I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with, junior nerd extraordinaire, Kevin Driscoll. Kevin is a bright young man with an
even brighter future.
NW: When did you realize you might be a nerd?
KD: I can pinpoint two patches of time that may be the earliest
indicators. The first is just a vague memory. It's 1985 and I'm sitting
up in bed groggily rubbing my eyes, trying to stay awake to watch my dad
calibrate the joystick on our new Apple //c. The second is a little
glimpse of my dad and I playing basketball in the street. I was
to him how I could break the backboard on our cracked version of "Larry
Bird Vs. Dr. J." I only now understand the look on his face when i told
him that, while i could not beat him at real basketball, i could
beat him at video game basketball. I felt empowered by computers because
understood them better than my parents did.
There was no turning back by about 1988. I'd write little BASIC programs
on my friend's TRS-80, so that we could pretend it was the spaceship's
computer when we'd build forts in his basement.
NW: Discuss some advantages as well as disadvantages to being a nerd.
KD: It's really hard to say. I think balance is essential. There are people
who don't realize how nerdy I can be. So it's great when all of a sudden
I'm talking Dungeons&Dragons like the d20's will never die. This
"undercover" nerdiness is how nerdy things become cool on a broader scale.
My current #1 disadvantage is my slipping grasp on proper conversational
etiquette. I've grown accustomed to typing out my thoughts and I end up
interrupting people a lot when they talk. It makes me feel ashamed and
pretty much like an all-around jerk. Admitting I have a problem is the
first step, so I'm on the right track, I suppose.
NW: What nerdly aspect makes you stand out among your peers?
KD: I am a founding member of the highly influential, underground
*the flying tigers kite club.* ( http://flyingtigerskiteclub.org ) This
affords me certain .. privileges .. that i really cannot divulge at this
moment, but let me say that I have a deep appreciation for all that the
group has done for me. While I simply adore the perks, it's important to
note that I have not lost hold of what's most important- I am happiest
just to be celebrating the beauty of 3$ kites once again.
NW: How has being a nerd influenced your romantic life?
KD: The first girl that I ever had a serious crush on exchanged compuserve
emails with me for about a month before breaking my heart and revealing
that she was in love with a high school boy. A few years later, I asked a
girl out to the senior prom over instant messenger. She and I gradually
became an item and for 2 years maintained a wonderful long-distance love
affair between our respective colleges. During this time, we each had a
secret domain name for the other to set as their web browser's starting
page. We would leave cute little messages to each other, it was great.
Who says 1s and 0s don't represent a beating heart?
NW: Describe you worst programming/or hardware disaster. How did you resolve it? What did you learn from it?
KD: Hm. Well, right now my machine is only working when i have a honeywell
desk fan placed right up against the motherboard. It's certainly on it's
last legs. The serial ports are held on with duct tape and every so often
the cd-rom will come loose in it's casing and start jumping around. I
guess these problems haven't been resolved yet, but it's pretty funny
NW: If you had to choose a nerd role model, who would it be and why?
Definitely Dave Gonzalves. He's a student, currently studying at
Northeastern. We went to the same highschool and the kid just does the
best stuff with electronics. At one point he had a CB radio modem running
in the classroom and it made all the computer speakers squeal. Whenever
would happen everyone would go, "Da-a-a-ve" like some TV sitcom.
As far as someone famous goes, Nikola Tesla earns my nod. The man is a
NW: How do you want to be remembered?
KD: I don't know for sure. All I am certain of is that I want to be
remembered. Why else would I document my life online? I have this urge
to leave something behind. ( http://crashingjets.nu/ -- not too unlike a
slug's trail. ) I suppose it's a natural human desire for immortality.
NW: When you're not glued to your computer, what do you like to do for fun?
KD: I'm really into music and I've been playing in bands for half a
decade. I've met some of the best people in the world through this
passionate pursuit. I listen to lots of different stuff, but at the
I'm moved by an odd mishmash of 80's pop and really screaming, abrasive
I spend a lot of time and money taking polaroids with an old one button
that I bought off of ebay a few months ago. One pack of film costs three
times what I paid for the cam but, as any polaroid enthusiast will attest
to, there is really no way to stop.
NW: What's your take on napster?
KD: I'm disappointed that they are moving over to a pay-oriented setup. It
doesn't surprise me, though. Napster has always been a profit-seeking
company. This is not a bad thing, but it just means they aren't going to
be the poster children for completely giving stuff away. I totally love
that the kid who started the whole thing wrote Napster when he was 19.
I'm psyched that so much discussion has resulted from this dispute. There
is truly a corporate stranglehold in place around the necks of the world's
creative communities. There are only three major record labels and seven
major television companies ( for 500 channels! ) in the US right now.
explains the nearly complete lack of substance in mainstream media. Every
so often a gem will slip through ( the daily show, the simpsons,
beck ), but it's a constant struggle to break free of the bonds of focus
groups and mass marketing.
Bands on the level that I am involved with benefit greatly from the
availability of mp3 and the www. I sent CDs all around the country based
on people listening to songs I posted on our website. (
Metallica's arguments and intentions are honest, but I don't think Lars is
the best spokesman. On PBS, Chuck D did a great job stating his
arguments. The major labels are afraid that the internet will strip the
blinders from around the eyes ( and ears ) of the general
public. Metallica has benefited from the system and actually made some
good records in the process, but they seem to forget the dozens of bands
who didn't "make it." I'm personally sick of the rock'n'roll fairy tale
and would much rather see an explosion of localized scenes; essentially a
throwback to a century ago. Hiphop and hardcore/punk totally prove how
exciting music can be on a down and dirty, grassroots level.
I think copyright law needs a major revision. Its antiquated wording
restrains some of the most powerful creative forces at work today. It's
surprise that aging senators do not understand the complexity of these
issues. I just hope that people like Chuck D will continue to speak for
people like me in the public forum, because it's the unfortunate truth
you have to be famous or wealthy to get your voice heard these days.
Okay, whew! that was a tangent!
NW: And lastly... If you were a PC, what model and make would you be?
KD: Damn this is tough. On the one hand, I could be super-powerful like HAL
or maybe the big mainframe in Wargames. ( Do I lose points for not
remembering it's name? ) ed:The government mainframe was called Woper. . And on the other hand, there is definitely something to be
said for the TRaSh-80 or even an Amiga. I think I'll settle right in the
middle and be one of the new mac Cubes.