Right, so for those of you who missed my announcement a couple of weeks ago, I’m taking part in the 30 Days of Geek blogging challenge throughout November. This is the first of those posts.

So this first of those posts. So, why do I consider myself a geek? I could list any number of stereotypical character traits, which I do see quite obviously in myself, but instead I’m going to go with just the one which sums up the most important issues nicely: Unhealthy obsession.

Let me explain. As I see it, the most important path to geekery is having a knowledge and understanding of a topic that exceeds that of other people you know. It tends to help if there is more than one such topic of which one has such a mastery.

I’ll start with the obvious first topic: I have an unhealthy obsession with computers. I learnt to program for the first time when I was 11 (MS QuickBasic 4.5 if I recall correctly) and I had a fascination for playing with settings on my family’s first Win98 machine (which resulted in doing a format/restore three times in the first six months of its ownership). Such tinkering left me in good stead for learning Linux a few years later: on the machine I had at the time, getting anything to work at all required hours browsing forums to find people with similar problems. Further to that, I could take the knowledge of how to solve these sorts of problems in Linux and apply them to new situations, frequently in an unrelated area of my system. I don’t think I’d have got anywhere near as far as I did without the unhealthy obsession with Linux I had at the time — this enabled me to spend weeks (when I had schoolwork to go on with) with a not-entirely-working computer, but fixing its problems.

So that’s probably the answer you expected to see. But it’s not just being good with computers that makes me a geek. This unhealthy obsession applies in other areas of interest. For example, I’m a keen follower of the Formula 1 motor racing series [1]. Whilst other people are content with just watching the races as they pop around, I spend ages learning the details which apply to each race — if I’ve a game where I can drive around a circuit to learn its layout I’ll do so. I’ll read Wikipedia so I can find out why people frequently crash at a given point on a track; and then I can relate the knowledge I’ve learnt from reading and gaming to the commentary of the race — which in turn feeds into a greater understanding of the race, which feeds into further learning about the event. Without the unhealthy obsession which comes with being a geek, I doubt I’d have the same level of interest (nor enjoyment) that I have.

So there, two examples of applied geekery, and how they relate to the my preferred reason for being a geek.

Up next, more in-depth questions. If I remember.

[1] Shock horror! I follow sports! Sorry if you think this disqualifies me.