The gadget tribes of technology


Technology was once about big things, but smallness rules the day: we are the gear that gets us through it. Augmented and assisted by the gizmos we buy, break and make, we're taking tech culture out of the tubes. How to spot a species? Look inside the gadget bag!

Claim solidarity with your stereotype in the comments and send us evidence of any undiscovered tribes (email: rob o' we'll be sure to forward it on to the Internet Anthropogogical Society for near-immediate updates.









Old Pro







Submitted by Orn310. Thank you!

(Artists! Download a pixel mannequin for your submissions) "Rotten Apples" is based on Anti-Apple, by Dissident.

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at  
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72 Responses to The gadget tribes of technology

  1. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    General Technics:

    – Someone else’s microwave oven.

    – Folding multi-tool.

    – Scratch-built monitoring and control device.

    – Tank of liquid nitrogen.

  2. Oyo says:

    I’m got a MacBook, a dual screen DIY Windows XP workstation, a Windows Smartphone I use for mobile email / blog reading / PDA purposes and a bunch of digital audio stuff I use to create and record music on both computers. I think you left my tribe out, unless I’m considered “kawaii”. I do have some stickers on my Mac but they aren’t anime/manga/kawaii related… (but seeing all that makes me think maybe I need a few)

    Any ideas what my tribe could be named?

  3. SeanReichle says:

    This is just awesome. What a great creation of abstract stereo types based on minority realities as we attempt to convey how we are so easily shaped by what is conveyed by people we don’t even know.

  4. BCJ says:

    First and foremost, holy crap is this awesome. I am awed by your brilliance.

    I know I’m late to the game, but a couple more suggestions (in part because I don’t think there’s one that sums me up well yet):

    ‘tuber (I somehow feel the need to mention this is not me):
    -Dadputer (I finally have a name for basic desktops, thanks)
    -Flip (or one of those similar youtube friendly video cameras)

    College kid:
    -Macbook (or $500 laptop [bought at Best Buy], those seem to be the only two choices)
    -Samsung Alias, or LG rumour, some other text-friendly phone

    -Record Player
    -Computer with 1TB hard drive
    -large capacity MP3 player
    -Buddha Machine (pretty much my favorite possession).
    -Big-ass headphones

    Consumer whore (aka bcj [aka way too specific to be useful]):
    -Space Odessey Desktop (big black monolith)
    -Unibody Macbook
    -XPS 1330
    -Large Capacity iPod
    -5G iPod (60GB)
    -Sony K790a

  5. boxlightbox says:

    I second the call for:


    2 Macbook Pros

    Lacie RAID array / Way too many Lacie HD’s

    Any nikon/canon DSLR

    I’ll make you up a pixel man pronto.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gotta say that adding a vehicle into the mix would make this even more interesting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tos the iphones, mac books, and imacs out. Replace with Acer Laptop, Asus 701, Helio Ocean, and Zune 80 and you have my tribe. The Anti Apples.

  8. Zarniwoop says:

    Another one:

    The Backpacker

    Battered old laptop

    Battered old Point-and-shoot

    Battered old Nokia

  9. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Hmmm…. I guess I’m closest to the “computerless geek” except I don’t carry any media.

    My personal tech is a ruggedized analog pocket-watch for everyday, vintage mickey-mouse wrist watch for dress occasions. Oh, and a leatherman, one of the old slim ones.

  10. Rob Beschizza says:

    Simplicity is a lady

  11. Anonymous says:

    I think you forgot one.
    The Power User, one who customizes every program to have a zen like experience, of which is focused on efficiency and getting things done…but maybe not.
    Good job by the way, the images are thoroughly amusing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Bwahahaha, awesome!
    I’m a biotechie – is that a Rainin LTS pipette I see? They make electronic repeating ones that are even more gadget-fetishistic.
    I do flow, but it’s a big shared resource… maybe a Nanodrop spectrophotometer is more appropriate? It’s new, sleek and magical, other labs covet it… for DNA work, it’s like going from an 8-track to an iPod.
    I also have a post-it note holder. Mine even does email and excel… eventually.

    I’m actually a NUX out of the lab. I have a ToOP and I love it so. I’d get a G1 but its firmware is still locked down and it uses a proprietary headphone jack.

  13. TheOceaneer says:

    @27: No way! I am horribly disorganized (no Blackberry), but my PC is scrupulously clean, virus-free, and maintained! I am not a dadputer! I’m just a…computer hobo.

  14. boxlightbox says:

    @ Jo:

    Maybe I read the pixels wrong but I thought Simplicity was a lady too.

