Friday, June 09, 2006


The official website for the Live-action Transformers movie.

My keyboard is now wet and sticky. That, my friends, is known as a geek-gasm.

I recently wrote an article for SPYDER Magazine about the difference between Geeks, Dorks and Nerds.

If you're too lazy to buy it here is the unedited article:



It's never easy conversing with a Geek.

Before elaborating on that statement, a few clarifications are needed. Geeks are not to be confused with Nerds or Dorks. Here is, for convenience sake, a breakdown of each:

Dorks: Someone who says stupid things or acts stupid. Dorks do not have to be skinny with spectacles, bad hair and a collection of hard-disks in their back-pack. A dork can be anyone. Can look like anyone. Their only distinguishing trait is excessive stupidity, often described as "dorkiness".

Nerds: These are your typical social outcasts. The products of a childhood full of beatings at the hands of larger boys (or girls), Nerds are noticeable in their ability to find solace in the study of one subject, usually science or math. Nerds are also, almost always, true to their stereotype; skinny, awkward hairstyle, unfortunate dress-sense and usually gigantic spectacles perched on a bird-like face. During the 1990's, Nerds enjoyed a brief period of celebrity. They have since returned to their caffeine and potato-chip infested dungeons where they create code and hack each others home pages.

Geek: All of the above and none of the above. Geeks are obsessive about a single topic, often science, but it can even be about an obscure aspect of pop-culture. They can, however look like anyone. Their social skills are not as damaged as a Dork's or a Nerd's, but they suffer from a sort of factoid-Tourette's Syndrome, spouting obscure nuggets of information at odd times. Geek's are categorized by their area of speciality, i.e. Comic Geek, Film Geek, Tech Geek, ad infinitum.

The explanation being sorted, it is time to return to the central thesis of this piece, that being that Geeks are difficult to have a conversation with. It should be noted that this isn't too say that Nerds and Dorks are easier to talk to. In fact, this piece is centered around geeks because trying to talk to a Nerd or a Dork is as futile as spitting in a hurricane, or tugging on Superman's cape (a Comic Geek would take this moment to point out that during the late 1990's it was actually impossible to tug on his cape as he was a being of electricity and therefore...see how it will get?).

Talking to a Nerd is useless unless you are fluent in either "L33t Speak" or "n00bish". Don't know what they are? Then when next cornered by a Nerd, shove and run. If, however, you are feeling adventurous, or are in a situation where pushing someone might not be socially acceptable, a crash-course in these languages (both are actually different names for the same language) can be provided on Wikipedia. Be warned however, the initial introduction alone reads like this:

"The mechanism began simply: taking standard text and corrupting it with a dynamic cipher, with only those privy to the cipher understanding what was being conveyed in the ciphertext. "

The alternative survival tack is to just talk about "World of Warcraft". Don't waste time wondering, just say you love MMORPG's and are a Druid Night Elf from Kalimdor. An opening line like this will send any Nerd leaping off the couch slapping his Dorito-stained forearms together with joy.

Talking to Dorks a not that much of a challenge, and is actually a fun spectator sport. Just ask their opinion on a matter, any matter, and then sit back and watch the bumbling and stumbling mess that dribbles from his/her lips completely envelope and befuddle. This can be dangerous though from time to time. Dorks are to be avoided at some social functions where the wrong thing being said can have disastrous consequences, ex. Funerals. They are generally not aware that "Crap happens and then it decomposes" is not an acceptable consolation.

Which brings us to Geeks. Not as easily avoidable because of their casual look, Geek's are however problematic conversationalists and generally should not be engaged unless one is aware of the tell-tale warning signs:

1) Converation Steering: Geeks have no interest in your opinion. And they generally have no patience for any conventional topics. Indeed they tend to abhor all topics of discussion that do not feed directly into their obsession. So if your ideas about how President Musharraf can creatively cross the city of Karachi without inconveniencing the locals does not involve either a reference to the latest Marvel Comics Crisis or an Akira Kurosawa film then it's falling on deaf ears. Geeks will always try to steer the conversation into their area of speciality. This is never subtly done. It is also almost never an topic a normal person has any knowledge about, thus creating a temporary sense of superiority in the Geek's head.

2) One-upping: Geeks love to out-geek someone. If you have a modicum of knowledge about the subject, please oh please don't share it. This is seen as a challenge and an affront to a Geek's area of speciality. Responses become less about an exchange of ideas and more about proving that they know more than the other person. Sometimes the comments demonstrate technical superiority by revealing some improvement and other times it's by dismissing an idea by proposing a new idea that makes the original idea appear inferior. This most often happens in groups of more than two, but it can happen with just two as well. And there's a spectrum. Sometimes conversations are thick with geek talk and others where it's very subtle.
An example of geek talk:

Geek 1: I've been fiddling with X for some time and really like it but it's missing Y
Geek 2: You're using version 1, last week on Slashdot there was a post saying that version 1 was crap
Geek 3: And using X was advised against by XYZ Security
Geek 2: No, you can use version 1 as long as you patch it with patch 1.1
Geek 3: Yea but then X consumes three times as much CPU and doesn't deallocate memory
Geek 2: Hardware is cheap, grab a few XZ200 boxes and throw in 10 sticks of memory
Geek 3: Even so, if you want to do Y there are 10 solutions better than X
Geek 2: I've been using A, it's much faster and has no disk-performance issues
Geek 3: A is good, but only when you compile it with the --little-known-fact option
Geek 1: Our team has been using X for a long time and it works pretty well except for it's missing Y
Geek 3: X is legacy, you should be off it by now
Geek 2: The predecessor to X, W, was written for DOS (ha ha ha), X inherited all that DOS-based junk
Geek 3: If you want Y you shouldn't be using X, it wasn't designed for that
Geek 2: (to Geek 3) You think there was a design behind X? (both laugh)

The alternative to this conversation might have been something like:

Geek 1: I've been fiddling with X for some time and really like it but it's missing Y
Geek 2: Interesting, what kind of things are you doing with X?

If one is aware of these pitfalls, avoiding them is easy. It is simply a matter of knowing where the trap is and how to spring it. Much like Lara Croft in the Tom Raider: Legend when she has to free the Sword of Destiny from behind the Pool of Serpents. Which is made quite spectacular by the new 3D-rendering engine that actually allows sweat to bead on her forehea....

Get the idea?



Blogger the olive ream said...

This piece is 'extra-orbitantly' (as my math teacher use to say) funny! If your posts are not compiled into a book format it would be a horrendous shame. Plus, if you don't consider doing it yourself, Dan Brown is likely to steal all your ideas and present them as the SIENFELD CODE.

Have you had any luck with hosting your mp3s on your blog? If you haven't, give us holler and I'd be happy assist in sourcing a solution.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Abbas Halai said...

good stuff mate. i have to get my wife to read this. isn't it a shame that my brother is the editor of the damn magazine and i STILL don't get the damn thing here.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Xill-e-Ilahi said...

hilarious dude, absolutely hilarious. i'd love to see a stand up version of somethimg like this on one of your black fish things...

12:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home