiasm), and thus good at experimenting (as in inclined). Indeed my term “Applied Geek” is a bit like Sahara Desert as all geeks to some case are about “application.”
We know, we use, and in a few cases we go crazy in a (possibly) productive way.
So really my take is that Geeks are a kind of “middleman/middlewoman” in a culture, mixing both academic and hands-on approaches together to get things done and to innovate. I’m not saying geeks are superior, I’m merely noting where they fit into the great scheme of civilization – and being a geek I’m all too aware of my limitations (like the faffing about, occasional obsessiveness, odd perspectives, etc.)
However, as I noted we are kind of “people in the middle” and that provides some further guidance on the social roles we can and indeed should take as geeks. We’ve got information coming in on all sides, we get our hands dirty, we kind of see and do a lot.
Sure we may not be as “face to face” on some things, or as academic, or our hands may not be as dirty as some (which is a terrible metaphor but you get the idea). We may also be limited by our own obsessions to being “in the middle” of a pretty limited area of expertise. But in the middle we are.
That leads to one of our important roles, as advocates and evangelizers for important causes and information. It may be the value of education, or knowing a given programming language, or climate change, or Applied Geek careers like yours truly. But because we’re in the middle of so much, we can in turn advocate for what is important.