The Rockstar Nerd [Personality Types in IT]

Another personality type for you.  The Rockstar.  This person can write Korn-Shell scripts while listening to KORN or even playing KORN – Word Up! one handed on Rock Band.  So skilled at their job, but you would never know it when they are walking down the street that they are a true nerd at heart until you start talking to them.

The typical career entry for the Rockstar isn’t the way most people get into their careers.  Most Rockstar personalities would rather ‘hack’ their way into a job than to take the normal route of studying in college, getting a degree, an internship and a mediocre programming job at their daddy’s pesticide business.  This is the guy you run into in the computer labs late at night, wearing dark clothes, combat boots and sporting a pack of Camels next to his two litre of Mountain Dew.  Yes, that email you got last week about changing your password because all Engineering lab accounts were hacked?  That was him.  He wouldn’t ever tell anyone because his true passion is now moved from hacking into your university accounts to using their IP space to hack into some secret government compound…or just finding out if he can hack the Camel website to see if he can get more Camel bucks to buy a new Joe the Camel shirt.

Further on in his ‘career’ he realizes that he is really good at playing guitar or drums.  He forms a band of fellow other “Rockstar Nerds” and they do fairly well.  Except for one day while practicing in the garage of the Co-Op he lives in at the university the FBI shows up and starts talking to him about why everyone’s pictures in the FBI database were changed to pictures from the World of Warcraft.  He snickers slightly because to him it was a huge joke, but instead of arresting the Rockstar, the FBI hires him to be a consultant to keep out other hacker-nerds.

Famous (Real) Rockstar Nerds:

Kevin Mitnick

Famous Hacker that used social networking to gain access to a bunch of cool stuff (like free bus rides).  Convicted several times for hacking people’s stuff, he was on the run from US Marshals and even was chased by a helicopter.  Now he runs a computer consulting company and is probably a billionaire.

Here is one of the first documented cases of the Rockstar Nerd…and he just so happens to be wearing black and I bet he was listening to some Iron Maiden before court as he enters the U.S. Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C. Feb. 17, 1995.

Mitnick was arrested Feb. 15, 1995 in connection with a daring and mysterious Christmas Day 1994 break-in on the computer of Tsutomu Shimomura, one of the world’s top computer security experts. (AP Photo/Raleigh News & Observer-Jim Bounds)



Peter Zatko (otherwise known as Mudge) –

Ok, this one isn’t hard.  But a shining example of the Rockstar nerd gone good.  Mudge testifies in this 1998 photo before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on computer hacking. “Mudge” along with fellow hackers told the committee that computer security is so lax, they could disable the entire Internet in a half-hour. (AP Photo/William Philpott)

From Wikipedia, he was an avid guitar player.  And well judging from that awesome rockstar hair, I’m thinking he could probably rock it out while hacking along at his day job at DARPA.  Here is a salute to you Mudge!  Please don’t hack me.

Famous (Fictional) Rockstar Nerds:

I present to you NEO from the Matrix and Abby from NCIS.  Do you agree?

Of course there are a ton of other shining examples, but I think these are pretty good.

Until I elaborate more, on some of these topics, I leave this blog post up for discussion.  I’m sure you have seen them on the street, I’m sure you may have co-workers like them, just be careful, be nice and don’t forget to appreciate them.  After all they might be trying to hack your website or your bank account now…  Maybe you should invite them over for a game of Rock Band, or just to thrash.  The Rockstar Nerd…




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2 Responses to The Rockstar Nerd [Personality Types in IT]

  1. Nick says:

    “Famous Hacker that used social networking to gain access to a bunch of cool stuff”

    Uh… you actually mean ‘social engineering’, not ‘social networking’.

    • sangeek says:

      Yep! Thanks for pointing that out. I tend to type what I think and sometimes thoughts come out randomly. I am stocking up on Ginka Biloba to prevent my random thoughts from doing this too much…. Thank goodness for Costco.

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