  15. kathleen17 says:

    Gal/guy Friday: Macbook Pro, paper notebook with coffee stains, Wacom tablet. I also have the contract cell phone (free or nearly free) and a digital camera.

  16. NorrinRazael says:

    The technology packrat?

    -Typewriter (1 desktop, 1 portable)

    -Record player

    -Terabyte external hard drive

    In other words, the chained-to-his-desk music journalism major that may never buy a portable music player. Another way to put it: the gadgets actually in the “gadget” bag (at this point just a purse): magnum sharpie, masking tape, two books at all times.

  17. Julian Bond says:

    – Dell laptop (have to work)
    – eeePC 900 (for motorcycle trips) Dual boots Xandros and XP
    – Cheap Nokia on PAYG (talk? to real people? on a phone? You’re kidding, right?)
    – 160Gb iPod (addicted to new musics)

    I seem to be in a tribe of one. Again.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m probably somewhere between blogger and simplicity, I’ve got a dumbphone, a netbook, and a Zune v2.

  19. shanealeslie says:

    At Work one G5 and one Power PC DVD Authoring Station,XP Number Cruncher, 2 NT Encoders

    At Home I use Dual Monitor Self built Frankenputer made of off the shelf parts running Ubuntu and XP
    Palm M505
    Refuses to own a cell phone…

    Electric bike.

    I have no #$@%#@ing clue.

  20. pork musket says:

    Electric bike, no cell phone, and a Palm m505? You’re a luddite in denial :)

  21. Halloween Jack says:

    Your stereotypes can’t contain me, Mr. Man!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I have an older desktop made of various parts set up as a server using windows 2003 + a Macbook pro for photo and video editing and for using Dreamweaver + HP Mini-Note for general use and downloading illegal software (Dual boot Linux and XP)+ Android G1 Cause I love Android! (Plus I have some stickers on my old desktop and I carry around a moleskin Notebook) I also have an auto feeder for my dog and a retractable leash and I give pirated software and movies to my friends all the time. I am being honest about all of these things so what the hell does that make me? I had to post and laugh because close to 90% of those things applied to me!

  23. hedgy says:

    Surely, Old Pro = SE/30 + iPhone + black turtleneck?

    BTW Art Kid needs to do his flies up.

  24. technogeek says:

    Hm. Nux comes closest. I’m not sure three sampling points is enough to define the space, though.

  25. Anonymous says:

    i am way the hell too amused by the word “dadputer”. thank you mr. beschizza, you are my awesome of the day.

  26. dssstrkl says:

    Guess I’m closest to blogger?

  27. Tuesdae says:

    Oh, man. This is awesome. First trip to the site, and I get linked to this page. Unfortunatly, I feel like some sort of 80 year old spinster trapped in a 19 year old body…I didn’t relate to most of these. Until I got to Rotten Apples. I am so pegged! Except I don’t really care about windows 7. I just hate macs. And I have a zune. I have only interacted with three macs in my life (a really old one that wasn’t even color, it was pretty cool, an original iMac plastic hunk-O-crap, and sum uber-sleek contraption in my digital photo class at community college) and would get so frustrated by not knowing how to use it, I gave up. Then again, I hate Vista for similar reasons.

    Anyway, this is pretty awesome, thanks for the laughs!

  28. owza says:

    xdmag agreed,

    Tower from parts running XP, netbook XP, Nokia N82

  29. Paxxil says:

    So I have:

    An older desktop made up of random parts setup with Windows Server 2003 (Also has stickers on it)

    A Macbook Pro for Photo + Video Editing and Dreamweaver

    An HP Mininote Dual boot Linux and XP for General Use

    I have a FiOS

    I have an Android G1 Because I like Android

    I have an old Dell Laptop currently retired

    I routinely give friends and family pirated software and movies

    I carry a Moleskin Notebook since nothing beats pen and paper for taking notes anywhere

    My Dog has an auto feeder and retractable leash

    Throw in an XBox360 and a Nintendo DS for gaming as well

    What the hell does that make me?

    I had to laugh because 90% of those thing applied to me.

  30. Anonymous says:

    While you all compare yourself to the sterotypes and dont fit it seems obvious that individuals can be more than one sterotype and possibly a mix of all for example pirate and nux or pirate and apple fanboy and lets be honest we all have a bit of dadputer in us!!

  31. orn310 says:

    Well… I would be the Computerless student geek:
    Portable hard Drive
    Cellphone that came with plan
    Bunch of broken computer parts
    Binder, with notes
    tons of “Technical manuals”
    Portable apps
    1 copy of a linux live cd (Ubuntu)
    1 Terry Pratchett book, or one like it
    and plenty of access to other people’s computers…
    man it Sucks… and rocks at the same time…

  32. Rob Beschizza says:

    “I’m not sure three sampling points is enough to define the space, though.”

