inessential by Brent Simmons

Ratings Geeks

I’m a geek—a software developer, a literature geek, a language geek, a history geek. Even a Star Trek geek.

So when I use the word geek in the following I don’t mean it disparagingly.

I’ve identified a sub-species of computer geek that I call the ratings geek.

These are the folks who talk about directed graphs. These are the folks who make feature requests for NetNewsWire that have to do with automatically applying ratings to subscriptions. (Ratings based on things like how often does one follow a site’s links, how often does a site update, etc.)

Ratings geeks have a better grasp of math than this college-dropout-literature-major does.

The common thread to ratings geeks is that they want the computer to observe their behavior, and sometimes the behavior of other people too, and move things around accordingly.

I’m going to have to learn more about this stuff, clearly—there are lots of ratings geeks out there, and they have some truly excellent ideas.

But there’s one thing I’d like to remind ratings geeks of: most people are not ratings geeks. In fact, most computer geeks are not ratings geeks.

So, what does that mean, in practical terms? Nothing in particular. I’m just saying it.

Just that empathy is the essential quality in a software designer, and remembering that not even all geeks are the same is important. (I’m as guilty as anyone in sometimes forgetting that principle.)