this will only further prove the point

21Apr08

Scott Brown at Wired wrote a fun column about how “we’re all nerds now.” [It’s not online yet.] Being a lifelong nerd (son of TWO librarians, yo) I immediately wondered if this was truly accurate. Yes, the whole “geek chic” thing is in full effect, but it’s rare that you see the terms “nerd,” “geek,” and — let’s not forget — “dork” applied with any real rigor.

I took this test and was labeled a nerd. True enough, but I disagree with their definitions. I’d say:

  • a nerd is interested in knowledge/data/information for its own sake, and in how various sets of data are ordered/structured. Whether the information is applicable in any practical way is beside the point. (Librarians, Trivial Pursuit champs, scientists, critics)
  • a geek is interested in knowledge/data/information that can be applied to things in the real world, and especially how it might be applied outside the bounds of normal rules, or in scenarios for which it was not intended. (Hackers, some entrepreneurs, engineers, master craftspeople)
  • a dork is interested in “knowledge” about made-up, alternate or inaccessible worlds–because a dork is on some level uninterested in (or uncomfortable with) the real world. (Middle Earth linguists, steampunk enthusiasts, fanfic writers, comic book store owners)

Of course they all overlap now more than ever, but people will generally be more of one than the other two. E.g.: Errol Morris, nerd; James Cameron, geek; Steven Spielberg, dork.



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