The technology industry has often been likened to the fashion industry in the way it creates myths and icons. So, for example, in place of Coco Chanel read Bill Gates; and for Yves St Laurent, see Larry Ellison. Warning: there now follows a pseudo-intellectual attempt to explain this really quite weird phenomena.
Wikipedia explains how in The Fashion System the French mega-brain Barthes showed how adulteration of signs becomes translated into contagious words:
“In this work he explained how in the fashion world any word could be loaded with idealistic emphasis. So, if popular fashion says that a ‘blouse’ is ideal for a certain situation or ensemble, this idea is immediately naturalized and accepted as truth, even though the actual sign could just as easily be interchangeable with ‘skirt’, ‘vest’ or any number of combinations. In the end Barthes’ Mythologies became absorbed into culture, as he found many third parties asking him to comment on a certain cultural phenomenon.”
Unbelievably up myself as I am, I think something similar has happen to geekiness and words that have grown up around its megastar personalities, or at least some of those on the bleeding edge of Web2.0. In the analogy above substitute the words ‘cloud computing’ for ‘blouse’ for instance.
As this habit has gathered momentum an even more enjoyable aspect of geek mythology has flourished – that of the Geek-in-chief urban myth: from Bill Gates dropping his $1,000 note to Thomas Watson’s market for only five computers; to my overall favourite – SAP’s Hasso Plattner alleged moon to Larry Ellison from his yacht (apparently he lost the race). Is there any other industry that creates such a (frequently untrue) mystique around itself? Remember the Y2k bug? Indeed, apparently the iPhone has a kill 3G switch?
I’d love to start a list of all the weirdest, most apocryphal, most obtuse and just the plain bull surrounding all this Geekery, so do let us know your favourites.