geek vs. nerd

taken from here:

“Moving up the vertical axis, words become more geeky (‘#music’ → ‘#gadget’ → ‘#cosplay’), and moving left to right they become more nerdy (‘education’ → ‘grammar’ → ‘neuroscience’). Words along the diagonal are similarly geeky and nerdy, including social (‘#awkward’, ‘weirdo’), mainstream tech (‘#computers’, ‘#microsoft’), and sci-fi/fantasy terms (‘doctorwho,’ ‘#thehobbit’). Words in the lower-left (‘chores,’ ‘vegetables,’ ‘boobies’) aren’t really associated with either, while those in the upper-right (‘#avengers’, ‘#gamer’, ‘#glasses’) are strongly tied to both. Orange words are more geeky than nerdy, and blue words are the opposite.”

these are all based on tweets:

geek vs. nerd

i went ahead and circled (very unscientifically) all the words that i “identify” with — in other words, the topics/words that i believe that i think about/use frequently. seems like i’m slightly more of a nerd, but am also pretty geeky. i can live with that. (^_^)

geek vs. nerd - me

(note: comments do not require an email. oh…maybe i’m a dork.)

20 Comments

  1. Nerd here. Everything blue.

    In the original article, on “clever new ways of applying Dijkstra’s algorithm” I had to ask which algorithm? His permutation algorithm? (not found in Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming). I used it to solve the n-Queen problem, which I think at the time was an original solution or anyway not in ANY undergrad textbook. His shortest path algorithm? I used it in an ACM programming competition to find the shortest path through a dictionary from one word to another, where one is only allowed to change one letter at a time to get to the next word. Convex Hull? Dining Philosophers problem? Updating a sequential file?

    (Dijkstra, the ultimate nerd, walked his own weird shortest path through life. I knew a couple of guys who suffered under him. He refused to take any grad student whose first language was FORTRAN. On the other hand he had a Volkswagen bus he dubbed The Touring Machine, heheh).

    A useful distinction is made. I think Sheldon (you know who I mean), has too many geek characteristics for a theoretical physicist.

    Reply

  2. @charles – “In the original article, on “clever new ways of applying Dijkstra’s algorithm” I had to ask which algorithm? His permutation algorithm? (not found in Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming). I used it to solve the n-Queen problem, which I think at the time was an original solution or anyway not in ANY undergrad textbook. His shortest path algorithm? I used it in an ACM programming competition to find the shortest path through a dictionary from one word to another, where one is only allowed to change one letter at a time to get to the next word. Convex Hull? Dining Philosophers problem? Updating a sequential file?”

    holy cr*pes! – i bow to your vastly superior nerdiness. (^_^) i really do. as you can see, the most nerdiest of academic disciplines that i circled was biology (or, maybe, neuroscience), and i only have a hobby interest in those. (*^_^*)

    @charles – “I think Sheldon (you know who I mean), has too many geek characteristics for a theoretical physicist.”

    agreed. do theoretical physicists really hang out at comic book stores? or watch doctor who on saturday mornings? i could be wrong, but i somehow don’t think so.

    still, he’s one of the more fun tv characters out there. (^_^)

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  3. agreed. do theoretical physicists really hang out at comic book stores? or watch doctor who on saturday mornings?

    No – but there are plenty of guys who hand out at comic book stores and watch doctor who on saturday mornings – and those guys think of themselves as “very smart” to explain their social inadequacy.

    There is, of course, no basis for this belief.

    The market for fiction that flatters its consumers is limitless.

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  4. Upon closer examination of that chart I have concluded that on average nerds make more money and indeed come from a higher socioeconomic background to begin with than do geeks although anyone who tweets at all is by definition a loser.

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  5. @james – “‘Cosplay?’ I don’t know what that word means and I don’t even want to know.”

    i know what it means, but i don’t partake in the activity, so i didn’t circle it. i very much could’ve gone down that road, i think! — but for the quirks in my own personal history i just didn’t. would’ve “suited” me, though, in many ways i think (no pun intended!)! (^_^)

    @james – “…although anyone who tweets at all is by definition a loser.”

    oi! (~_^)

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  6. It’s interesting. In the past I’ve (possibly uncharitably) seen the geek vs nerd continuum as one that correlates primarily with intelligence. You have geeky people who obsess about this or that speculative fiction genre, comic books, and their iphones, but don’t quite have the brains to do calc or understand standard deviation or chemistry, etc. Where on the Nerd side you have the brilliant but completely socially unaware. When I look at the orange vs the blue above I see a lot of social signaling on the orange side, especially the kind that you can buy where the blue has social signaling that you can earn with your brain, i.e. degrees, qualifications, test scores, titles, prestigious diploma, etc.

    I personally have typically been labeled by others as a nerd due to my interest in science and my social reticence, however I don’t really identify with nerd culture possibly because I can actually conduct a casual conversation (though I do tend to loathe them) and have been known to act in a stage play now and then. Also: I just don’t get what people find so alluring about super heroes. I wonder if it’s simply misplaced religiosity, that instead of adoring Zeus or saint Francis, people adore Superman and his pantheon.

    ~S

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  7. Oh and a note to James about twitter: I hate it, but I absolutely must have a twitter account. Being an Artist/writer these days means self promotion plain and simple if I don’t do it far fewer discriminating eyeballs who make decisions will see my work.

    Reply

  8. The nerd dimension looks a bit like the cerebral factor in pop culture preferences found by psychologist Peter Rentfrow – interested in economy, science, computers etc. But this factor didn’t correlate to intelligence.

    This is very similar to MBTI sensation (geeky) and thought (nerdy). Interestingly, thought doesn’t correlate to intelligence either. But boths geeks and nerds tend to be introverted, and that correlates to IQ.

