Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"They are geeky and they are nerdy. . ."

With some apologies to fans of the Addams Family (so I guess I am apologizing to myself since I like the Addams Family too?). I was tempted to write a riff on the song, but I think I will refrain.

Mr. Rory Litwin's recent post on "Geeks and Nerds" made me wonder a bit. I am not quite sure where I am headed with this, other than to maybe wonder about a thing or two. I wondered why he decided to set up the dichotomy in the first place. I do agree that there is a strong sense of confrontation in our profession when it comes to the whole L2 and technology issue. Some of it may be generational, and some of it may be geeks versus non-geeks. But geeks and nerds seems a bit like nitpicking. I think it is nitpicky because these two groups would seem to overlap quite a bit. I would suggest they would overlap enough as to make the distinction somewhat unnecessary. This does not mean that the element of confrontation that Mr. Litwin describes does not exist. It is there, and it often does get ugly unfortunately.

I will briefly use myself as an illustration, not because I think I make some profound example. On the "typical traits of a nerd," I do read a lot, and I can be passionate about some intellectual matters. I did get straight A's in school (I was second in my high school class, back when you only had only one Valedictorian and one Salutatorian, not like the inflation today). However, that is about it for that side of the fence. On the "typical traits of a geek," I share a few more things. I am into science fiction and some fantasy, and I do like cyberpunk. I used to play D&D, but I don't know in part due to lack of time. I will let my readers wonder if I am into BDSM or not (*grins evilly*). I love graphic novels, and I like some manga. I have two blogs. I am interested in popular culture, but I don't go ga-ga over it, and I am not big on "appointment TV." I am technology savvy, but I don't program computers. I suppose I could learn how to do so, but I am just not interested. There are others who can do that much better than I could. As for the traits shared by both, yes, I am bad at sports. I was the kid who hated PE. However, I am a competent dancer. While I can't tango, I can do Latin music quite well and some ballroom. I even learned square dancing at one point. Overall, my skill won't get me on a primetime reality show, but I can do fine in social functions that require dancing, and it is something I do enjoy on the rare chances I get. As for dating, back in the day, I was not terribly interested, but it was not due to some social awkwardness. I just could care less about girls when I had other interesting things to pursue. I never had the stereotypical trouble dating, and that is what made me wonder about Mr. Litwin's post. It seems to perpetuate a bunch of stereotypes that I, for one, would prefer to have left behind in high school. I think the fact I have a combination of both sides is part of what makes me a well-rounded individual. Plus it helps to know who Inuyasha is when your daughter mentions it and that you can waltz with the better half. I also think such traits make me cooler than the "average" librarian, but hey, that's just me.

Unfortunately, I do have to agree with Mr. Litwin that much of the biblioblogosphere seems to have the aggressive geek gene in full force. Yet I think much of that is just unchecked technolust than geekiness. Now, if I have to play the speculation game of two sides at war, I don't think the geeks will win so easily. So, let's play.

By Mr. Litwin's outline, one would assume that the nerds have read things like Machiavelli (since they read a lot, including philosophy). Let's just say the nerds would know how to run things. Yes, geeks may be practical and make the weapons, but guess who puts the order in for the weapons to be produced. That's right, the nerds. It's not just being well funded. The conflict would also involve politics, and guess who would actually be well read in that area. In fact, there is a line that says, "Finance is a gun. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger." It would be a nerd who would know that; the geek would be too much into his little machines and D&D to think that way. At any rate, just a moment of speculation. In seriousness, do I think there will be more technology down the road, and we will have to learn new things? Sure, and it is part of what makes our profession exciting. Do I think it will simply displace "traditional" librarianship? No, I don't think so. It shows a certain lack of confidence in what librarianship is to think one side will simply suppress the other. I don't see why people have to keep phrasing this as if it was the Battle of the Bulge.

So, where do I stand? It seems I stand where I often do, in the middle. In a way, it is a good thing. On the positive side, it means I can often help mediate, serve as a bridge. On the more cynical side of things, I can just divide and conquer, let both sides bleed each other and deal with whoever is left. The middle does not seem so bad overall. While I would rather things were done in a rational and calm way, I know that more often than not once people pick a side it is hard to get them to see anything else (just look at politics in this country). The important thing to me, at the end of the day, is how will I serve my patrons and continue growing in my professional career. I will let others deal with the squabbles.

For another response, see Ms. Gordon Singer's post here. She provides a response and some other links that may be of interest.

P.S. For fans, here's the actual theme song lyrics:

The Addams Family

They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're all together ooky,
The Addams Family.

Their house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em
They really are a scream
The Addams Family.


So get a witch's shawl on
A broomstick you can crawl on
We're gonna pay a call on
The Addams Family.


Mark said...

Good job Angel, especially the "leave it behind in high school" bit.

I was very disappointed when I saw Rory's post. I think he completely obscured his (claimed) point. Even after reading his avowed point in comments and another post, I fail to see how this dichotomy illustrates it in the slightest. He did get what he asked for a month or so back though--engagement.

I would have taken this on--also as a bridge--but I didn't have the energy or heart a week or so back, and now I don't have the time.

On to the final stretch...or, I must stop avoiding my homework!

Enjoy TLA.

Liz said...

If you were disappointed by the Geeks and Nerds post, perhaps you had overestimated Rory Litwin.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark: Welcome back. Yea, it really did remind me of high school cliques in a way (maybe because my h.s. had a share of those, which I despised). I have been following your blog, seems you are moving along on your assignments. Keep it up. Best, and keep on blogging.

Liz: Thank you for stopping by. I am not sure I was actually disappointed or not. More like, "why is he setting that up?" kind of feeling. I do try not to over (or under)estimate people, at least not much. By the way, enjoying your work. Best, and keep on blogging.

Liz said...

ok, maybe it's me who is disappointed in Rory.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Liz: Welcome back. I am getting the impression a few people may have felt disappointed. At any rate, the post did get a reaction. Best, and keep on blogging.