During numerous conversations with colleagues and friends, I have noticed that many of them do not know what a geek is. They ask: ”Is it positive or negative to be a geek?”.
Let me start by jumping straight to the conclusion. In the world of IT, it is an honor to be called a geek. Something to be proud of. An übergeek is an outstanding geek.
Below I have illustrated the steps towards becoming an übergeek.
The beginning of an IT career often starts by being a junior (although the titles never include the word junior – that is what they are). For example junior developer or junior consultant.
A typical activity of a junior on SCN is to read, read, read, and occasionally post some forum questions.
After having worked a number of years you are promoted to senior. It is my experience that this is mainly focused on elapsed time rather than the mastery of knowledge. In other words, most IT workers will sooner or later become senior.
A senior on SCN is more a mixture of reading and posting information. Seniors answer forum posts and might even start writing simpler blogs and wikis.
Unlike the senior step, becoming an expert is not only related to time. It is about knowledge within a specific domain. Not everyone makes it to the expert step.
The expert is active on SCN in forums, writes blogs, and creates wikis.
The difference between geeks and experts is that geeks are both knowledgable and passionate about what they do. Their work is almost an obsession to them.
Being passionate on SCN means that the geek is often a top contributor in a forum, a frequent blogger. creates wikis, articles, comes up with new ideas to idea place, is participating in one or more projects on code exhange, and tweets frequently. The geek does all this because it is a way of living rather than a way of making a living.
The venn diagram below, nicely shows the distinction from being a nerd, dweeb, or dork (which is sometimes mistakenly used as synonyms for geek).
Becoming an übergeek is difficult. You must have talent, work hard, and have some luck. Furthermore you must be recognized as an übergeek by fellow geeks to become one. You can reach geek status on your own if you live the life. But you can only be an übergeek when other geeks call you for help. It is hard to put words to what an übergeek is exactly, but you know one when you see one.