Understanding Your Nerd

Image credit: 

Nerd culture is ascendant: I recently covered the "Tact Filter" theory, an attempt to explain communication style differences between nerds and, well, normal people. Becky asked What is a nerd, anyway? prompting a discussion of what makes a nerd. Heck, we've even discussed nerdcore hip hop! Now I bring you a wonderful find for those who know and love nerds, but need help understanding them.

Written as sort of a "Nerds are From Mars..." (actually, where would nerds be from? Deep Space 9? Pluto?) guide for nerds' Significant Others, The Nerd Handbook explains nerd habits and motivation. While the article seems focused on computer nerds specifically, many of the nerd behaviors described are applicable to the entire nerd spectrum. Here are some samples:

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why.

First, a majority of the folks on the planet either have no idea how a computer works or they look at it and think “it’s magic”. Nerds know how a computer works. They intimately know how a computer works. When you ask a nerd, “When I click this, it takes awhile for the thing to show up. Do you know what’s wrong?” they know what’s wrong. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, he knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and he knows how to make those bits move faster.

Your nerd has built himself a cave. I’ve written about The Cave elsewhere, but here are the basics. The Cave is designed to allow your nerd to do his favorite thing, which is working on the project. If you want to understand your nerd, stare long and hard at his Cave. How does he have it arranged? When does he tend to go there? How long does he stay?

Read The Nerd Handbook (warning: some coarse language) for a nuanced, intelligent guide to the care and feeding of your nerd. If you like that, there's lots more nerdy stuff at the author's blog, Rands in Repose.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

More from mental_floss...

November 12, 2007 - 5:01am
submit to reddit