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Photo taken from deck of Warren's home.

Geeks and Nerds

A while ago, a friend introduced me to someone else and noted about me: “He’s a Mac nerd.” Naturally, I corrected him. It’s a common enough mistake — confusing geeks and nerds. This mistake is up there with not understanding the difference between “infer” and “imply.” So let me explain.

Geekiness is knowledge-based, nerdiness is lifestyle-based. When that big electronics retailer sends out someone to install your new high-tech purchase, do they send the Nerd Squad? Of course not. 

A geek is someone who is very knowledgeable in some area. A nerd is just really “into” it. Let me give you some examples.

A Star Trek geek knows every episode of the original series and each subsequent series based on the original.  A Star Trek nerd has a Star Fleet uniform and a set of Spock ears.

A Star Trek geek can name each Star Trek movie and knows who’s starring in the one that’s still in production. He understands the Star Date calendar. A Star Trek nerd made his own phaser, communicator  and tricorder and says “Beam me up, Scotty” whenever he can work it in. He speaks Klingon when among his Trekkie friends. 

A Harry Potter geek has read every Harry Potter book, seen every movie, has an exhaustive knowledge of each character and his “back-story” and knows J.K. Rowling’s email address. The nerd has Harry Potter glasses and a collection of wands from assorted Harry Potter characters, each in its own polished presentation case. The geek will wait in line for hours to get into the opening of the latest film, while the nerd will wait in line for hours to get into the opening of the latest film — in a Dumbledore costume. 

So, am I a Mac geek? Absolutely. I’ve owned and used Mac computers since 1984. I service and repair them and I’m the local “go-to” guy for anyone with a Mac problem. But am I a Mac nerd? I don’t even know what I could do to attain such status — dress up like Steve Jobs? 

So let me sum up. Geek: knowledge-based. Nerd: lifestyle based. Oh, and another common mistake: That guy with the pocket protector containing 14 different color pens and pencils… the guy with the white tape holding his glasses together on the bridge of his nose? A lot of people think that’s a nerd. It isn’t. That’s a dork.

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