Being Geek: you've seen the movie, now read the book

Twenty years ago if you were labeled a geek it was somewhat, well – geeky. Thus the term was coined in its initially negative context. Subsequently it became “chic to be geek” and the American electronics store Best Buy now uses its Geek Squad brand to sell customer support in a warm and fuzzy context.

The 1976 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary is said to have included the following definition of the word geek:

This word comes from English dialect geek, geck: fool, freak; from Low German geck, from Middle Low German. The root geck still survives in Dutch and Afrikaans gek: crazy, as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut: geek’s hat, used in carnivals.


So now that the term is firmly embedded into our consciousness, it is perhaps only fitting that a software engineer has written a book to detail the highs and lows of a life in Silicon Valley working for some of the industry’s biggest players including Apple, Netscape and Symantec.

“As a software engineer, you recognise at some point that there’s much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk or join that startup?” asks author Michael Lopp in Being Geek by O’Reilly Media.

“I wrote this book using more than 40 standalone stories because I want geeks and nerds alike to own their careers. It’s too easy in an industry full of urgent things to do to forget that you’re going to have many jobs and you get to choose where those jobs will take you,” explains Lopp.

This book has some compelling-sounding chapters including: “The Business” (to help decide what you’re worth), “How Not to Throw Up” (advice on giving presentations, “Managing Werewolves” (how to handle liars and people with devious agendas) and “The Itch” (how to realise when you should be looking for a new gig).