Being "the tech guy"

The other day I saw a great bumpersticker. It said "yes, this is my truck. No, I won't help you move."
Resist The Green Scare! event - 9Yesterday we had a big, all-day event with movies and workshops and a vegan dinner and Peg Millet singing and telling stories at the end. Peg is a famous earth firster who got arrested and jailed 16 years ago or so in a big FBI COINTELPRO operation.

The event, one of dozens around the world last week and this week to educate people about the Green Scare and raise money for the eco-prisoners, was a big success, I think, though it would have been nice to have more people, and I doubt we made enough money to pay for the space, though luckily a donor provided the cash up front for that. I also feel like it would have been nice to get more people from outside of "the choir", though we did get quite a few who none of us recognized from the usual circle of radical activists in town.

But it was good. Except that for me it was personally a huge disaster and a really bad day. I was the tech guy, doing sound and video, and i spent days beforehand preparing a DVD for the event. that was my only purpose, to be parachuted in to provide a service, to not really be part of the creative planning, to not help decide things, to just plug shit in and keep it running. I never wanted to do it, but I did it cuz friends asked, and I hated doing it all day and was just angry about it and didn't want to be there.

Similar to that sticker, I'd like to get a shirt that says "geek in recovery. No, I won't fix your computer." Or more accurately, it would have a list of all the tech stuff people are constantly asking me to do, for free: provide and set up a projector for an event, do live sound, shoot video of some event, make a DVD, help subtitle some video, host a website, make a website, revise a website, fix our internet connection, set up a computer lab, dub a video, etc etc etc.

I'm so fucking tired of it

How can I escape from that rut of being the tech guy? A few months ago me and the 2 other "techies" in the community sort of toyed with the idea of starting a tech collective. My hope was that it would take some burden off of me. But it quickly became clear it would have been just more work. i think we all, without talking about it, realized that and the project therefor never took off.

I just want out. And the most disturbing thing is that everyone always says, oh well, we should do more skillshares and trainings so that everyone can do what you do. Yeah, right. Call me cynical, but first of all, I just don't beleive there's that much motiviation in very many activist/progressives, none actually, to step up and allow that knowledge transfer to happen. They just don't care. They would rather just let all these high-tech tools and opportunities go away than take on the skills and do it themselves.

And that's okay. That's very wise. These people are smart. They know that technology and geekiness poisons the soul and they're keeping it at a distance. they know there's better, more fulfilling and healthy things they can do. And they have chumps like me and Walt and Jeff to do the dirty work, so fuck it.

Second of all, there's just way too much knowledge to be transferred. Look at that list up there. I'd have to do 19 skillshares to teach everything that routinely is expected of me to do. And like I said, most people don't care. If there was no video proejector, screw it we'll just use a white board. If there's no web, who cares, we'll print brochures and use a phone tree. no DVD? tell a story instead. people and activists lived without all these stupid gadgets anyway, for a long long time. People in their hearts know this, they know this is all extraneous, just frosting on their cake. But hey, as long as there's someone around who knows how to make and distribute the frosting, might as well slather it on, right?

I'm so tired of being that sacrificial lamb. fuck it.

The fucked up thing is, part of me LIKES being NEEDED like that. And though i'm not usually an insecure person and I usually have a pretty good self-esteem, a paranoid and fearful part of me worries that if i'm not "the tech guy" that people call for tech things, will anyone ever call me at all?

"If it wasn't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments." -They Might Be Giants

re: Being "the tech guy"

I've seen a shirt like you're talking about: I'm not as technically proficient as most of my friends, including you, I can relate to what you're saying.I don't know how I'd be surviving without the tech jobs I have. I think I'd just be falling back on older tech... printing press, typewriters, chemical cameras, paper, ink, chisels, tablets, scrolls.

re: Being "the tech guy"

"I'm so tired of being that sacrificial lamb."Not to be all theological here, but, not quite. The expiatory animal, while of great value, is a vessel for sins and anxieties. It is killed -- sacrified -- so that these bad feelings will be removed from the social environment.I wish you were a bit further in your spanish so you could really enjoy this: this's the best account of a similar situation I've read. Having said that, I don't think your problem is that you're too useful to the people around you. I think it's that you're involved in too many projects and will seldom find people as (over) qualified and dedicated as you are in most such projects.

re: Being "the tech guy"

I know exactly how you feel! Being a radical tech for a few years now has been rough. I'd like to maek a few suggestions:- Sometimes, just say no! It's easier than you think and when you do, people realize that they better learn their shit fast. If the event doesn't happen because of that, then they'll learn from that.- Always do skillshares. Yes, there's a ton of knowledge and it takes forever to transfer. But eventually, people start catching on, to certain parts, sharing that knowledge with others, doing their own skillshares and leaving you to do the shell scripting! w00p w00p! We've been doing at least a tech training a month with radioactive for two years now, and a handful of people can now do their own workshops without any help from me!- Go ahead and start that tech collective. I look at it just like the skillshares above. It might take a long time and require more effort in the beginning, but I think that just having a small group of people who feel some ownership of tech issues helps a ton. And while they're learning, there are plenty of small tasks they can help you with like that simple website or cms administration or web based email configuration. Soon, there will be a lot fewer tasks that you are the only person who can handle them. The borderlands hacklab is just getting started. We've been doing it for months, but now there are people in the group actively helping with daily admin tasks that I was handling a few months ago.I don't think that tech self-sufficiency is something that we should just ignore. Personally, I think its critical to every project I am working on to have a decent web/tech strategy. And, thanks to the few months of work I've put into spreading the knowledge, when I went away to europe for the last 5 weeks, it wasn't a disaster. In fact, there wasn't a single disaster. Hooray.In europe they've had hacklabs and tech collectives for years. When I was just in Malaga, they had a linux/cinerella based video editing machine in their computer lab that folks were using for a documentary they're working on. They told me that a few years ago, most of them didn't know a thing about open source, but now, they take it very seriously. Fadaiat, recently started, is a no border camp in the south of spain dedicated to looking at freedom of movement and freedom of knowledge. That's awesome.

re: Being "the tech guy"

me, i simply had a baby and then stopped doing most of the geek "chump" stuff you listed. helps you find out who your real friends are! hahaha (ok, i still do a few things; but thats the beauty... you also find out which web sites and DVDs you really want to do. the down side is, you have to wrestle with making those decisions -- all the good causes and you just kinda bite your tongue. luckily, there are always new waves of activist geeks out there who are young and have the energy. i think?) p.s. hi ed!

re: Being "the tech guy"

ringtones free

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.