A Tour of the Nerd Kingdom

January 30, 2015

Neil Traft

The etymology of "nerd" and the history of the people to whom it applies They are known by many names: nerd, freak, geek, geck, fop, dork, doofus, dweeb, boffin, aspie, sperglord, otaku, and even dorkus malorkus. When words like these hit our ears, vivid images leap to mind of befuddled, bespectacled, pimply-faced teenagers with pale exposed thighs and knee-high socks. But why? There are many forms of nerds, many breeds in this vast and diverse kingdom. What ties them all together, and what separates them from the rest of us? What exactly makes one a nerd? To address these questions I will take us on a whirlwind tour through the history of both nerds and jocks; intellectualism and primitivism; autism spectrum disorders; the connection between D&D and software engineering; wizards and the tech industry; hipsters, geek chic, and the geek pride movement. Join me as I embark on a quixotic quest to unravel the deeply entangled cultural cues that come together to form this fascinating phenomenon we call... the Nerd!