My Brand of Geekery

Melody Watson trying unsuccessfully to live-blog music event with wonky internet connectivity. Karine Thoresen Photo.

Melody Watson trying unsuccessfully to live-blog music event with wonky internet connectivity. Karine Thoresen Photo.

In The Land Of Melody, I am half a geek. Onlookers will often mistake me for a "real" geek but if you stick around long enough, I'll ensure you get it. And why not only is this a pretty cool thing, but also why it's important to my daily rhythms.

What does this even mean?

It means that even while making my living in an industry that didn't exist when I started college, I try to keep one foot grounded in the recollection that we weren't all born knowing this stuff and not everyone defaults to a techie solution for their day-to-day problems. It means that I will geek out with you in the art supply store then enthusiastically rip and scratch and otherwise embellish paper surfaces with you (or shoot photos while you do all the tearing,) in pursuit of your artistic vision. Then I will turn around and encourage you to "blog your process" as a way to help promote your very tangible artwork in this intangible cyberspace arena.

I have recommitted to remembering how it felt when computers intimidated me.

Not having grown up around much technology, and possessing a particular kind of attention span, it took me an extra-long time to wrap my brain around computers and all that would one day become so intertwined with my current, tech-filled life. This is beneficial to my work.

  • Memory 1: During my short-lived stint as a supervisor in a phone company call center, 20 years ago, I routinely coached several members on my team who were older than my parents, to navigate a terrain that frightened them, and I'd barely wrapped my brain around. Patience and generosity of spirit were integral to these sessions. That job gave me my first exposure to email and I believe we were still using an intranet.
  • Memory 2: A trainer friend had likewise intimidated me when, while helping revise the resume I would submit with the application for this promotion I'd eventually land, his fingers flew through keyboard shortcuts that made his cursor jump from one side of the screen to the other. I was in awe and longed to make those perplexing skills my own.
  • Memory 3: Four years later, give-or-take, while in my final undergrad semester at Guilford College, I stood nervously at the front of a classroom filled with truly bright minds. Aside from the two co-teachers, I was the oldest person in the room. In spite of still being in my twenties, I acutely recognized just how much I didn't know as I attempted to navigate a file structure that continued to baffle me, and which was just coming into focus in front of all those eyes. As I attempted to give a presentation for which I'd only thought I'd efficiently prepared. I will be forever grateful to Michael Strickland for the unparallelled kindness he employed while subtly helping me to pull my files up on the projected screen at the front of that quiet room so I could begin my presentation.

And then a whole lot of other things happened:

They call it life and in my version that included untold hours of study and trial-and-error exploration and falling on my face in a squillion little ways. Only one day to discover that I was leaving my webmaster position at a community college (whaaa?) to begin work as a freelancer, helping other people to create websites that fulfill their visions and tell the stories of their passions.

Why I remember:

Stories like this abound in my history, and I am fiercely committed to keeping them fresh. Because it's memories like this that enable me to coach my often-tech-averse clients to not only learn to maintain their own websites, but to also enjoy the process and work to increase their skills.

Of course there's more; let's just wrap up with a mini pep talk:

When I overhauled my website more than a year ago, I added this page. It's not new anymore, but this section remains valuable. There's more to say on the subject but I have yet to make the time. I enjoy thinking that one day I will write some blog posts to further illustrate my particular take on the importance of using the tools of technology to enhance our non-tech lives. For now, we'll stop with this much, and a reminder to those who still find technology daunting: None of us got to where we were in a few easy steps. When it comes to geeky things, be very gentle with yourself. Figure out which tools make sense for your life, understand why you'd like to master them, then take it one baby step at a time. Next week you can try another step. But today, just do one little thing to learn something new.