Monday, January 7, 2008

Social geeks

I love ethnographers. I appreciate their fervent desire to bucket people in an attempt to figure out the human race, though I must admit I have never been one to enjoy being in a box. My boss recently passed me the book, Microtrends by Mark Penn, an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

When I tell people I work in the field of trend and innovation they assume that I must be checking out the latest “fads” and “fashions”. And I do check those things out, only to the extent that they reveal some underlying and unifying trends that may be emerging. Trends take the long-view, have a psycho-social implication, and signal major shifts in how a large group of people see themselves and their place in the world. This long-view is what holds my interest.

As I read through Microtrends, I discovered a few new interesting groups that I actually belong to, on my own terms. I’m a joiner (there in lying the paradox that while I love groups I hate formal classifications), and so this news of “my people” coming together has got me jazzed. First up, those of us who believe in being DIY doctors. I’ve previously blogged on my neurotic addiction to WebMD, mostly stemming from my preoccupation with health and wellness and the sense of worry etched in my DNA. Turns out that my years-long tracking of WebMD just meant that I was ahead of the trend curve. The tipping point for DIY medicine is approaching, thanks in part to our horrid health insurance system.

Another group I love and seek acceptance to: the Tech Fatales – women and girls who are not only interested in technology but seek to be the people who change and improve the systems and their applications. Finally, those of us who have long been hanging out on the edge contemplating how in the heck all of these technological advancements actually apply to us are not only figuring out that conundrum – we’re also finding new uses for the technologies to make them more applicable to us.

And the last group of note for me – the social geeks. How I love this! Finally a description in two words that does justice to my weirdo nature. I’m so nerdy that at times in my life it has been a source of embarrassment. I was one of those kids who embraced the word “why” with every fiber of my being. My library is my most precious material possession. I have a hard time parting with any of my books, even if I never intend to read them again. And the subject matters are so varied that I have a hard time placing any two books into a single category.

The flipside to my nerd nature is that I have often been correctly accused of being a social butterfly. I love making the rounds, meeting new people, and bringing people together. So imagine my delight when social networking came on the scene in a big way – it would be possible for me to connect with tons of people with all kinds of interests, spread across the globe, all from my cute and comfy apartment. Are you kidding me? Count me in!

Mark Penn points out that Myers-Briggs recently needed to alter their classifications. Previously people interested in technology had been placed in the “introvert” bucket. That’s changed – now people most interested and active in technology are also the most extroverted. Sorry Myers and Briggs: the social geeks will define their own characteristics in their own words.

The above photo can be found at


Jamie said...

Mirco Trends sounds like an interesting book. I too would fit into the joiner group. Also, for some reason I find a great deal of interest in trends and how people migrate from trend to trend and why they do. Being a Designer I guess I just look at things different.

Anyway, I enjoy your blog. I need to start back blogging myself.

be well, Jamie

Christa said...

Hi Jamie! Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment. I really appreciate it and am glad to virtually meet another social geek. What's your blog address; I'd love to take a look at it.