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The 'Geeks' Are Coming

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It seems like my speech at the Campaign's War of the Words Open Mic section last Thursday generated more discussion than I have expected.

If you missed the event, you can read my speech below:

I believe that 'geek' will become the norm, not the exception. So we have to skill up accordingly.

But why? We have jobs, and are living our lives just fine without knowing a single line of code. The thing is...computers, smartphones and various other 'geeky' devices are becoming indispensible. We use them to shop, communicate, bank and work.

Who here (raise hand for audience to follow) will hire a junior who doesn't know how to use a computer? But who here will hire a junior who doesn't know how to code?

People with 'geek' skills make our digital world go round. Look at Google, Facebook, Apple! We revel at their leaders, but didn't Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page start out as a 'geek'? You may still think the term 'geek' is derogatory. But, if the leaders we admire are traditionally 'geeky', then why don't we publicly admire the common 'geek'?

Ladies and Gentlemen, The revolution has started...look at the fashion. Geeky is COOL. Geeky is now sexy.

But you're not a geek just because you wear these kinds of glasses. (take off glasses) Geek glasses without geek skills equals hipster...Right, David? (David Hackworthy is one of the judges and wore geek glasses to the event. Don't worry, we've peaced it out by now.)

You actually have to learn how to code to be the real thing.

The developer and coding community is growing. The presence of Barcamps where people talk about early-stage web applications and open source technologies definitely help grow this 'geek' community. But what about the non-geeks? Well, following the release of the Next Gen report, the UK government has already launched a program supported by Google and Microsoft to teach coding in schools. And for unemployed youth, there's even the Apps for Good programming course provided by Center for Digital Inclusion Europe.

So, the developer community is growing and kids are being taught how to code. What does this imply? Well, these young people will grow up and enter the workforce with a very powerful skill that only a few of us have right now. They might even automate a lot of work done manually today by writing macros and scripts. The scary thing is, they will probably also come with higher expectations that none of us are prepared to handle right now.

How would YOU deal with a little Mark Zuckerberg giving you attitude in the hallway? Would YOU be able to manage these people? Would YOU be able to understand their line of thinking?

My answer: you prepare for these guys. You know they're coming, so you adapt and you learn how they think. You must become a geek as well. Because if you don't, they'll just quit and make money for your competitors instead.

Geek is the norm, not the exception.

Thank you.