    And any Nux that thought otherwise would not be worth his bash prompt!

  33. Javier Candeira says:

    The Nux is so me:

    – Desktop: FrankenShuttle built of parts from 5 suppliers, running Debian Unstable, Ubuntu LTS and Windows XP for gaming.
    – Laptop: Toshiba m200 tabletpc running Ubuntu. I like this machine so much that when my older one broke I went on a round of Cash Converters till I found one just like it.
    – Phone: Treo 650, because if it ain’t broken, I don’t really need a new toy.

    However, this post gives the warm fuzzies. I belong!

  34. stuiethegod says:

    Hrm… It seems like I would have to fall somewhere between Simplicity and Media Pirate. What your missing is the Circuthead:

    -soldering iorn
    -a copy of Handmade Electronic music
    -a knotted mess of alligator clips

    That’s more my style.

  35. teuthis says:

    I have a nice 4 pound laptop of quality build, and this:

    oh, and a crappy free with contract phone.

  36. Anonymous says:

    For the scientist, how about a high end desktop, with a big (at least 24″) display hooked up to a live cell imaging microscope (Zeiss anyone?). Keep the pipette & post it note holder.

    PCR machines are a dime a dozen now. And flow cytometers are not really that cool


  37. gbray1 says:

    Hmmm. Not sure where I fit in.

    – Home – Frankenputer built w/ spare parts still running Windows 2K. Everything runs fine so why pay to upgrade?
    – Laptop – HP 6910p
    – Treo 680 – can’t do Icrap b/c it doesn’t even support blue tooth stereo, Quicken, MMS, etc. Waiting for and dreaming of the Pre!

  38. Zarniwoop says:

    Okay, this is really awesome. Perhaps these pixelated characters could be added to the NEW BOINGBOING LAPTOP STICKER SET you guys will be selling soon? NUDGENUDGEWINKWINK :p

    I’d like to suggest one you may have missed:

    The Photographer

    – Mac Pro/ Equally kitted-out pc

    – Dell mini 9 netbook (as inspired from here:

    – Any Canon or Nikon DSLR

  39. celia says:

    Your simplicity “basic” laptop is a netbook. Cheaters!

  40. celia says:

    I thought simplicity has a beard, so I was assuming another guy.

    I also suggest a size does(n’t) matter collection: Dell Mini, Acer EEetc box, and the phone from Zoolander.

  41. gwax says:

    I can think of two that you missed:
    * The media pirate
    * The Nux with state of the art gear

  42. dodi says:

    Simplicity, but with a Macbook Pro and a serious yen for a netbook, just because.

  43. Anonymous says:

    What about a musician tribe?
    – Macbook running Reason and Logic
    – Midi keyboard and midi trigger pad.
    – Technics 1200 turntables with Serrato scratch or Ableton live
    – Digital camera for taking promo shots at gigs

  44. Anonymous says:

    what am I?

    Work provided Dell notebook and blackberry 8830. A new aluminum macbook, asus Eee pc, and iphone for home. also an older hp notebook lying around mainly used for storing music.

  45. rstevens says:

    Similar to the blogger, you have:




    +1,000 Sharpies

  46. maxtheusher says:

    Well apparently a blogger, though I am thoroughly befuddled over this as I have never actually blogged. Apparently I should have been putting the proverbial pen to the figurative paper for some time now.


  47. Andrew Crowe says:

    I don’t know what I am…

    + old Macbook Pro running Tiger
    + iPhone
    + banjo-ukulele

  48. dculberson says:

    What about gadget hound?

    I’m close to Simplicity as far as daily use computers go except then I have the dusty old Optiplex (the exact dadputer model) running Ubuntu for media service, a PS3 upstairs, xBox 360 in the basement, and various scads of pieces and parts here and there. I even still have an iOpener hacked to run Linux and Win98 somewhere.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Ok how about Self-built desktop running XP, Ibook, Jornada 728, Ipod touch and Nokia E62 without internet plan?

  50. Rob Beschizza says:

    Thanks for the many FANTASTIC submissions. I’ve added a few and shall do more.

    Yeah, I need to add something for the digital musicians and camera buffs.

  51. eustace says:

    What tribe are you if you have Rice Burner, Old Thinkpad, and Palm (no phone)?

