Friday, 14 November 2014

Geeks, Nerds, and Translators

My favourite student job was a short stint at Siemens in Erlangen in 2002 which involved testing newly developed software. I simply had to play around with it and try to find out where it didn’t work as it should. Or, in computer programming speak, my job was to define bugs. I was in a room full of computer programmers who were working on this new software. Among other things, they fixed the bugs that I and another student, who came in on different days, had identified. Work in this room was focused, productive, and above all quiet – just as work for me as a translator is today.

It is now okay to be an introvert!

People doing quiet work, many of whom are introverts, have had a lot of good press in recent years. This is good news to all introverts, including geeks, nerds, and translators too: it is now okay to be an introvert! This has not always been the case. An article on Psychology Today in 2010 therefore even referred to it as the revenge of the introverts. Previously overlooked as people who love hiding behind their computer screens, they are now valued much more for what they’ve got to offer.

So what exactly defines the personality trait of introversion? Introverts enjoy solitary work, in particular work that allows them to dive in with few interruptions. They tend to be better at writing and listening than talking, and prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities. Perhaps, introversion can best be defined as a preference for low-stimulation environments.

For a closer look at how introverts interact differently with the world, I recommend this Huffington Post article, which has proved very popular on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in the past few months.

Bill Gates and other famous introverts

One just has to think of a couple of famous introverts such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, Vincent van Gogh, Queen Elizabeth II., Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Steve Wozniak, Mark Zuckerberg, Joanne K. Rowling, Claudia Schiffer, Joachim Löw, Angela Merkel, Michael Jackson, Steven Spielberg, or Emma Watson. Many introverts have had a profound influence on the world, and a lot of the products that we use and love today were in fact designed by introverts.

Are you an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert? According to the psychologist Jung, “there is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert”. This means every single one of us is situated somewhere between the extreme ends of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Take the quiz here and find out here (in English) or here (in German).

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