Does Barack Obama's have "very high" "geek quotient" as chief technology officer -- a.k.a official White House geek -- Todd Park claimed today in a CNN interview? It is one thing to do things that one might consider geeky, it is quite another to score "very high" on the official geek scale. Park claims Obama deserves this "very high" ranking as a "a hugely enthusiastic proponent of the power of data, technology and innovation to advance national priorities," he told CNN's undefined. But being a real-deal geek involves a total embodiment of nerd-culture. Does Obama have that kind of dork-cred? Let's take a look.
In order to quantify Obama's geek quotient, we took a look at all the things that might give him geek-cred. In order to earn a "very high" on the geek-o-meter, at least half of Obama's nerd-activities would have to qualify as "High-Geeky." Let's see how he does.
Geek Quotient: High-Geeky. Star Wars is pretty mainstream nerd. According to The Atlantic's calculation, which takes into account both box office and critical success, it is the fourth most successful movie franchise of all time. That's a little too popular to qualify as geeky. But the consistency of his pop-culture taste -- that he also likes Star Trek and collects comic books, too -- pushes this up a notch to really very geeky.
Geek Quotient: High-Geeky. This is the No. 1 geek trait: No friends. The entire point of being cool is to get invited to make everyone fall in love with you and do whatever you want. Benign social tyranny, basically. It's not just that Obama can't convince his friends where to go for dinner. Obama can't convince Congress to pass the laws he wants.
Geek Quotient: Regular-Geeky. Using social media doesn't make Obama a geek, but knowing about it before his peers does. He's like that nerdy-kid who reads the blogs (see below) to see what Internet thing is on the verge of blowing up Being on the Internet does not make one a geek, knowing the nuances of it, does. He even gets that Pinterest is the one with all the ladies on it, getting Michelle to join.
Geek Quotient: Regular-Geeky. This is the ultimate nerd uniform. The president looks like an eighth-grader who had a growth spurt. However, geekdom is more about personality than external adornments.
Barack Obama reads blogs. Obama reads blogs all day, like a nerd, instead of wasting time the way non-nerds do, which we've heard involves a lot of beer koozies, skiing, and sunglasses. Obama's staff can't peel him away from the Internet. Staffers wanted to scale back his BlackBerrying in 2008, when the New York Times reported, "his advisers wanting to keep him from reading blogs and news updates all day long, yet aides said he still seemed to hear about nearly everything in real time." Obama's blog-reading has come up several more times over the years, and in May, he outed himself as a reader of the No. 1 news site for cool nerds, The Atlantic Wire.
Geek Quotient: Low-Geeky. While reading things on the Internet is geeky, Obama deserves some leeway on this measure, since the president should know what the other nerds of the nation are talking about.
Geek Quotient: Low-Geeky. Fanboys are huge nerd-faces, but Obama isn't a full fledged Apple-phile. He still uses that BlackBerry. And he once admitted not knowing how to use other gadgetry. "With iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," he told a group of students, before he got that iPad 2, we guess. Plus, having an inclination for Apple products, these days, is more the hip-kid thing to do.
Tallying up our score-card, only two of Obama's geeky behaviors scored high, leading us to conclude that Obama does not, in fact, score "very high" on the Geek quotient and that he is just run-of-the-mill geeky.