Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Learning to speak Geek. . .in easy, lonesome lessons

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 22, 2005

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Geek-Mechanic.jpgI speak some Geek because I used to be a software engineer 25 years ago. And I worked on some of my own web site development projects in the mid-to late 1990s.

But working full-time in the Financial Times SF/Silicon Valley bureau my tech skills were rarely needed because we had teams of copy editors, page editors, sub-editors and "dotcom" production staffs, not to mention teams of IT support people for our computers and our custom-made in-house editorial/publishing content management systems.

After leaving the Financial Times in May, 2004, to become what I call a "journalist blogger" and a media entrepeneur I've had to brush up my geek skills -- and I've enjoyed doing so.

I don't have to be a master of the geek technologies, but I should be able to get under the hood occasionally to replace a faulty spark plug. And if the camshaft needs replacing, I can figure it out--it'll take me longer, but I can do it.

Plus, it's fun work and it reminds me of the lonesome pleasures of software coding, losing days enmeshed within a software project, and being completely enveloped in a world apart.

But the most important reason that media entrepreneurs need to speak geek is that an understanding of the software technologies can potentially allow you to figure out innovative media ventures.

Also, you have to communicate with your development teams. And that means specifying what is needed--and more important, knowing what *can* be done.

There are some that will give me 50 reasons why a project is too difficult. Or that they've been doing things for 15 years and "that's not the way things are done."

Well, if you speak a little geek you know that most of the time, that kind of push-back is BS.

Instead, give me 50 different reasons a project *can* be done. Give me innovative ways of using low-cost technologies to support complex media projects.

Oh, and BTW, you had better have a good understanding of business models and business processes (an MBA doesn't hurt...)

Fortunately, Nick Aster and the others working with me on SiliconValleyWatcher and related projects are of the latter kind, the emerging class of media-savvy geeks.

[Nick is also in the middle of his "Green" MBA studies...]

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