I have come to the realization that there are different kinds of computer geeks. I came to this stunning (to me) realization after a marathon week of computer geekiness and a staff meeting at work.
Last week I found myself sitting in the midst of (count them) 6 desktops and 4 laptops – at home! At work I only have 3 desktops and 1 laptop. I was doing a lot of installation, upgrading and troubleshooting. Now, what is striking about this is that generally I am not considered a “gear-head”. I don’t need lots of the greatest gadgetry. I finally bought myself an MP3 player a few months ago and we still have the same old stereo and VCR I’ve had, um, since forever (well, you know, since the last century)? When it comes to computers I am actually not all that good with hardware and I am the last person you would send on a hardware call at work. What I love about all this machinery is that most of it was free and I have brought dead things back to life. The challenge of learning how to make the most of what I have is a real joy to me. I also love the laptop because I can tinker with things, be it coding, web design or other geeky things or just reading articles I’ve downloaded while on the long suburuban commuter train ride. I have sort of assumed that other people shared my enthusiasm and wonder with these wonderful tools, especially, well, people in IT. Hmmm…
So we had a staff meeting last week where the general strategy of making laptops standard issue was raised. Now, I understand the base question from an IT support point of view. It makes it harder for us to support because a) for the money laptops are not as powerful nor upgradeable as desktops, and so therefore not as long-lived in an IT dept. usefulness sense, and b) there are more “parts” to keep track of and control, especially the mobile connection issue and the users’ various means of connection to our VPN. I think it was a useful question and discussion for our department. BUT, I was surprised to find a divide in our own department with regard to personal feelings on the usefulness of a laptop generally, outside of IT support issues. While I understand the general resistance to taking work home with you or making yourself available for work outside of the office, I still find it weird that half of an IT office would actively reject being issued a laptop on the pretense that they would not use the mobility of the laptop and so there was no reason for them to have it.
Now, the fact that this divide occurred and I found it so utterly bizarre, has led me to believe that I am of a particular class of computer geek. What class it is and how that relates to the rest of the “geek classes”, I’m not sure but coming to the IT world late and in the manner I did, I find I discover new depths and complexities of geekness all the time. It also makes me wonder though, how many people working in IT are actually geeks? I also start to think paranoid thoughts like there may be infiltrators of the “it pays OK and I don’t have to get my hands too dirty” variety amongst us. Oh my!