Monday 7 June 2010

Nerd Vs Geek a Taxonomy

Twas only last weekend when thwe Arch Bishopess of ITIL Ms Eileen Fitzgerald and her chums Clara and Máireád plodded 22 miles around the north coast of Northern Ireland. Many and various were the topics we covered in those miles. One of said topics was the great Geek Vs Nerd debate. Both Clara and Máireád mistakening thought that Eileen and I were nerds ... OH how we laughed at that one.

Eileen deffered to my age, experience and abilty to gesticulate in 6 languges only 2 of them human. When I had completed my explanation of the difference tween "The Nerd" and "The Geek" she implored me to write it down as the insights I managed to impart were largely unknown by the general population.

Firstly the Phyllology :

"Geek" is from the dutch "gek" which means Crazy, which indeed a lot of Geeks are.

"Nerd" is from Medieval Latinate "Nerdicticus" meaning spotty oik with a lot of different coloured quills

From a taxanomic point of view, Nerds are a sub species of Geek as you can see below

"Heavens to Betsy!" , I hear you cry "The scales are falling from eyes"

But caution and common sense must prevail for all is not as clear as it may seem in the world of pie charts and bar graphs. Teams of undercover antropologists from the University of Milton Keynes have , at great personal cost, spent the last 20 years inveagling themselves into the natural habitat of the Geek and Nerd.

A little known footnote on this work was noted in "What Do YOU think?" the UK trade journal of counsellors. The bill for helphing the researchers get through PISSED (Post iPad Sensory Stress Erecitle Disorder) could keep the average geek in coffee for 22 years!
Many years of work and peer reviewed sciency shit have shown that a geek is a person who has chosen concentration over conformity; one who pursues technical know how heavily spiced with imagination over mainstream social acceptance. Geeks usually have a strong case of neophilia, (they like new particulary shiney things)

Most male geeks are adept with computers but crap with washing machines and irons however the female geek is generally good with both. Most geeks can spell properly but chose not to, preferring the patois of the keyboard and the effusive melodrama of the emoticon.

A recent repeat of the classic 1987 experiement by Ross, McKenzie and Privett "Geekosity: flow charts and DTDs" proved once and for all the skewed nature of the Geek's ability to prioritise simple tasks.

Take 100 geeks an place in a hot, airless office with a difficult technical problem
Buy 100 iPads
After 10 hours let the geeks out and give them the following options
1. Have a shower and something to eat
2. Have an evening of gratuitious abandon with the partner of their choice
3. Play with the iPad

The results speak for themselves!

Nerds on the other hand, exhibit all of the above characteristics but have few extra phenotypic markers worthy of note. They keep their pens in a pocket proctector ordered alphabetically by colour. Levels of OCD are higher amongst the nerdish geeks, either compulsive tidiness offset by unreadable code or a complete tip of a work desk with really well laid out code is common. The soft very pale belly skin of both the female or male nerd will almost never have seen daylight and is reputed to be translucent. (The rarer ginger nerd's is both translucent and covered in freckles is a much sought after in the illegal skin graft black market)

Unlike their more socially adept Geek cousins, Nerds are inclined towards taciturnity everywhere but their Blogs, Facebook and Twitter streams. This lack of small talk builds up and up and up an up until at least once a year driven by an urge as old as time, Nerds and Geeks head for a "CON" This could be a TrekCon, a ComicCon or a User Group convocation. The little known Turing Gland swells as these functions approach and secretes a heady cocktail of endorphins, caffine and doughnuts directly into the blood stream. Like salmon the geeks and nerds will gather for a few days, perhaps a week and in a bachanialian orgy of excess expend all the pent up normality they have accrued through the previous months ... at the end of the "CON" period the Geeks and especially the Nerds will lie, gasping and spent on hotel recpetion sofas, easy prey for passing bears.

So the next time you pass a Geek or the more secretive Nerd, be nice to them .. they have had a hard life.

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