I have, from time to time, been called a geek. [Surely not? – Ed] It’s one of those things that is liable to happen. And it happens because I am one. Sometimes I even go so far as to refer to myself as a geek. Recently, however, I have started to question this practice. I know what I mean when I say it, but do they?
Some people in the general public seem to think that the words geek and nerd are interchangeable but they aren’t. At least not to me. To me, a geek is the kind of person who likes to take things apart to see how they work, the kind of person who builds something just to see if they can. But the nerd is quite different. The nerd is the completist, the train spotter, the one who isn’t happy until they have all of something.
Now I will admit to certain nerdish tendencies, but it isn’t my driving force. Instead I tend to get a bit bored of completing sets. I want to be off exploring the next new exciting thing. And doing that is pure geek.
A geek story from my history is that I really wanted to start a blog, but I didn’t really know what one was. But I didn’t research it. I didn’t sit down and studiously figure out the best way of creating one. I simply wrote a bit of software that did it for me. It was terrible, but it worked. And I loved doing it. Then a reader told me that what I was doing was a blog, so I looked up the word on google and found blogger. You can still see on this site, in the older archive, the pre blogger site.
A nerd story from work is from a colleague. She is in charge of accounts and she is very precise and needs everything ordered. She is like that not just in her job where she has to be, but also at home, where she keeps a four-year forcast of her and her husband’s finances. She has different tabs on her spreadsheet for birthday presents and Christmas presents. It’s all budgeted for. It makes her feel better to know that everything has a place and everything an order.
I’m not saying that one is better than the other, I’m just saying that it’s important to know the difference.
So are you a geek or a nerd?