Thursday, 06 January 2005

The other day I was discussing the differences between geeks and nerds with someone. I said that I thought I was probably more of a geek than a nerd, and had to try to explain why there’s a difference and what those differences are.

I started to wonder if I was wrong, that maybe they’re the same, but today I think I can safely say that’s simply not true.

Hypothesis: I am a fairly prolific geek. I am not much of a nerd.

I just took this online test because Mark Orchant (theofficeweblog) was surprised at his results. He’s obviously a smart person, and came out with a pretty darn nerdy score and I was wondering what mine would be.

This test is very nerd specific – meaning it addresses things like Star Trek, graphing calculators, the periodic table, pictures of really old guys nerds would know about, and stuff like that. On a scale of 1–100, I scored 31. Click the graphic to find your score…

So there you have it – Greg is not nerdy.

What about the Geek Factor? Exactly one year ago today (hmmmm that’s kinda weird, isn’t it?), I took another online test – the “Digital IQ” test at MSNBC. I scored way off the top of the scale on that one. I also took it again this morning to refresh my memory of the questions and to see if my score had changed – it was exactly the same. In this one they use the word “nerd” in their description of “digital ace,” but I think it’s misplaced based on the questions they ask. Geek would be a better term, IMO. It’s still available online – click the image below to find out your score there.


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Thursday, 06 January 2005 10:26:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Thursday, 06 January 2005 15:04:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I only scored 95 =( Im not the geek I once thought I was.
Saturday, 08 January 2005 06:15:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Greg: I got a 207 - I guess my failure to use a cellphone to access the net or the fact that I don't have a converged PDA/phone kept me from scoring as high as you (that plus the lack of an online broker). I am so retro! Thanks for the link - that was fun.
Thursday, 24 March 2005 08:43:34 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I would have to agree I only got a 22 on the nerd test but I am the official queen of the geeks in my home town =)
Tuesday, 31 May 2005 16:21:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Well I learned a lot. I'm not much of a geek; turns out I'm a major nerd, though - 87%! Thank you for the education - I think.
Sunday, 17 July 2005 16:30:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

Yes, there's a difference..
However, that MSNBC test is totally geered towards gadgetty geeks who have money enouh for new gadgets, and also geared towards Microsoft users (what can you expect, it being on MSN, though...)

The question on whether you've wrtten a spreadsheet macro for instance - I haven't, but I have been programming since I was 10 years old in various languages (BASIC, Pascal, C, C++, Java, Perl, BASH scripting, HTML/CSS, etc etc...) so the test is a little under my caliber in that area.. th bit about PDAs too, well, I would say that using a PDA if you boguht it yourself (as opposed to only using it for business) is definitely geeky, bu not using a PDA doesn't make you any less of a geek. I don't use one because A) I don't travel much, since I am currently attending university through correspondence, so I don't need much in the way of mobil devices and B) I don't have enough money (Student Loans, anyone? ;)) for a PDA.

Anyway, my point is, yes there's a difference between nerds and geeks, a very important one that is also a little hard to define because of how much overlap there is between the two, but those particular tests aren't exactly the best I've seen for defining either a nerd or a geek.

Oh, and anyone who regards the jargon file as an unauthoritative source is either a reeeaaaallly old geek/nerd or else not a geek or nerd at all :)
James Flewelling
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