IDI Issue of the month for October, 2004
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That was then
Six years ago I wrote a note calling attention to the growing practice on the part of trade journals and a few managers of referring to computing professionals by demeaning and insulting terms. Many readers expressed agreement and thanks. No one expressed any desire to be known as a geek, a techie-nerd, or a propeller-head.
Since then I and a few colleagues have written to offenders, reminding them that computing professionals are deeply offended by such slurs. Except for Microsoft, which didn't respond, everyone was cooperative, even apologetic, and until recently we noticed no repeat offenders.
And this is now
Television viewers this week are being jarred by advertising for the services of "geeks". What services? Diagnosing and repairing computer problems for small businesses and home users.
You can find them on the web. One even offers "franchise opportunities" to entrepreneurs who want to get in on the exploding demand for geeks. They also solicit new employees, but how desperate for a job would you have to be to accept that designation in your job title?
Since such companies don't seek to sell their services to knowledgeable organizations or to individual computing professionals, they presumably see little harm in insulting us. But even though I and my colleagues would never use or recommend their services, we're still concerned. With constant repetition in advertising the word "geek" may soon lose its original offensive meaning. The general public may well come to associate that disgusting term with the normal way of describing a computer person, especially at the technician level.
How do you react when someone in your presence uses a demeaning term for women, homosexuals, or ethnic groups? That's exactly how to respond when someone calls computing professionals by a demeaning name. Don't let it pass. You don't have to come to blows; just say in a helpful way: "Excuse me, that term is extremely offensive. Don't you mean computing professional or technician?"
CBS joins the offenders
Marketing Targets "Geeks"The following E-mail was received November 25, 2009
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