The Evolution of Geek

Benjamin Stein made a great post about the evolution of geeks and their choice in technological tools and how they, as early adopters, affect mainstream adoption AND how this evolution has changed somewhat in the past few years.

But then something strange happened. Nerds switched to Apple laptops. Then lots of people switched to Apple laptops. But the nerds didn’t move on. My nerdiest programmer friends use the same MacBook model as my wife.

Marco Arment responded to Benjamin's post, referring to a post he had written several years back:

Part of my own transition was what I called grown-up computing five years ago, after a year of “adult” life:

Grown-up computing is, put simply, the way I use computers and my attitude toward them now that I’m out of college and settling into the 9-to-5 world. It differs greatly from “young computing”.


The last thing I want to do is figure out why some program isn’t working or reinstall my operating system. I see these as zero-gain activities: generally, I learn nothing new, I don’t enjoy myself, I’m not being entertained or enriched, and my effort only results in maintaining the status quo.

I’d rather get a computer that didn’t require any maintenance and simply allowed me to do productive work. I’d like to have something to show for all of my clicking and typing instead of simply making information balloons go away. I’d rather write an article for this site than type my serial number again. I’d rather search the internet for interesting or entertaining information to read instead of looking for the solution to an obscure problem for which I only have a useless generic error message. I just want things to work.

It’s likely that most geeks that Ben and I know are in or near our age group, and are probably “computing adults” in a similar sense: they’d rather use computers and related technology to accomplish a goal greater than just messing around with their computers.

But what if this effect, on a larger and less age-specific scale, is the bigger trend that Ben’s seeing?

What if most geeks today really are just buying Macs instead of building their own overclocked Windows PCs from Newegg parts?

What if PC gaming really is on a decline because only a very small slice of the population is willing to pay $500 for a giant, hot, loud video card and endure the Great PC Gaming Pain-in-the-Ass Trifecta of drivers, patches, and copy protection, leaving almost every gamer to just stick with game consoles for a fraction of the cost and hassle?

And what if a big slice of even the most hardcore geeks have abandoned their netbooks for iPads because they just work so much better most of the time?

Even geeks (like us) have their limits of reasonability. At some point, we often decide that what we’ve been doing or what we think we should enjoy just isn’t worthwhile.

Marco largely put down on pixel what I was thinking in my head.