When an IT guy appears on a reality TV show, you learn a lot about life

When Greg Dukelow and his wife volunteered to be on House Hunters International, it made for mesmerizing television.

They call it comfort TV.

The sort of TV that tells the same story over and over again, but it makes you feel good in your innards.

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A confession. My wife and I watch House Hunters International with a sad zeal.

Should you have not succumbed to this joy, it features people moving countries and -- allegedly -- choosing between three homes in their new chosen city.

The point of the show, though, is to guess which home will be chosen. The reason we watch is, naturally, to judge the people doing the choosing.

A recent episode featured software consultant Greg Dukelow and his wife Meg Sitterson. They were moving from St. Petersburg, Florida to Melbourne, not Florida. (The one in Australia, in fact.)

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They're an interesting pair. He keeps his beard neat and his hair in a ponytail. She wears tie dye. All the time.


Greg Dukelow, ready for adventure. Maybe.

House Hunters International/screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNet

Sitterson was a Navy brat who lived in many places. Dukelow, on the other hand, well, as he said on the show: "I've left America only for work."

Yet Sitterson's stories of life in other parts have moved him to take an irrational leap.

So, here we were presented with a classic trope: The IT guy and the real human being, seeing if they could come to an agreement.

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Greg and Meg met in a bar where, as Sitterson described, all people could say was: "Oh, you rhyme. That's so cute."

Yet, as their Australian realtor Greg Coutinho said: "Their names rhyme. The rest of it, they're on different pages."

Somehow, that seemed like a beautiful metaphor for the modern world. Those who design the software upon which we all depend aren't so understanding of what people want and how they live.

They create software that suits a system, not necessarily actual human life. They want human life to bend to the software, not the other way around.

They're winning, too.

Yet the touching reality of this reality show is that Dukelow freely admitted that when it comes to adventuring into the real world, he's a touch clueless.

Yes, just like Mark Zuckerberg.

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Dukelow says that without Sitterson, he'd be "socially lost." Which, the churlish might mutter, accurately describes too many of those responsible for the software that binds us.

As they wandered around the three properties, you had to wonder whether the producers even bothered to write them a storyline. (It happens in reality TV, you know.)

Dukelow only cared about money and the need for a simple, clean space. Of one dull abode, he said, admiringly: "It's right on budget. It's modern. It's got plenty of space."

Sitterson, on the other hand, wanted something that lifts the soul, something she can feel, not merely admire.

The only place that does that for her is a converted church.

"It's a bit old-looking," says Dukelow, disparagingly. She looks at him as if he's a touch bonkers.

"The brick makes it look like an old warehouse," he complains. And there I was thinking so many startups are housed in old warehouses. He also thinks it has a "prison feel."

Coutinho gets exasperated with the couple. He buys Sitterson flowers. He hands Dukelow a nicely wrapped gift. It's a brick.

May I offer a spoiler? Sitterson talks him into the church, even though it's over budget.

Ultimately, Dukelow seems to realize that she knows a little more about life than he does. So he agrees to live with bricks and stained glass windows, principally because upstairs there are white walls and a brown carpet.

"The bricks are blending in," he says.

Both are, in their own ways, lovely people. The software developer, though, is sunken in his own head. The real human being wants to be inspired and uplifted.

Somehow, software designers -- just like Dukelow -- need to move away from living and breathing their own systems and toward satisfying real human spirits.

Perhaps they find that a daunting task. There's a certain safety in the predictable and the controllable.

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Yet, as Facebook, Twitter, and others have discovered, the irrationality of humans can be so powerful that software needs to adjust to it, rather than the other way around.

Dukelow offers his own learning, one that tech types might wish to absorb: "Life in Melbourne isn't as scary as I thought it would be."

Ya don't say.

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