  52. kerry says:

    I hereby suggest “the Crumpler,” with a laptop, a camera, a bike and a crumpler bag. You can even use their logo for the illustration:

    Also, @Zarniwoop: That netbook-in-the-camera-bag idea is fantastic, makes me actually consider getting a netbook now.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Okay you’ve got the iFan but what about the Media Maven with his Server, his HTPC of new parts, and his portable media player? Or the Tech journalist, with PC and Macbook, 12 different netbooks and Iphone and real cellphone. Don’t forget the PC holdout(Aka average joe-puter), with big box store XP machince, dell laptop and razr.

  54. SpotWeld says:

    Possible additional tribe,

    Ruggedized Laptop
    Ipod Shuffle
    Letter from home (snail mail)

  55. TJ S says:


    Just when I thought I was done slacking at work (just created the “Locked In”), now I’ve got to go and make a pirate.

    Oh well… :)

  56. ab5tract says:

    Wow only one brownish dude and he doesn’t even get a computer…

  57. stallionz says:

    Racist A-hole!

  58. zoink says:

    I guess there’s no denying it: I’m an iCheap.

    – iBook G4
    – Mac Mini G4
    – iPod Nano, won in a drawing
    – 12 year-old PowerBase 180 (that’s megahertz) for scanning things with my SCSI scanner
    – Friend’s free with plan phone bought for $20 when he got an iPhone so I could stay off contract

    vs. Work (e.g not my dime):
    – New Mac Pro w/ big dual monitors

  59. Jo says:

    Oh, fabulous! Thank you for reminding me that all knowledgeable gadget owners are men! (With a loophole for cute polychromatimanic pigtail-sporting chicks who dig self-adhesive branding.)

    I’d forgotten! I guess I can Ebay my MacBook, my Samsung FlipShot, my iPod Touch, and my Sony MDR-D77s! I could buy a dress, or something!

  60. Rob Beschizza says:

    I’ve been waiting all day for someone to accuse me of that. It is a very white lineup!

  61. Anonymous says:


  62. xdmag says:

    Is it just me, or is Apple vastly over-represented here?

    (Mine: self-built power desktop running XP+Ubuntu, no portable computer of any sort, and a Sony Ericsson K530)

  63. Gabey8 says:

    I have to agree with the observation that the original list is a tad skewed toward Apple products. Still, the concept is clever and I have a couple of suggestions for as-yet-undescribed tribes.

    The Budgeteer

    Refurb laptop (in my case a Toshiba Tecra), refurb netbook (Eee 701), and a non-refurb miniscule budget Linux netbook that’s the main focus of

    Or the Moblogger:

    Lightweight Netbooks (the above two plus an OLPC XO-1), Celio Redfly, Windows Mobile smartphone for wireless broadband connectivity for any/all of the above devices, Battery pack (Tekkeon Mypowerall) to keep ‘em all running when no power outlet is available.

  64. Trev says:

    I was looking at each one, laughing smugly at each new image…till I got to the last one and realized it had me pegged down to a T.

  65. TheOceaneer says:

    Hmm…I’m not an exact match. I have a six year old Dell that needs a new hard drive, random scraps of paper with notes scribbled on them, and a land line. So…Luddite? Or maybe just married.

  66. evohollywood says:

    I think there should be one for the 20-something professional who has a company provided Dell laptop for work, a Macbook for home, and a iPhone to bridge the gap between the two.


  67. ulotrichous says:

    Crap, I am totally pegged. Old Pro all the way. The only thing is that the old pro should be wearing a sportcoat over his tshirt, as most of us have upgraded to management. I’m glad they didn’t add cars as every old pro I know drives a VW….

  68. mdh says:

    Oceaneer – that makes you dadputer, the AOL @ home edition.

    I’m a blogger. MacMini, paper notebook (with a graphite stylus!), and an iTouch.

    My phone is provider provided, but that’s only because I don’t want my iTouch to ring.

  69. kerry says:

    I guess I’m more Biotechie than anything else, since there’s no category for “basic laptop + iphone + camera,” and I have a bunch of PCR to do this afternoon at work. My lab coat, however, is blue. And I haven’t done flow in, like, forever. So I’m not cool anymore?

  70. therevengor says:

    Wow, I’m the Mac version of DADPUTER. Does that make me COOLUNCLEPUTER?

  71. Anonymous says:

    where is at haxor?

  72. Lupus_Yonderboy says:

    OK-“Tower Of Odd Parts”-Check. Nux, right? Hell, it’s running a couple of different flavors of *nix…
    iFan? Oh, hells noes.
    Netbook (that the OS changes on about a weekly basis on)
    Barebones/Whitebook notebook (also running *nix)
    Old tablet that I’m hacking into a kitchen media computer?
    Where do I land? Who’s my peoples?

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