The Rules

1.) The first and most important tenant of any geek culture is simply this: Be passionate.

It doesn't even matter what it is you're passionate about.  Though "geek" is a term inextricably linked with computing, geeks come in more varieties than can be counted.  Artist or engineer, film aficinado or programmer, the common thread among geeks is a passion for something.  That might seem to be an almost all-encompassing parameter for defining a culture, until you take a moment to look around and realize - passion is in short supply these days.

2.) The second principal of the geek creed is equally simple.  Be curious.

Don't ever be embarrassed to be curious.  The people who ask the most questions are usually the ones who end up having answers when it actually matters.

3.) Learn something new every single day, even if it's of absolutely no practical use.

4.) Though it is utterly counter-intuitive, working towards something often feels better than actually achieving it.  Try to keep that in mind when the urge to rush grips you.

5.) Be patient with your elders when they get confused by technology. My father assures me that, one day, it happens to everyone.

6.) Simplicity is the central tenant of truth, genius, and all good design.

7.) Take a break from all your electronic connections to the world once in a while.  You'll be amazed at how life slows down.

8.) Avoid anything idiot-proof.

Idiots will stymie themselves regardless of what safeguards are put into place, but the streamlining that constitutes idiot-proofing removes all the little snags and customizations that might inspire a stroke of genius.  When you see "idiot-proof" read "genius-proof."

9.) Be careful of any situation you have to reason through logically.  If you need to work to reason out the matter, you're probably missing something that has absolutely nothing to with logic - like somebody's feelings.

10.) Do yourself a favor.  Learn to study as early in life as possible.

11.) You don't really understand something until you've taught it to someone else. 

Whether it's self-defense or particle physics, if you really want to master a subject, go back and introduce someone with absolutely no experience whatsoever to the subject.

12.) When it comes time for a difficult conversation, always tell the hard truth first.

13.) If giving the name of the city you live in, the college you attended, and the company you work for is your life story, it's time for you to get a new life.

Start by disconnecting your cable and putting the television in storage.

14.) Ask a visionary or pioneer how they got into their field.  You know what they'll say?  "It's what I've wanted to do since I was a kid."  There's a lesson there.

15.) Don't confuse culture with character. 

As the media sweeps the world along at a faster and faster pace, too many people are adopting stereotypes as public personas and using memes and sitcom lines as conversation.

16.) Practice does make perfect  - deliberate practice.  According to K. Anders Ericsson, the three components of deliberate practice are setting specific goals, receiving immediate feedback, and focusing on technique over results.

17.) Adventure begins with trouble.

Adventure can't be scheduled and it isn't the product of a well-laid plan executed as expected.  Adventure happens when you get lost, when you have no idea what you're doing, when you're forced to rely on complete strangers to save yor ass, when all your plans are ruined, when you get caught in the rain, and when you end up in deep shit.  And adventure in the spice of life, so go out and get yourself into trouble and often as possible.  That's how all the best memories get made.

18.) If you're over eighteen, always have a suit ready.  The world expects it.

19.) It no longer matters who originated content. It’s who disseminated it.

20.) Set aside one day a year to do something that makes you feel like a kid.

Halloween is a particularly good choice, but pretty much any day will do.

21.) Whenever a heated debate erupts over a question of "either / or," the answer is almost always "both / and."

22.) Live beneath your means.  Far beneath your means.

At some point in most people's lives, they realize that their possessions have become a hindrance, rather than a comfort.

23.) When two people share something, let one person do the dividing, and let the other choose their portion first.

24.) Don't give the Joneses a second thought.  You haven't seen their credit history.

25.) Programming is the new literacy.

...or, at least, if not programming, then the ability to fluidly adapt  technologies to specific situations.  Thanks to the ubiquity of  technology, tomorrow's generations will be stratified according to the depth of their understanding of technology.  Don't believe me?  Go browse the list of  programming gurus who top Forbes' list of the world's richest people.

26.) Own books - good books, and lots of them. 
They're friends even in the worst of times, and they say a lot more about you than a shelf of videos.

27.) If you're not paying for it, you're the product.

We all want stuff for free, but we rarely stop to consider what the hidden costs attach to the things we consider free. Costs like privacy and peace of mind. I lifted this rule from a discussion on MetaFilter on the overhaul of the social aggregation news site Digg last year. The site's redesign had very little to do with improving the user experience and a whole lot to do with positioning users to see content they're intended to see.

28.) Read the great speeches. 

While books reveal the knowledge of an era, it's the great orators who reveal its spirit.

29.) When you have to make a really difficult choice between two options, flip a coin.  When the coin is the air, you'll know what it is you really want.

30.) The first rule of business is that everything takes longer than expected.  Everything.

31.) Be wary of consistency.  It's the surest sign of a lie.  Even if it's a lie you're telling yourself.

32.) Computer programming is omnipotence without omniscience.

The flow of data in the universe of the computer chip can be controlled absolutely.  Everything that goes right and everything that goes wrong is entirely the programmer's doing. Programming is microcosmic godhood.  It's just too bad that all that power doesn't come with the requisite wisdom to use it.

33.) Old movies are worth watching, too.

Written with old B-movies in mind, but especially relevant to Valentine's weekend.  After all, everyone knows all of the best romance movies are in black and white.

34.) Life doesn't amount to much without someone to spend it with.

...and it helps if you get to spend it with your best friend.

35.) You will attract who you deserve. If you don’t like who you are getting, change yourself.  If you can’t change yourself, get a reality check.

Sort of a Tough Love version of "you have to love yourself before you can love someone else."

36.) If you aren't comfortable placing the same information on a sign in your front yard, don't put it online.

Your online life is more public than you think.  Always.

37.) Want to be a leader? Wash the Dishes When Nobody Else Will.

Source: "Wash the Dishes When Nobody Else Will" by Sash Catanzanzarite, February 8, 2011.

38.) If you cheat in engineering classes, you will kill people later. 

For your own sake and everyone else, either quit or learn the material.

39.) Bad things happen quickly; it's the good things that take time. 

For some reason, people always expect life to work the other way around, but it never does.

40.) Always acknowledge your sources and inspirations.

No one will think less of you for having built on the shoulders of other men.  In fact, most people will think better of you for the acknowledgment.

41.) Freely teach other people what you know. 

People, most especially coworkers, resent those who are stingy with what their knowledge, but they respect teachers, even after they've surpassed them.  This goes double for people in the technology sector.

42.) Disconnection is the new counterculture.

Source: "Exodus" by Nicholas Carr, April 8, 2010.

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