Michael Lopp is a veteran of Apple, Netscape, Borland and Symantec. He explores the class of people who span both Generation X and Y and that he calls “The Geeks” – a group that has spent the last two decades moving amongst the dark technological fringe and is now a mainstream demographic.
Michael contends that he’s indeed a nerd, possibly a geek but definitely not a dork. He’s proceeded to regale us with some nerd/geek ethnography. The word nerd comes from a book by Dr Suess (all cred to Wikipedia) but was popularised by The Happy Days (yes Fonzi et al). Geek however is a circus performer who bites heads off live animals (sounds a little like the business roundtable?), while a dork is common parlance for a w$@#ker.
Michael thoughtfully provided a definitive comparison chart between these three descriptors;
|Chief Cell-Phone Concern||Does it have BlueTooth?||Does it play games?||Who would I call?|
|Mantra||Can we fix it? Yes we can!||The meek shall inherit the earth||Where’s the remote?|
|Dream Job(s)||Nasa/ILM/Google||Wizards of the Coast/Marvel Comics||‘American Idol’ Archivist|
|Uniform||Jeans and Ironic T||Penny loafers and Acne||Whatever Mom wants|
|Starter Apartment Furniture||Computer Desk||Kitchen Table for D&D||Starter Apartment?|
|Favorite Sport||Robot Wars||Captain Kirk Drinking Game||Handheld video poker|
|Playlists||Knight Rider/A-Team Mashups||Lord of the Rings/Star Wars Soundtracks||139.5 ‘Best Hits of Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond!!!’|
|Favorite Childhood Toy||Legos||Superhero
|Boner Worthy||API Documentation||Babylon 5 Marathon||Bra section in the JCPenny Catalogue|
The label however is not important – what matters is the personality. Nerds have the ability to deep dive into details – Michael gave the example of the regular email he gets about his personal site detailing the multiple detailed standard web XHTML errors it displays.
There are three clichés about nerds and geeks;
- Nerds are good with computers, they’re system thinkers, they love rules
- Nerds are obsessive/detail orientated – they’re context switchers not multitaskers
- Nerds are socially inept