Who Needs Geeks?

I recently overheard someone say “just because you are necessary, doesn’t mean you’re important!” I think this applies so well to the field of IT and while it’s funny, it might also make some of us do a harsh reality check.

It’s a bit ironic that only days after hearing that comment, I saw Get Me the Geeks! on 60 Minutes last night. Overall, it’s probably the most interesting 13 minutes of “news” I’ve seen on any of the major, national networks in several years. I found two bits within the story particularly entertaining:

Software companies will try and convince you it’s a hardware problem and hardware companies will do the reverse. According to one survey, 29 percent of all callers swear at their customer service representative, 21 percent just scream. The rest presumably are too exhausted to do either.

I’ve experienced this first hand before (the hardware/software dance) and it’s not particularly fun, especially when a mission-critical system is involved. Luckily, as a geek myself, I know what signs to recognize in the support person’s pre-written scripts and as a result, you can typically socially engineer your way in to getting whatever it is you want from the person on the other end of the line. I’d be interested in seeing the rest of that survey and what the other response choices were, because I seriously have a hard time believing that only half of callers get to this point of anger. I have a feeling another good chunk end up just getting frustrated, hang up without a resolution, and then call their favorite neighborhood geek.

This is the other thing that struck me as just… well, I’m not sure…

Dr. Donald Norman is an uber-geek – a professor at Northwestern University and one of the preeminent engineers in the country. He helped set the technical standards for high definition television in the U.S., but he had to hire a geek to set up his own TV.

I’m sorry, but is it really that complicated or is “PhD” just another way to spell “dumb” maybe? It really is a relatively simple process, especially with the advent of HDMI! Even before HDMI and we were using component video cables, it’s pretty simple: yellow to yellow, red to red, white to white. Done.

Anyhow, if you’ve ever had a funny experience with tech support or are at all a geek, you’ll enjoy the piece I think. Check it out.