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  9. “Being an Artist/writer these days means self promotion plain and simple if I don’t do it far fewer discriminating eyeballs who make decisions will see my work.”

    Yes but how does posting to Twitter in anyway guarantee that you will be reaching “followers” who are agents, gallery owners, or editors/publishers? Also don’t most big-shots not even read the responses they get to their tweets let alone write those tweets themselves?

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  10. @Staffan: I’d thought that, in MBTI the NF/NT groups were generally a bit smarter and less numerous, I’d think that Jungian Intuition ought to be the price of admission to the above chart given its correlation to Openness to experience. As a 96th percentile Openness NF, I could be biased though. (read that as: I am probably biased)

    @James: Well, for one you can use twitter to query for people who are looking for work of one kind or another, so that’s one part of it, but more importantly for me having followers is considered part of having a ‘platform’ that writers and artists are supposed to have these days, which is something that agents and editors do definitely consider when they look at a project (or at least, they say they do). Don’t get me wrong, having a twitter account with lots of followers isn’t going to make my crap story or art project into gold, but I’m told it can push me over the edge if they are considering my project alongside someone else’s. I don’t do a lot on twitter actually, just chat about the process of writing, art I like, post my art. No whining about movies, no tweeting pictures of my lunch, no musing about TV shows. I am followed by several agents and many other artists and writers, I don’t need media big shots to see my work, just some lackeys would be fine: people whose job it is to find new artists or writers for whatever. If nothing else it keeps me motivated to get a little feedback on a piece from (my very few) fans and other working artists as I don’t exactly live in the center of the creative universe. So on the whole, I find it useful. But it’s not for everyone and that’s fine.

    ~S

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  11. @Sysiphean,

    “I’d thought that, in MBTI the NF/NT groups were generally a bit smarter and less numerous, I’d think that Jungian Intuition ought to be the price of admission to the above chart given its correlation to Openness to experience. As a 96th percentile Openness NF, I could be biased though. (read that as: I am probably biased)”

    The research I know of shows a correlation between introversion and intution and IQ. A lot of MBTI people do not think this is significant because they think of it as cognitive functions, but there are no measures of those, only the dichotomies.

    My impression is that INTJ is the purest nerd. Geeks tend to be sensors of some form – ISTJ, ISFJ, ISTP and ISFP. They collect stuff and are generally empirical and into things like biology and history.

    (I’ve never taken the Big Five. I’m INFP according to the test in Lenore Thomson’s book and most online tests.)

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  12. @Staffan The binary nature of the MBTI has to be one of its greatest flaws in my mind. As a person in the 99 percentile for Intuition, I am very different from another person in the 51st percentile. My whole world revolves around wild ideas whereas the other person is relatively comfortable maybe chatting about them for a little bit, but they will tire of me VERY quickly. My other major gripe with MBTI has got to be the lack of a measure of neuroticism/anxiety. This is a hugely useful dimension in the big five. I too am an INFP, and so is HBD chick I believe, but the fact that her OCEAN score has higher than avg neuroticism where mine is almost nil (maybe 4th percentile), means we are likely very different people in day to day life, despite obviously having some of the same interests (e.g. here I am at her blog.)

    I managed to get my hands on an MPPI 2 recently and that was fun but relatively useless for anyone who isn’t impaired. I like the idea of continuum of personality dimension but I also like the idea of broad (and flexible) categories where like minded people can be grouped together. Maybe this approach is just wrong and what feels right to me intuitively is actually me forcing people into what makes sense to me. I may never know.

    ~S

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  13. @sisyphean – “Oh and a note to James about twitter: I hate it, but I absolutely must have a twitter account.”

    i enjoy twitter! it’s a great way to get references to interesting/new things to read. (^_^)

    facebook, otoh. could never get into that.

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  14. @sisyphean – “I too am an INFP, and so is HBD chick I believe, but the fact that her OCEAN score has higher than avg neuroticism where mine is almost nil (maybe 4th percentile), means we are likely very different people in day to day life, despite obviously having some of the same interests (e.g. here I am at her blog.)”

    my neuroticism makes me a worrier (probably not a big surprise) — you’ll NEVER see me parachute out of an airplane, for instance, ’cause waaaay too many things could go wrong! (~_^) i might jump if the plane was crashing, but i’d no doubt have quite a few misgivings.

    the neuroticism also makes me dwell on things a lot. too much. like woody allen’s characters. (it can be very annoying, let me tell you.)

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  15. @Sisyphean
    The MBTI could, and should, be transformed to a dimensional model. It needs reform in other ways too. Still, Jung’s original theory makes sense to me.

    But neuroticism, I don’t know. I think there should be a factor named romanticism. I feel strongly about things and so I worry about some things – but that’s just the downside.

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  16. Why does it say “autistic”? These words seem very stereotypical and offered me zero insight to where I stand in the Nerd v. Geek relationship. Why is the geek side just hipsters? Newsflash, genuine geek does not equal hipster. Hipsters are just pretending to be geeks while sipping on their Starbucks tweeting about how “#nerdy” they are. This chart has words such as “#fashion” and “cellist”. These further the long-suffered stereotypes that people that play certain instruments are automatically nerds, or that nerds can’t have a sense of fashion. We, the nerd/geek community, should be offended by the utter lack of understanding shown while making this chart. There is definitely a difference between nerds and geeks, but it should not be determined by hashtags and stereotypes. We are the only ones who can determine which side we are on. A geek can play the cello, and a nerd can have a sense of fashion. A nerd can like Doctor Who and still identify as a nerd, while a geek can play chess and identify as a geek.

    Reply

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