Building a cabin in the field of dreams

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in Culture | 0 comments

Here’s a story from our friend Kyle Shannon, former Creative Director and Founder of It aptly illustrates his experience of the gap between geeks and non-geeks.

It’s a fable, and even has a moral.


Once upon a time there was an open field of wildflowers with a stream running through it and birds and insects and deer bounding around. And it was decreed that in this field Geeks and Non-geeks would live together. Soon, the Non-geeks are running around catching butterflies and splashing in the water. And the Geeks are rolling their eyes. They realize that without shelter this won’t be fun for very long… and for them it’s not all that fun anyway.

So the Geeks decide to build a cabin. Now they have a problem to solve. They get really busy designing and measuring and testing materials and looking up weather statistics. NOW they are having fun. (The Non-geeks shake their heads that the Geeks can’t seem to enjoy this beautiful place!)

The Geeks really love this cabin, it has it all: The problem; the solution; and the structure to live within. And since Geeks love a big hairy problem to solve that has many layers, this cabin will keep them engaged long after the walls go up, since they’ll get to solve questions like where do we store things and what will we sleep on. And how do we minimize heat loss in the winter?

Non-geeks are really glad that the geeks are so obsessed with the cabin, but as they look around, they want the cabin to “fit in” to the beauty of the landscape… so they want to paint it. This is annoying, but not a big deal for the geeks … so they just roll their eyes and grudgingly ask “What color?”

Encouraged, the non-geeks huddle under a tree and come up with THE BEST IDEA! They run back and tell the Geeks about their new plan to re-orient the cabin so the big front window faces south so they will get better light in the cabin all year long… OH and that’s also where the NEW COVERED PORCH should go so we can sit out there and watch the beautiful sunsets on the 10 NEW ROCKING CHAIRS that also need to be built. Isn’t that the BEST IDEA???

For the Non-geeks, this request doesn’t feel too dissimilar from changing the color of the cabin. But of course, THE GEEKS REVOLT… They would have to re-engineer the entire foundation, dismantle what they have already built and in some sense start over… and all that to end up with EXACTLY THE SAME THING… A CABIN WITH 4 WALLS THAT PROTECTS US FROM THE ELEMENTS. The solution to the problem is exactly the same so all of this extra work from the non-geeks is NON-ESSENTIAL and therefore likely not even worth a response other than… NO.

Maybe the Non-geeks should have separated their request into component parts and prioritized them.

Maybe the Geeks should have told the non-geeks which parts of their request was ridiculously hard and which parts were easy.

Maybe they would have ended up with a south-facing porch and a few rocking chairs, and they would have enjoyed looking at the sunset together.


For more information about how you can leverage geeks to get the technology you want, contact or call 310-694-0450.

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