Tech buffs set to geek out in Bohol

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IT’S full steam ahead for the 2016 “Geeks on a Beach” (GOAB) technology and startup conference at the Bellevue Hotel in Panglao Island in Bohol on Aug. 25-26.

But as GOAB is fast approaching and getting more of the public’s attention, some people had become curious and wondered what are geeks, and what does the word “geek” mean.

Movies characterize them like nerds: skinny or chubby but oddly dressed, smart but socially inept or introvert, with sleek or unkempt hair, dental braces, oversized spectacles, and with the ever-present backpack worn on two shoulders.

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However, contrary to the stereotype popularized by Hollywood, geeks look and act ordinarily just like the rest of the human race in mainstream society, and also have a normal social life.

People like Microsoft developer Bill Gates, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are geeks and may have one or a combination of the above-mentioned attributes, but they appear outwardly ordinary and don’t have eccentric behaviors.

The only behavioral trait that sets them out of the ordinary is their remarkable obsession with computer technology. Thus, a “geek” — a slang term originally used to describe an unfashionable or socially inept person – is a digital-technology expert or enthusiast.

Geeks spend 88% of their time in their air-conditioned cubicles, hunched over their laptops or PCs working on their projects, whether it’s a computer software, an application, a startup, or a website.

They seldom venture outdoors and sometimes never when they’re in the middle of working on a computer project or a product.

“These guys won’t stop at nothing until they get things done,” said Dave Overton, the chief geek of GOAB and CEO of Sym.ph. “I know, because I’ve been there, and it’s not healthy. It’s like you have been sucked up to another planet where you don’t feel tired or hungry.”

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This never-surrender attitude is admirable, but this would lead to brain drain and physical exhaustion as well, CTO of Sym.ph and GOAB emcee for the past 3 years Albert Padin chimed in.

“You’re gonna be spending far too many hours with what you’re working on because you believe that it’s gonna work, until you realized that you haven’t slept and eaten for quite a long while,” said Padin, a 28-year-old Google Developer Expert who also co-founded Sym.ph and has worked on consumer, enterprise, and government software products.

Due to this bad side effect, geeks would somehow stumble in their work and could not finish whatever they’re working on.

To help her fellow geeks in this situation, according to Overton and Padin, alphageek Tina Amper in 2011 established TechTalks.ph — a benevolent community for technology and startup buffs – and later assisted in bringing Startup Weekend to the Philippines.
After hosting the first Startup Weekend in Cebu sometime in 2012, Amper felt she needed to do more for her fellow geeks, whose number has grown at a rapid rate. And the rest was history.

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“Geeks on a Beach” has become an international confab and has greatly contributed to the empowerment of Philippine startups since its first staging in September 2013 in Boracay.

It was also instrumental to the success of some startups like Cogito.ph, Salarium, and Zipmatch.com.

The 4th GOAB, a unique confab featuring the cutting-edge of the tech world in a laid-back atmosphere, is the first startup event to be held right after former President Benigno Aquino III signed the bill creating the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in May.

With this year’s theme “Empowering startups, leading change,” GOAB will once more highlight communities of startups or innovation-driven enterprises based on software or apps, which have seen remarkable growth in the Philippines in the last few years.

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