According to the Days of the Year website, July 13 is “Embrace Your Geekness Day.” The point, the site says, is that we have to be a little geeky in today’s world, and on Embrace Your Geekness Day, we are told to go “show the world how intelligent, technically savvy and clever you really are!”
I admit it, I’ve always been a geek. Since about the time the word was invented. (The Online Etymology Dictionary says that “geek,” meaning to people without social graces and who are obsessed with new technology and computers, began to be used in about 1983).
My experience of being “without social graces” dates back longer than 1983, but as a kid I was never obsessed with technology. I didn’t have to have the latest stereo equipment or tape deck. I didn’t have a fancy calculator, because I stopped math after Algebra II. I did learn how to use a slide rule, but I used one of my father’s—I didn’t have a shiny new one.
But once I saw the utility of computers, I was hooked as a geek. I was one of only two attorneys in my legal group to use a word processor. I taught myself how to use it in 1982 or 1983. By 1984, I had moved on to an early PC, and I bought my first PC for home use in 1985.
Back in that era, I knew as much about PCs as the Hallmark “Management Information Systems” group—the predecessor of the IT folks. They had all built their careers on mainframes and were slow to see the utility of these picayune desktop machines. I, however, was all in favor of anything that permitted the cutting and pasting of words, rather than retyping. If learning DOS was a requirement to make the thing work reliably, then I would learn DOS.
WordPerfect 5.1 and Grandview were my favorite programs. With them, I could do anything with words—from outline to finished brief to a macro-generated project list. I still think Grandview is a better outlining program than Scrivener, though Scrivener has other advantages for writers. The worst part of one of my job changes was the overnight transition from WordPerfect to Word. Thank goodness I didn’t have to write as much in the new job.
I was a lousy typist back in the mid-80s. The clerical staff in my group laughed at how I typed all in caps (easier than shifting) and at the frequent errors I made. I relied on them to do my real typing. I only typed documents that would never be made public.
Over time, however, I improved at typing. While I’m still not that accurate, I can draft and edit on a screen better than I ever thought possible thirty years ago.
But I’ve lost my understanding of PCs. Now, I have only a slim notion of what makes my computer work. I can troubleshoot a lot of things, but only by Googling the error message and following instructions.
I’ve made every error possible, lost many documents, crashed a couple of hard drives. But I’m not afraid of computers as so many people are. What’s the worst that can happen? I lose my novel-in-progress? It’s backed up.
How do you display your inner geekness?