Dailey, '03, is featured in Jon Katz's
Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho (Villard
Books, 2000), in which Katz explores how so-called geeks can
harness technology to change the course of their lives.
Dailey, whom Katz met online, used the Internet to leave
small-town life for the city of Chicago and a job in information
systems. His journey ultimately led him to the College and to
a deep friendship with Katz, who chronicled his path through
application to admission. The Magazine caught up with Dailey
What was it like to become the subject of a bestseller?
It has been incredibly influential in the last
several years of my life, and it probably has more to do with
my relationship to the author than it does to the number of
books sold. Publicity is a little weird at first, but you learn
it like anything else.
How have your classmates or professors reacted?
I don't think any of my professors know. I don't
talk about it much, so not many of my classmates realize that
the book is out and is actually about me. For the most part,
my friends think I should be more excited than I am about the
book. They get all fired up for me.
There's this 10-second glimmer of celebrity in their eye, and
then they put things into perspective and see it more for what
it is. It's a telling of events, and the events themselves are
what is important, much more so than the telling-although I
am sure Jon would argue this.
How do you like the University of Chicago?
I love it. It was the perfect pick for me as
a school. The academics are at the right level of challenge,
I've met a lot of awesome people, and it sure is in the right
What were your greatest challenges in making the transition
from full-time work to being a College student?
The biggest transition is purely moving from
one age group to another. Working in the Loop (I started as
a PC technician at National Futures Association, and after a
few months they promoted me to a job as a network programmer)
provided an excellent way to make money. But I was 19, and the
youngest guy near me at work was nine years older and well into
a master's degree. So in going back to school I moved from an
age group of people that were between nine and 29 years older
than I to a group that was within a year or two of the same
It felt like being a kid again. All of a sudden I was out of
this adult world and back into this weirdly immature first year
of college kind of place. Lots of fun, and a chance to live
in the 19-year-old world-something I had missed by going to
work so soon.
As a second-year in the College, have you decided on a concentration
No, though I lean toward and away from computer
science on alternating days. On the one hand, it's the homework
I enjoy; it's the classes and the study that I enjoy. But on
the other hand, I have this very strong urge to push in some
new direction, to do something different with this unique opportunity.
So, the short answer-no, no concentration yet.
Looking back on your first year, did college life meet your
One of my policies for planning a new adventure
is not to have too many expectations. But no matter how hard
you try, you always have a few. I expected to have a harder
time academically, but didn't. I hoped to find a pretty girl
who digs geeks, and did. :)
The book reveals you through the author's eyes. How do you
The answer is clearly way more than I could
ever write down. But I might be able to pin down some changes.
I think I let a social part of myself grow up a little bit more.
Thrown in with lots of other people, it can't help but come
out anyway. Because of some classes, and the general environment
change, I think a more artistic part is getting to grow as well.