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Why fi? March 9, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Ramblings.
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I hate the term ‘eyeball’.

That’s what most of the guys call it when their user group meets up, when they get together to shoot the breeze and brag about their gear.

I think it’s an ugly term, very purple and a tad gross, if literal. But literal-ness and graphic excess seem to go hand-in-hand with being geeks. I prefer the simpler ‘meeting’ myself. Or as the Eeephers like to call it, a ‘Meet & Greet‘.

I’ve been to a lot of tech user group eyeballs (see how gross it sounds?). A lot. Mac users, iPod users, Palm users, EEEPC users…

Every single one of them, when planning a meeting, has three non-negotiables: it has to be a venue with lots of eletrical outlets, lots of coffee – and a wireless internet connection. Coffee is a must, of course, but personally, I’d be happy to just run off batteries for the few hours we’re there. More than that, I’d be ok without the wifi.

In fact, I prefer it without wifi.

Heresy, you say? I’ve always found it odd. There are long stretches when everyone just sits together and quietly surf by themselves, glassy-eyed and in a semi-trance, when there are many perfectly wonderful like-minded people around to talk to. I can’t think of anything more anti-social. They could just as well be alone at home.

Can’t we do without being connected to our precious net for the few hours we’re together and just connect to each other instead? We’re wired nearly all the time when we’re apart, I think we can live without the net for a bit for the sake of the group. We’re a virtual community most of the time anyway, why not be a real, physical one for the few hours during a Meet & Greet? What’s so important being online together when we already physically are? And what’s so important that whatever it is can’t wait until we get home?

Looking at the gang sitting together surfing, I commented to fellow EeePH member awidyaputranto at our first Meet & Greet some weeks ago this very thing: that it was strange that even when we’re together, we’re apart, doing the solitary, private thing we do anyway elsewhere – being lost in the net. He just chuckled and said that’s how geeks are.

I’ve seen this phenomenon in my other user groups who sit together completely missing the point of a face-to-face. What’s really so important on the net that we give up actual personal interaction to surf? Is it just force of habit? It’s a bit like a high school reunion where all the alumni sit around listening to a calculus lesson rather than catching up with each other. (Ok, not the greatest analogy, but you get what I’m saying.)

Sure, without wifi we can’t stream a live video feed of the event, can’t get that little app that someone recommended, nor post updates about the ongoing meeting to those unable to make it, but surely those aren’t the most important things during a flesh-and-blood meeting?

EeePH.com is organizing our second M&G for the Saturday after Easter, but we’re stumped as to where because of the wifi requirement. There are dozens of nice, comfortable, convenient places with ample coffee and outlets – but few with wifi as well. I’m hoping most of them realize we’d be better off without wifi at a meeting. It would open up our choices of venue for one, and for another it would do the community good to deal with human faces rather than small LCD screens for a few hours.

Then again, maybe it’s just me.

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Comments»

1. Cloudwalker - March 9, 2008

ouch! guilty as charged. so, does this make me a geek? or maybe, geekette? but I digress 🙂

I suppose being online is a form of addiction for some, in the same way that some people can’t seem to keep their paws away from their cellphones and flood the airwaves with inane text messages. However, you’re right, it wouldn’t hurt if we put away our respective toys for a few moments and interact with each other, face to face.

so, the next time we meet, I promise to put Blackeee to sleep for some time so we can REALLY talk with each other. Deal? 🙂

2. reverseengineer - March 9, 2008

Deal!

3. Ade - March 10, 2008

Good point! With or without wifi, I promise to not stare at my EeePC for the whole duration of the next M&G.

4. dix-neuf - March 10, 2008

I wasn’t at the 1st MnG (or any other MnG/eyeball) but I promise to fight off any tendencies to near autism with my Eeep, sans ou avec wifi 😉 c’est promis et juré.


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