Geeks vs. Nerds Graph Defines Each Genre Once and For All [Pic]

Tired of hearing the incessant bickering of people trying to figure the best way to describe what makes a nerd a nerd and a geek a geek, Burr Settles turned to twitter to end the debate. After analyzing millions of tweets about how people used each term in association with descriptive keywords, he designed a graph listing some words and hashtags that are more likely to be associated with “geeks” or “nerds.”


From Burr Settles:

Moving up the vertical axis, words become more geeky (“#music” ? “#gadget” ? “#cosplay”), and moving left to right they become more nerdy (“education” ? “grammar” ? “neuroscience”). Words along the diagonal are similarly geeky and nerdy, including social (“#awkward”, “weirdo”), mainstream tech (“#computers”, “#microsoft”), and sci-fi/fantasy terms (“doctorwho,” ”#thehobbit”). Words in the lower-left (“chores,” “vegetables,” “boobies”) aren’t really associated with either, while those in the upper-right (“#avengers”, “#gamer”, “#glasses”) are strongly tied to both. Orange words are more geeky than nerdy, and blue words are the opposite.

In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff (e.g., “#stuff”), while nerdy words are more about ideas (e.g., “hypothesis”). Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. Of course, geeks can collect ideas and nerds play with stuff, too. Plus, they aren’t two distinct personalities as much as different aspects of personality. Generally, the data seem to affirm my thinking.

[Burr Settles | Via IO9]

33 Responses to Geeks vs. Nerds Graph Defines Each Genre Once and For All [Pic]

  1. Instagram, ironic, pretentious, shiny, etsy and iCrap (hotness and boobies also?!) are not geek! They’re hipster stuff to say the least. Or just for regular people. Stop messing up with the term Geek, everyone is denigrating it. Next thing starbucks, barista and vintage will be called geek stuff. Geek is geek, hipster is not!

    • I would like to contest your comment in two ways: first of all, to ask you to define “normal” people, because that is by far the hardest definition to quantify that I have ever seen; secondly, to contest that “shiny” is relegated to the hipsters. It’s from Firefly, so Browncoats the world over use it constantly. We are most definitely not hipsters, at least for the most part.

  2. You should be ashamed of yourself for putting “autism” on here as a quality of a geek or nerd. This is a sometimes devastating health issue for people and families and people are working hard every day researching this. Seriously. Stop writing anything forever.

    I will never read another article on this website again. Disgusting.

    • Before ignorantly jumping to conclusions when you see the words “geek”, “nerd”, and “autism” all in the same website, read the plethora of other words on the site. You know, the ones that clearly explain that the chart was generated automatically be performing statistical analysis of millions of tweets that contained either the word “geeky” or the word “nerdy”.

      Maybe next time you’ll think twice before shaming yourself on the internet.

    • You should consider that there are various levels of autism. Yes, it is certainly a health issue that families have to deal with. Most of those families deal with low-functioning autism, and even those people with low-functioning autism have a habit of hyper-focusing on things similar to those with high-functioning types of autism, such as Asperger’s (which, incidentally, only a percentage of the people who show the symptoms of being an Aspie are actually diagnosed).

      Take for instance Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. Jim Parsons has said more than once that Sheldon does have autism, yet he is the quintessential nerd that everyone thinks of today because of BBT.

    • Don’t take it so seriously. Most high functioning autists prefer being categorized as nerds as opposed to a lot of other stuff they (OK, we) are called by those who don’t know much about autism. I actually found this funny, especially since my 4-year old autistic son is the dictionary entry for “nerd”, calling his sleeping buddy plush star “VY Canis Maioris”, and stuff like that.

  3. Finally, someone else who understands this relationship. Most of the geek vs nerd posts I’ve seen online, to include some of the articles on this site, have spanned the spectrum from inaccurate to wrong. A very original way to present that information though.

    • I think that just means you are a geek with a tiny bit of nerd. I am a nerd with a tiny hint of geek in me and I get the feeling most of us will be a mixture of both just favouring one side or the other. Plus these are just terms most commonly associated with being either a geek or a nerd so it’s not necessarily correct with how people identify themselves.

  4. I noticed that the item that tend to have more negative social images are all on the nerd side. This graph seems to have put together by someone who wants all of his personal likes to be on the geek side, since geeks are now considered cool while “nerd” still has a negative social stigma. Epic fail.

  5. It’s a great idea, but I’m not quite sure it actually clarifies the distinction, statistically. The border between the two colors that he draws, although representing a 1:1 geekiness-nerdiness radio, is arbitrary. We don’t have two clusters. Someone correct me if I’m missing something.

  6. I’d like to point out that this study is narrow in that it only involves those who use Twitter…I don’t, and I know others that consider themselves either geeks or nerds who don’t. I think it’s inaccurate as far as geekdom and nerddom go.

  7. Of course Doctor Who is pretty much dead center. It is the one fandom to rule them all, one fandom to find them, one fandom to bring them all and on the internet bind them.

  8. I don’t recall this being a controversy when I was a pariah in highschool because of my geek/nerd-dom… i agree with the Portlandia skit… real geeks/nerds are ashamed to be called that…

  9. according to this, i’m more all over the map`than google maps with skitzophrenic multiple personalities. i question accuracy.

  10. Looks like a result of the now jock-infused geek culture attempting to redefine itself as somehow cooler than traditionally accepted. It was an inevitable result of the rising popularity of geek culture as demonstrated by more and larger conventions catering to the general public, as well as Hollywood mining the comics world for new special-effects-extravaganzas that they can call “movies.” The once outcast culture has been adopted by the mainstream, which forces the outcasts elsewhere… and the pendulum swings.


  11. I think starting with the overuse of these words by hipsters and other non nerds/geeks which use these terms wrong or even without any differentiation statistical analyses like these have become useless.

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