I’m not a “tech guy.” At dinner last night I was reminded how annoying this label is. I know the person who said it intended the term as a compliment, but I see it differently. Technology itself is uninteresting to me; what technology allows me to do that I couldn’t do otherwise or that would be significantly more arduous or painful is immensely interesting.
I’m no more a “tech guy” than a journalist is a “word processor” guy (or “typewriter guy”). “Tech Guy” describes me and what I do about as accurately as saying that a baker is an “Oven Guy” or a teacher is a “Chalkboard Gal” unless they happen to be a teacher of technology, and even in that context they shouldn’t be.
My roots in technology started 25 years ago using it to connect, communicate, and collaborate and that’s still what I do. From finding and connecting with other writers using primitive email to current collaborations with peers around the globe and whether using technology to support non-profits or to facilitate a motley reading group–even back when I was using a TI-99/4A or Commodore 64–I was using that technology to create things and as soon as I learned about mailing lists, USENET news, and basic web page creation, I was sharing. I’ve never been much for games (though I have no problem with those who do); I’ve always been interested in making and sharing art of various kinds.
The concept of living both on- and off-line in a kind of symbiotic space comes natural to me. I’ve desired this kind of augmented existence of the public and private since 6th grade (at least).
Say what you will about my accomplishments (or “accomplishments” if that feels more fitting), but labeling me as a “tech guy” diminishes not just those contributions, but me, my very identity. This may not be true of other people–I know and admire people who are deeply into technology itself. They are often the people who build the tools and systems that I use, but that’s not me. It’s not who I am or what I’m about or what I do (I’m unsure how even to distinguish between those three things).
So what am I? I’m a creator and make of things. I’m a jack-of-all trades. I’m a jerk. I’m a teacher, sharer, writer, theorist, and armchair philosopher. Whatever one wants to call me, it should be a reference to what I do, not whatever technology or methods I am using to do it.
In case it helps, here are some other possible labels I don’t object to:
- Supreme Leader
…just don’t call me a tech guy.