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I remember a night, back in the early ’80s, when I sat up reading until around 3 or 4 am. I was reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

I finished the book, set it aside, and cried for a while.

After maybe 15 minutes, I opened the book and started over at the beginning.

Rebel With No Appreciable Cause

The greatest tool in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. — Steve Biko

I love that quote. It’s ludicrous of me to use it. Far from being oppressed, I am a white American male programmer born just in time to ride the great digital wave. That’s called “tall cotton” where I come from.

Still, neither nerd, nor geek, nor dork, nor the several others, were originally intended as terms of approval. I don’t like nerd. The k’s in the other two ring the Anglo-Saxon bell, but nerd just has a snot-nosed-ness about it that I don’t find appealing.

I’m actually multidorktual, myself. Computers, history, literature, music. Last year a guy in one of my classes used a particularly lovely phrase: he said I was a renaissance dork.

What Is A Geek, Anyway?

If you surf  around a little, you’ll gather a reasonably accurate tag-cloud for these words. Mostly the focus is on “poor social skills”, or “obsessive behavior around things technical”, and so on. Gross generalizations blah-blah-blah, but yeah, I know what they’re talking about.

Geek originated as a slang word to describe a “wild man” act at a carnival sideshow. The act typically climaxed when the geek tore the head off a live chicken with his teeth. I get it.

Anyway, they miss the point.

They spend a lot of energy noting how different we are from them, but they never mention the thing that stands out most clearly to me.

It’s The Joy, Stupid

It is the joy, you know.

They don’t mention it so much: “Oh, look, it’s those awful joy people again!”

You don’t have to be a geek to see it, you just have to look closely. Go find some dorks hanging out together, working on something, and just watch and listen. They sure do seem to be having a good time.

Geek Joy, Excellence, Business Value

If you want the heart of my coaching philosophy, there it is. I believe that if we can connect business value to geek joy, the result will be excellence.

Whenever I try to help a team, the first two threads I start are:

  • How can we get more geek joy?
  • How can we know what’s valuable to the business?

The rest is just tactics.

Those twin tracks will consistently take you to the heart of the coaching enterprise.

(Did You See That?) 

A Hero Of Mine


Heh.  I totally just did GEB back up there. Heh.

I’m no Hofstadter, though, so that’s prolly the last time you’ll see me do that.

Douglas Hofstadter is the greatest geek of the last fifty years. I couldn’t carry his slide rule.

Oh, the crying?

Up until that time, I thought I might be the only one of us.

Silly Child.

They’re Everywhere.

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