I don't remember whether I posted this article when it was new, I may have done but it's been a long time (it was posted in November 2007). That said, it's still very relevant and explains a great deal of my behaviour, although not all of it. I was going to put an exclamation mark at the end of that last sentence but I'm a bit too depressed to bother with humour.

The article talks about some of the main behaviour of us geeks, nerds, whatever you feel like referring to us as. Personally I prefer "geek" as I see "nerd" as more of a pejorative.
Grammatical tangents aside, the article raises the following main points:
  1. Projects
  2. Computers and our relation to them
  3. Control issues
  4. Our self-built controlled environments
  5. Toys and Puzzles
  6. Our appetite for information
There are more and I've missed out a few, partly because I don't want to be sitting here typing all afternoon but also because I don't have anything much to say about them at this juncture.


Right, let's kick off with the first one - Projects.
I don't know about other geeks but it's certainly true of my father and myself - we constantly work on things. There might be a single huge project, many smaller ones or a combination thereof, but regardless we're always working on things. In my case it would be, right now, the NSS, Wooden Dice, making/keeping friends, Mordheim, trying to maintain a decent relationship with my girlfriend and probably a few more.

My current re-ignited interest in Mordheim can be evidenced by a quick glance over the last few blogposts I've made. If I could be bothered to take more photos there'd be even more blog posts as I've done more than I've actually posted about. Macro lenses are a pain in the arse though.

Whatever I'm currently most focused on gets a ridiculous amount of attention, so much so that I work to make sure I don't overdo things although I'm probably fighting a losing battle.


Let us move onto the next point:

Computers and our relation to them
To quote the article : He sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable.
Well, I don't know if I see the world as quite conmpletely knowable, but certainly it is my perspective. There's a great deal of things out there I know about, plenty more that I don't but generally speaking, given a bit of time I can work out most things, including most of the people I've met, for better or for worse. Perhaps I'm wrong but so far I've not found it to be completely broken even if it is somewhat traumatic and is somewhat the reason for my misanthropy.
I don't see people and things as powered by some unknown force, rather explaining the issues I have with religion. It makes me think of the Olde English sketch "Writers of Lost" - how does the world work "ooOooOoh" (accompanied by slow jazz-hands).


Moving on: Control issues

Once again I'm going to quote the article:
Your nerd is sensitive to drastic changes in his environment. Think travel. Think job changes. These types of system-redefining events force your nerd to recognize that the world is not always or entirely a knowable place, and until he reconstructs this illusion, he’s going to be frustrated and he’s going to act erratically.

It explains quite a lot of my behaviour and why the rest of the NSS exec were concerned with how I would react to changes made to the NSS Podcast whilst I was away. It's difficult to get me to agree to change without either just doing it or knowing how to deal with me. Ironically the changes they made brought it more inline with the original vision for the show as our old notes show.

It's also why it really screwed with my head to shave my beard off. I miss my beard still. It didn't look great but it was something I chose to have, something I wasn't allowed when I was younger (much like I wasn't allowed long hair when I was in school - no beards either).


Our self-built controlled environments

My controlled environment is generally my primary laptop or desktop. These days it's my laptop but the same was true when I had a desktop. It's a portable virtual environment where I call the shots without having to justify my actions to anyone. Admittedly I often call the shots and do things without answering to anyone in the real world too but that's not the point I'm trying to get to.

It contains my music, access to my video library, my photos, my bookshelf and much more. I used to keep a physicial version of this environment but it became unmanageable given how often I've moved. This does have the disadvantage that it's not necessarily visible if I like something or not. You can't glance at a rack of CDs, a row of DVDs, look at photos on the wall. Sorry.

In our flat in Edinburgh I/we attempted to establish a common space that would share many characteristics of our individual controlled environments. Our living room contains an extensive media centre, extensive gaming capabilities, reclining areas, work areas and project areas. I've currently got my laptop sitting on the kitchen counter and my Mordheim projects on the dining table. Matt has his textbooks and assignment papers around the coffee table, Chris has the latest Afro Samurai waiting for him to watch when he finds a minute.

The idea for me is to have a "safe zone" where I can relax. I can wear just a dressing gown if I want, I can retreat into myself, as it were. I find too much social contact very tiring. It was great having Elasticbandy here but it did mean that by the time she went my head was spinning - I'd barely had any down time to just be on my own and wait for my brain to recharge. It's probably why I'm depressed at the moment. I don't know whether I was a good host, whether I alienated my girlfriend, whether there's any problem at all.
This confusion also partly explains my escapism - I'm retreating to a different mental place, somewhere I understand.


Sorry, got a bit bogged down there - Toys and Puzzles

I like puzzles of a certain kind. It varies between geeks. Some love programming, some love RPGs, I like all sorts of things. I don't like puzzle games, by the way. Too artificial.
It's all part of the knowable system concept - I know when I've finished building a website, when I've finished a wiki article, when I've finished painting a miniature, when I've finished editing a podcast. I can give pretty good estimates of many things in human social terms but they're just that - judgements, estimates. It's not possible to be certain.
But when I finish something I get a little kick out of it. For example, right now I'm still rather chuffed with how the green parts of the Reiklanders I painted over the last few days turned out. I want to paint some more of them as I liked it so much.

I try to make sure I don't get too involved with projects that don't achieve anything. I like finishing video games, for example, but I recognise that in the majority of cases it's a hollow victory, an accomplishment that isn't worth anything, so I don't tend to play that many of them, even if I do enjoy them.


Right, let's carry on to the final point:
Our appetite for information

I know a great deal of random things. I'm utterly useless at pub quizzes, although I partly theorise that this is because it seems most questions are focused on people. I know the majority of Scrubs facts, storylines and characters but I don't know the names of more than three of the actors!

I don't consider the actors particularly relevant. Who plays Dr. Cox? Not a clue.
What does JD's brother bring him when their father dies? Easy. (Cake)

Off the top of my head I know that a 6Mbit connection will pull data down at a approximately 750kb/s if there's something fast enought to supply it at that speed. I also know that Hive Primus is supposed to be 10 miles tall and that FEV in the context of Fallout stands for "Forced Evolutionary Virus". The thing in common here is that none of them contain any people. Why would I bother remembering the names of people I'm never going to get to know?

I'm bad enough with names of people I've met (partly due to the way my brain prunes people, I guess). I try to remember names but it's hard - most of them I won't see again so there's no point. If they were to be killed in a horrible accident in the next few hours, it wouldn't bother me as they essentially disappeared from existence as soon as I left the social context in which I met them. If I see them several times, chances are I'll remember. I was proud of myself for remembering Graeme's name at a pub quiz I was at. I figured I'd probably meet him again so I made the effort to try and remember him (although I would spell it Graham if I hadn't seen it written down somewhere in the last few hours).

Anyway, back to the point - we like information. We have a broad knowledge of a huge number of subjects and if there's something we don't know we'll be able to find out within moments. I can remember the name of the actor that plays the Janitor. He's a comedian named Neil Flynn. I know he's very tall but off hand I could not remember how tall. It took me all of five seconds to discover he's apparently 1.96m.

With the advent of smartphones with decent internet access it's even easier. I can look things up within moments as long as there's some mobile phone signal. It rocks.

Hopefully the article gives some insight into how we geeks think and some of our odd quirks.

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