Let's Use Our Geekiness for Good!


Analyst firm the Yankee Group put out a paper today calling for President Obama to focus on the nation’s broadband and technology, suggesting, among other things, that DTV delays be halted, that new multitenant housing and office buildings be required to have fiber installed during construction, and that femtocells be used to expand wireless coverage inside federal buildings. But the one I’d like to see implemented is this one:

Create a Community Service Geek Squad to help analog citizens: Your first proclamation as president called on all of us to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this nation for our new century. Yankee Group surveys show that 40 percent of U.S. citizens aren’t very interested in technology, yet many would use it if they knew how. At the same time, countless high school and college students live and breathe technology and are eager to answer your call to service. A national Community Service Geek Squad could help seniors and other technology-challenged communities become more connected with society while providing experience to young people at the same time.

I used to volunteer with a group that taught disadvantaged adults how to use computers so they could get better jobs. It was astonishing to me that in 2001 there were grown men and women who couldn’t use a computer mouse, or who had never worked on Windows. A digital divide still exists, however, and I believe that many of us would be happy to spend an hour a week to help someone get comfortable with a computer, or maybe offer to set up a Wi-Fi network to help bridge that divide. Plus, getting people comfortable with computers is the first step to getting them to want to go online — something just as important as providing the actual broadband access.


Thomas Whitney

I agree wholeheartedly.

If only to teach folks how to resource their basic needs by using the web. That way, if we all do our part the government can concentrate on the infrastructure and upgrading digital security.


Gabe L.

I’m shocked Google hasn’t backed such an initiative already. They do many initiatives, with the assumption that more internet users drives more revenue. I’d be willing to bet that at some point they will champion an idea like this.


This would be a worthwhile effort. There are many who need help – whether it be setting up a system or configuring their network – wired or wireless.

Stacey Higginbotham

Brian, StreetWise is what I did! I’d love to see about setting up a program in Austin. I know we have a ton of geeks who are community oriented. Can you hook me up with the appropriate person at StreetWise to see how y’all did it and if something might work down here? They can contact me through the info email.

Geeks Who Care

Thanks for mentioning StreetWise Partners. I have added them to the links list for the Geeks Who Care blog. I wish I could do more, but being unemployed I can only try and help other geeks find opportunities right now, and help others when I can ~ Jim Cox

Geeks Who Care

I couldn’t agree with you more! With the current economic downturn there are many geeks (young and old) who could participate in volunteer projects, and as you pointed out there are many people out there who would appreciate some geek help.

If the US is to rebound and recover from the economy, a majority of US citizens must have basic computing skills. Geeks can help these people learn new skills and get online, and in the process help themselves by helping others.

I feel so strongly about this that I have created a blog to list possible volunteer opportunities for geeks. Right now it’s a solo project with a local focus, but I would really like to have others come on board and expand the scope of the project from local to national, and maybe beyond.

It’s been slow going, and the one things I have noticed that while it’s easy to connect cables to build a network, it’s a lot harder to connect geeks into a network.

Hopefully more geeks will join this project, or inspired by your post and the posts of others, start their own geek volunteer projects.

Cheers ~ Jim Cox



These suggestions are interesting, at least in my opinion. The ideas expressed in the Yankee Group “memo” could catalyze wireless broadband adoption, particularly in urban areas. I question the resistance which would come from telecom industry lobbyists given these initiatives would accelerate “cutting the cord”. I also think job growth in tech, particularly wireless chips, broadband infrastructure, and device manufacturing could occur.

I must ask, playing devils advocate, aren’t these developments happening in the market without government stimulus? As a point of reference, you wrote an article in recent weeks highlighting wireless broadband growth.

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