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Journal Bruce Perens's Journal: Have you passed through the nerd filter? 4

There is a "nerd filter" that people like me tend to pass through without realizing. On the other side of this filter, we are very likely to meet people we know, and in general people like us.

My most recent episode was at the 9000 foot visitor station on Mauna Kea. The folks there said that I shouldn't attempt to drive up to the telescopes without a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. So, I went in the parking lot and accosted occupants of the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle that came by. The driver of said vehicle had seen me lecture in San Francisco. I got my ride.

Just by standing at that 9000 foot visitor station, I'd passed through the nerd filter.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened to come upon a local radio club's ham radio field day operation while hiking in the woods with my wife. An co-worker from 10 years ago walked up. It turned out he'd just gotten his ham license.

This stuff happens all of the time. Of course it helps that I am somewhat recognizable in tech circles, so people who know of me tend to walk up, but on the other hand I am not that well known.

What are your experiences beyond the nerd filter?


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Have you passed through the nerd filter?

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  • Hawaii Volcanoes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoRK ( 10018 ) * on Sunday July 27, 2003 @08:24PM (#6547512) Homepage Journal
    I had a similar experience at Hawaii Volcanoes park, but mine was on Maui at Haleakala. I was seeking permission to fly a kite on the summit to do some aerial photography. Flying kites, however, is not allowed. It seems the justification is to prevent people like paragliders from launching out of the park and causing safety problems for you, the other patrons, the observatories, the endangered wildlife and the environment -- as you could easily land off-trail.

    I had gotten a couple people that work at the park interested in seeing my permission get through, but I only had about 3 weeks to work with and it was over Christmas and New Year's, so I wasn't able to do it at that time, as the permission had to come from the parks department in Washington DC. Everyone I talked to wanted to see it happen, just to see how it worked. There was obviously a lot of geek factor going on, as the rangers at the volcanoes aren't really anything like the woodsmen-type rangers you might find in the 'mainland' parks. When I go back again (probably within the next year or two), they have assured me that they can probably get permission from DC given enough lead time. I can't wait. Aerial panoramics above the volcanoes will be something else!

    • Incedentally, you *can* fly kites in Hawaii's state parks. I got some nice shots at the Iao Needle, though I couldn't tilt the camera up above horizontal, so I couldn't actually shoot the needle itself...

  • but in a good way, of course. :)

  • Sorry, no nerd filter stories, but there's definitely a parallel in the Traveler/Backpacker's circuits in Europe. (I just got back from 6 weeks of backpacking, so it's on the brain.) Everywhere you go, you meet other backpackers. Hotels and hostels are natural meeting points, but most of the sights are filled with foreigners as well. You can easily recognize fellow backpackers by our clothes - wrinkled and trashy compared to most of the must-look-fabulous-at-all-hours European style. If they have white snea

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