Archive for June 2008

What does it mean to be a Web 2.0 geek?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

On the Twitter feed today I noticed a message from one of the people I follow, and that sparked a lively discussion. Said Twitter user kariume:

“I miss the days of Web 1.0, when it was okay for a geek to be an introvert.”

It made me think back to the good ol’ days. Wasn’t it just yesterday (OK, maybe almost two decades ago…has it been really that long?) that calling someone a geek was an insult on the order of calling someone a nerd or a dork? Now we live in an online culture where people willingly take the title geek for themselves and confer it, with the utmost respect, on others.

Even then, geeks labored on their own projects and paid no heed to the popularity contests that the rest of the world sought to win. Being cool wasn’t that important.

Now we find ourselves in Web 2.0, and some aspects of it seem to reflect the popularity contests that the Web 1.0 geek would shun. The well-known centers of the Web 2.0 world, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, all feature profiles with one’s “friend count” prominently displayed. “Invite your friends,” the Web 2.0 site implores the user, as if one’s entire worth on that site revolves around that friend count.

You’ve got only 15 friends on your page? I’ve got 45 on Twitter. Neener-neener-neener. But of course, my count pales against some others who follow, and are followed by, close to 1,000 people.

I can certainly see how this search for the almighty “friend” can make some geeks uncomfortable, especially those who, like myself, are happy with their comfy group of friends.

Of course, geeks come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments; and geekdom encompasses both the extrovert and the introvert. Said Shane Robinson (@shane), “I’m an introverted geek. We’re still here in Web 2.0 land. We’re building all this stuff everyone else is using.” Adds Burt Lum (@Bytemarks), “I think it is still okay to be geeky and behind the scene.”

And speaking personally, with my 45 friends compared against those in the high three figures, it’s safe to say that Web 2.0 itself hasn’t fundamentally changed me. I’m still very much an introvert. I use my Twitter not primarily as a means to meet new people, but rather as a way to extend the face-to-face contacts I’ve made.

And often, that can pave the way for new offline interactions, which, again, makes some geeks uncomfortable. I’ve had the good fortune to have been able to take part in the Hawaii Geek Meet (which I wrote about), monthly Flickr Friday meetups, and Manoa Geeks. To be honest, if it weren’t for having one of Honolulu’s alpha geeks sitting 100 feet from me where I work, I probably would have missed out on these and others.

In the end, there’s no doubt about it that Web 2.0 has made it easy for friendships and relationships to grow and prosper. Making new contacts does have value. I’ve expanded my horizons greatly. But I know that at the end of the day I always come back to the same trusty group of friends who provide me that stable foundation in a time of change. And in a time of rapid change, that’s a great comfort.

Your turn: Does one really need to be an extrovert to survive in the geek world these days? Is the emphasis on the “social web” a good thing or a bad thing?

Friday 5, 6/27/08 – Machinery

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written here. Sometimes I feel I need prompting to get myself to write, such as a meme. One of the memes I found was Wasn’t quite interested in it at first, but after I found out that an online acquaintance of mine runs it, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. This will probably help me keep this blog current. So here goes.

1. What was the last thing you purchased from a vending machine?

A 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi at Kapiolani Community College. I was there for an amateur radio educational workshop on direction finding.

2. What was the last thing you made copies of on a photocopier?

Sheet music for a song. As a church choir leader, I make photocopies of music on a regular basis so that they have something to sing from.

3. When did you last use a pay telephone?

I can’t even remember, now that I have my phone attached to my hip at all times.

4. How often do you visit an automatic teller machine?

On average, once a week. My bank is a small one with not much market share, so they don’t have ATMs at major malls and such; only at their branches. Some people will probably say this is not the best strategy, but if I need cash, I basically suck it up and get my cash from the closest machine to me, damn the fees. I do take out about $100.00 each time and try to make the cash last a week.

5. Which of your daily tasks would you most like to see automated?

One of these days I want to get a good voice recognition program and giving it a try. I’d love to be able to speak to my computer and have it do my bidding.

Read other responses to this week’s questions here.

Will we have our dream ticket?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

What can I say?  It’s been a wild and crazy ride.

Never before in modern history has politics been so…well…interesting. It’s the kind of stuff that cable networks make movies about.  And never before has a presidential primary campaign hit all 50 states in the union and all the outlying territories.  At least on the Democratic side, it has generated record levels of participation.

And when all is said and done, it appears we finally have a Democratic nominee in Barack Obama. 

I’m happy about it, with Obama being a hometown boy and a graduate of the same school as myself. Of course, there’s more to it than that…shared ideas and all that.  But if the situation had been reversed, though, I would still support Hillary in November as well.  I like both candidates; I just liked Obama better.  It’s too bad that one candidate had to lose.

I alluded earlier to the idea of a dream ticket…the two top contenders also being one-two on the ticket. Hillary is saying that she’s open to the #2 spot. Obama may be open to give it to her.

For the party’s sake, I hope he does.

Because what’s really concerning me is the rhetoric I’m seeing on the comment boards on the major news sites, most of which fall in one of these categories:

  • If Obama wins the nomination, I’m voting for McCain.
  • If Obama makes Hillary his running mate, I’m voting for McCain.
  • If Obama doesn’t make Hillary his running mate, I’m voting for McCain.

And when I read those comments and feel the anger behind them, I think to myself: They can’t possibly be serious.  I’d like to believe that it’s just post-primary sour grapes and that come the convention and in November they’ll all do whatever it takes to put a Democrat in the White House.

I have trouble wrapping my mind around the idea that a significant portion of Clinton supporters would rather, in effect, elect George W. Bush to a third term; continue a war that, while improving marginally, still has no end in sight; and continue economic policies that are putting us deeper and deeper in the budgetary hole, than have a Democrat other than Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Especially since, on the issues, they’re pretty much in the same place.

I can probably think of no other person who would be better for the VP job than Hillary Clinton. And had she won, I could probably think of no better person to be her running mate than Obama.

One main thing that a candidate looks for in a running mate is balance; the ability to reach a constituency that he or she would be unable to reach by themselves. Looking at the primary voting pattern, something is clear.  Clinton won the white blue collar vote.  Obama dominated African-Americans and the professionals and intelligentsia. The strength of one illustrates the weakness of the other.

Simply put: They need each other. Like peanut butter and chocolate.

I’m hoping that on the final night of the Democratic Convention, I’ll see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the podium, hands clasped in a victorious stance. If that happens, I think the momentum that the Democrats worked up over the past five months just might carry over into November. At least, I hope so.