Why are you such a geek?

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Professionals whose workspace is packed with highly adjustable and usually non-fatal equipment – optometrists, for example – attempt to limit the damage by both grabby three-year-olds and this variety of geek by trying to keep machinery out of reach. Normal adult height in a compulsive hacker spells additional misery for those relying on that particular tactic.

In that same situation, more heavily compulsive varieties of this species – especially those who are particularly iconoclastic, anarchistic or anti-social – tend to disassemble the available machines into component parts and leave the room, readjust each of hundreds of tiny configuration options by just a small amount without warning anyone they did so, or try to modify the laser optical-cancer-detecting Machine That Goes Beep into a signaling laser that will bypass Pentagon firewalls and give them access to stores of data placed there for safekeeping by Chinese Army hackers who are the only people with access to the most secret U.S. military data archives, including members of the U.S. military.

Multidisciplinary geekery and the art of distraction

By far the most common species of geek – which comes in an unending variety of highly individualized and localized forms – is the multidisciplinary geek (MDG).

MDGs often work in IT because it pays better and has more job security than their dozen other technical obsessions and changes so much more quickly that it keeps MDGs interested far longer than they would be otherwise, simply by forcing them to continue learning all the time or find themselves unaccountably ignorant of their own specialties.

Intellectually itinerant –even dilletantish – by nature, MDGs will often display full geekish interest and commitment in three to five major areas and partial geek commitment to a range of other, almost part-time interests.

A plurality of these major interests typically focus outside traditional IT arenas – Civil War history, or stone masonry or flint-knapping and ultra-primitive survival skills and technology, for example.

At least one hive of both major and minor interests invariably remain within traditional information technology and electronics, however, not straying even as far as electronics used for other things – race-car telemetry, or ham radio operations, for example.

MDGs, whose interpersonal skills are typically better developed than more specialized varieties of geek simply through exposure to non-geeks in non-IT topical interest areas. Their focus remains technical and often introverted or introspective, however.

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