A guy I know from “back in the day” pretty much exemplifies every attribute which gives rise to anti-“geek” stereotypes:
First, the guy is relatively competent with regard to electronics/computers.
Note: I do not believe in “expertise”, for the simple reason that individuals are neither omniscient, nor infallible. I do acknowledge the existence of relative competence within a particular context of knowledge, at a particular point in time.
For example: someone who presumes to be an “expert” in 8-bit personal computer technology may be somewhat less knowledgeable with regard to (say) vacuum-tube audio amplifiers. Further, it is entirely possible for two so-called “experts” (although they both specialize in the the minutiae of the same sub-field), to know different “details”.
A friend of mine (20+ year Marine corps veteran with several computer-related college degrees) nevertheless periodically needed to acquire more training, lest his “A+ certification” expire. The mere fact that the field itself was not “static” (IE: new designs/products/applications etc. were continually being devised) necessarily makes “expertise” impossible. Absent omniscience, one can “only” realistically aspire to an ever-expanding corpus of knowledge, while at the same time acknowledging — both to others AND to oneself — the possibilty (likelihood?) that someone, somewhere knows “more” — or at least “other” things).
Pardon the digression. 🙂
My point is: anyone who considers him/herself to be an “expert” — by that single lapse of hubris — is disqualified from the category.
The most fundamental fact is: there will always be “more to learn”.
In some way, that’s the point. 🙂
Anyway: the individual in question presumes to be an ‘expert” in various topics. This leads to arrogance, condescension, and — worst of all — an unwillingness to continue learning.
(A great example of this happened when the guy was prattling on about some obscure Linux-related topic or other, and my wife made the mistake of asking for clarification. The guy proceeded to make a disgusted little huffing sound, and point-blank ask her “where have you been? How can you not know this, already?”
The presumption, of course, is that my wife is stupid merely because she happened to be unable to reflexively parrot a specific bit of trivia or jargon.
As it turned out, my wife *had* already learned the specific bit of trivia, and was merely asking for clarification because — having not invoked that particular tidbit in some while — she was unsure if she was remembering it correctly.
So yeah: the two attributes which give “geeks” a bad name among everyone else are: arrogance, and condescension — an unwarranted sense of their own superiority coupled with a tendency to “read” even innocuous questions as indicative of ignorance or stupidity.
I am (relatively) competent with regard to several musical instruments. Most of my (current) knowledge/skill is concentrated along a relatively-narrow segment of the “Chordophones” — guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, and/or similar instruments. (I’ve had the opportunity to fumble around with bouzoukis and balalaikas and such at various points, with varying levels of success).
Some years back I had the good fortune to attend the Berlin Maryland “pickers’ convention” — an event featuring contesting. The first time I attended, I happened to take 3rd in the guitar-picking contest. The second time I attended, I happened to take 2nd. Others tend to “brag on me” for the above facts, although I honestly have no idea why.
- The judging was (somewhat) subjective (favoritism toward certain ‘brands” of instruments — Martin d-28s, for instance).
- I actually learned a significant amount simply by observing the other contestants — including “licks” which I later “reverse-engineered” from memory, and used at gigs. 🙂
Oddly enough: one of the contestants from whom I learned the most was a ten year old boy, who had only gotten “into” music some months prior, and was *already* decades ahead of most of the other contestants. To be honest, he was actually rather disturbing — the (seeming) lack of any sort of “learning-curve” was particularly perplexing. I asked him afterward, and he assured me that there *was* indeed a learning-curve (mostly involving how to “translate” the intervals/note-lines he heard “in his head” usably on a given instrument).
Oddly enough, the guy was also genuinely impressed by what I was doing.
(If I think back honestly, my own experience was broadly similar “back in the day”).
Anyway — sorry about another digression. 🙂
One of the particularly sniffy and condescending things my “friend” has been known to say is: “why should I help anyone learn? The information is already ‘out there’ if you know where to look!'”.
The above-quoted sentiment sucks, quite frankly.
I have an intense dislike for “rummaging”. Organization is a good thing. This is why I admire systems of classification, such as the Dewey decimal system.
Here’s a thought-experiment:
Contrast the following: two buildings, each containing identical copies of the same 5000 books.
The only difference is: in building 1, the books are haphazardly gathered into piles, crammed into cardboard boxes, burlap feed-sacks, etc. – with no regard to organization as to subject-matter, whatsoever.
In building 2, the books are arranged neatly onto shelves, and cataloged according to the Dewey Decimal system.
Which of the two is more useful?
Most people (including most self-proclaimed “Experts”) would recognize that rummaging through the contents of building #1 is both wasteful and — most likely — futile.
It is wasteful in relation to the amount of time invested in the act of rummaging, itself.
It is most likely futile because you are exceedingly unlikely to be able to find what you’re seeking, in any case.
So that’s why I’ve added a new category for off-site resources.
If I find something of value, it not only makes sense for me to keep track of it, so as to (hopefully) be able to find it again, if needed. It also makes sense for me to save others the effort of stumbling across it, themselves.
After all: if someone learns something from an off-site resource they might otherwise not have found, that individual might use the knowledge to create something good. I will have participated (in a small — but important — way), in that.
To paraphrase Martha Stewart: “That’s a good thing!” 🙂