Surely You’re Not Serious
Geek vs Nerd vs Dork

Considering that today is Embrace Your Geekness Day, what better time could there be for me to share my personal treatise on three oft confused terms.

Many people use these three terms interchangeably and, as someone who considers himself a geek, but not a nerd or dork, this is highly offensive. Allow me to expound.

Geek, nerd, and dork are titles that, while related, refer to different ends of a large spectrum. Yes, a spectrum! Like a rainbow of social ineptitude.

The Geek Graph

At the low end, you have the ineffectual dork. The dork has little or no social grace, making them uncomfortable company for even the shortest period of time. They have no concept of what normal people think is funny or even interesting. They tend to be loud and sometimes even rude. Many of them fail grasp basic grooming. (Your greasy mullet and mutton chops do not make you look like Wolverine. They make you look homeless.)

Dorks also have no marketable skills, making them useless to society. Notice I used “marketable.” Neither speaking fluent Klingon nor “pwning noobs” in Halo are “marketable.” (No one is going to call you up offering to pay you to pwn their noobs for them.)

If you move up the scale on the skills side, you will find the humble nerd. These poor souls toil in the background of our society, inventing and inovating, making our lives better, but never reaping the benefits. Even if the make a billion dollars, no one wants to come to their parties and hang out. (Reference Bill Gates!) These are the guys that multiple PhDs and are still taking night classes, not because they need to, but because they would rather spend Friday night doing homework that face the cruel social gauntlet of real life.

At the top of the spectrum you have the mighty geek. Thanks to the nerds of the past, on who’s shoulders we stand, geeks are able to master marketable skills and still have time to make friends, date and marry attractive women, and carry on successful lives away from the keyboard.

You’ll notice a conspicuous missing label from my graph. It is reserved for those of whom we geeks prefer not to speak. Those with no skills, but lots of schmooze. Out from this black hole of humanity crawl middle managers, politicians, sales and marketing. Necessary? Perhaps. Desirable? May it never be so.


  1. Ahh… yes there is an important difference. Glad you noticed. Only two points (I don’t have time to explain all your misunderstandings) One: there is a significant skill level requires to be a good schmooze. Two: Save this simple assessment and redress it in ten years or more. Walter

    Comment by Kenneth Ladd — 7/14/2009 @ 8:38 am

  2. ??? missing label??? It is often useful to limit the defined universe for purposes of detail discussion. You mention “black” and do not include black and white as colors. Then there are some technical individuals who will not include white or black as colors of light. so..geeks have a limited universe. that’s okay they do better that way. Dad

    Comment by Kenneth Ladd — 7/14/2009 @ 9:04 am

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