Dealing with computers day in and day out can be a harrowing experience.  In difficult times, or even when things are idle, finding some spirituality can help cope with the experience—Techies: I give you the Eightfold Noble Geek Path.

The Noble Geek Path outlines eight aspects that closely mirror the Buddhist tenets of the Eightfold Noble Path, and they are divided into three categories:  wisdom, ethical conduct, and concentration. They’re just more geeky.

Editor’s Note: we’re not advocating a particular brand of religion here, just having some fun. For the love of FSM, please leave the religious flame wars at home. Image by Okko Pyykkö


Image by Yatri Trivedi; The Geek Vow in Sanskrit (“I go to the refuge of the web.”)

Right Data is the basis for Geekdom.  In order to understand, you must have a basis for knowledge, and knowledge comes from both experience and study.  Your data should have integrity, and you must use constant MD5 checksums to be sure that it is properly copied.  You must patch files so that they improve, and you must organize it for easy retrieval.

Right Motivation guides the practice of Right Data.  Your decisions over morality and technological progress should be firmly rooted in Right Data, and having a proper motivation is essential to accomplishing this.  Right Motivation should always be guided by the principles of user-friendliness, but can be confined to a targeted base of users to better enhance usability and productivity.  The ability to see your user-base and take decisions with Right Data as context should harmonize with end-users and developers alike.

Ethical Conduct

Right Partitioning allows you to separate and manage data.  Unix permissions are not preserved in FAT32, and the NTFS “hidden” flag isn’t respected in HFS+.  Ext3 is backwards compatible as ext2, but journaling is lost.  Each partition serves a purpose, and each file system has its strengths and weaknesses.  As such, you should take care when copying files back and forth to not alter its integrity.  Each system has its ins and outs, and only through co-operation can data be properly passed from one to another without loss of quality or attributes. 

Partitioning helps this, but only when it contributes to the overall functioning of the system, and not when it is just for partitioning’s sake.  Sometimes, partitions should be merged, or used simultaneously for one system, and so on.  Partitioning should be used for the overall unity of the system.  This is not limited to hard drives; gadgets, ideas, and people should harmonize through optimal organization for the overall unity of geek-kind. Image by KamikaZen

Right Backup allows for preservation.  Incremental backups are extremely helpful, but full system backups are essential.  No loss of data should occur if it can be helped, and timely recovery is of crucial importance.  Do not take unnecessary risks with irrecoverable data.  All users’ data is equally valuable, so do not let anyone be without backup.  This applies to all data, digital and otherwise.

Right Security goes hand in hand with backup.  Data stewardship is as much every admin’s responsibility as it is every user’s.  Each should do their part towards building a secure environment for all, and helpfully encourage others to do the same.  In this way, you can more efficiently contribute towards the end-user’s (as well as developer’s) experience.  Applying this in a real-life way means to assess risk-taking behaviors and work for the well-being of geeks everywhere.  Right Security is integral to laying the path for digital harmony.


 computer graveyard mandala

Image by Bastiaan Bakker, “Computer Graveyard Mandala”

Right Administration is the application of the Eightfold Noble Geek Path to not just the systems that bring people together, but to the users themselves.  Principles of systems do not always apply to people, at least not in a ready form, and neither do principles of dealing with people apply directly to systems.  Being able to differentiate between the two and respond accordingly is important.  Interpretation of rules and ethics can vary from person to person, and there is no universal transition layer.  Because of this, it takes focus and study, and an entirely separate set of skills to be able to both administrate and moderate users.  The social nature of moderation helps all to learn how to use the publicly available “human APIs.”

Right Observation is a state of awareness that is developed through study and dedication.  It is the ability to apply a passive attention so as to learn to observe as objectively as possible, and subjectively as needed.  It is the sys-admin’s ability to monitor server status, the moderator’s ability to view forum posts, the end user’s ability to view content, and the developer’s ability to parse code.  Right Observation grants one the ability to witness struggle but to not be swayed by it.  It allows the individual’s awareness to gain access to more uncorrupted streams of data, and to parse through tampered bits with relative ease.  It forms the basis for Right Developing.

Right Developing is the dedication of contribution to, and experience of, code.  Those who give their life to the sometimes monastic practice of programming can, just as through meditation, gain spiritual discipline.  This allows them to be at peace with any script, program, system, and network, to transcend 0s and 1s via an experience of non-duality and oneness.  Continual Developing hones this state of being further until there is no distinction between coder and code.

There is suffering in our technological world, and it has a cause: attachment.  Attachment to the newest gadget of the day, the bleeding-edge release of some particular software, even the virus-riddled attachments of email.  Take refuge in the greatest network alive, and maybe you can gain some peace from the Eightfold Noble Geek Path.