Nerds.com’s raison d’etre is to both explore the essence of “Nerd”, their world, personalities, passions, expertise and to deliver the physical and digital stuff that nerds want – and might actually need.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Ask “What is a nerd?” and Google delivers about 94,300,000 results. That’s a lot of results for a four-letter word that describes a… well, what? Let’s narrow it down a bit. and along the way we’ll give you our definition because it is at the heart of the Nerds.com editorial and business model.
Back to Google. Here is what they put front and center on the ‘nerds’ results page.
One rather important head-scratching question. How did they come up with “fool – booby – goof” as synonyms?
On to Wikipedia:
A nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a person, typically described as being overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities.
Additionally, many nerds are described as being shy, quirky, and unattractive, and may have difficulty participating in, or even following, sports. “Nerd” is a derogatory, stereotypical term, but as with other pejoratives it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.
And From The Verge:
One of our very favorite definitions comes from the academic, thoughtful and funny article, “What is a nerd?”, from the tech expert The Verge. The article, was written by Adi Robertson, who, if you don’t mind some digression, is described in her The Verge bio as (you’ll see why she was chosen to write the article):
Adi Robertson is a reporter for The Verge. Her corporeal form exists in Brooklyn, and she eagerly awaits the development of teleportation, neural implants, and the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.
From the article (and we urge you to read the whole thing because it gives us hope that a liberal arts education can still be had):
Passion and knowledge are prerequisites to nerdiness, though the same could be said for almost any label. But beyond that, there’s often an unspoken rule: you have to have suffered.
Another important point discusses the community aspect of nerdiness.
Even if nerds aren’t trying for the “cultivated whiteness” described by Nugent (Benjamin Nugent (author of American Nerd: The Story of my People), writing up requirements that extend beyond simple passion usually ends up limiting people, not bringing them together. “If fashion can’t be nerdy, what is cosplay? If sports can’t be, what about obsessive workout tracking? In fact, when it comes to nerdiness, it’s strange to assume it should be a single culture at all. If nerdiness is indeed the combination of intelligence, obsession, and social ineptitude, why would we think such relatively common traits would coalesce into a community? And if it’s a list of specific interests, why do we assert that there’s a specific personality type for people who share them? As nerd extraordinaire John Scalzi put it, “there are as many ways to be a geek as there are people who love a thing and love sharing that thing with others.
The Nerds.com Nerd
OK, here is our take.
The Old Nerd
We view the idea of “nerd” as having a historical definition and, importantly, a very specific cultural image. The image, and you know where we are going, includes at various times true awkwardness, fashion ineptitude, the black-taped-eye-glasses thing, a weird focus on things like Captain Kirk, hours of Bioshock: Infinite, and on. One of our favorite images of the Old Nerd is Jerry Lewis from the 1963 film “The Nutty Professor.” Yes, we know that many or our readers only know Eddie Murphy’s take on the professor. But, Jerry rocked it.
Hey, we loved the Old Nerd but he is long gone. Even the ultra-hollywoodized and corporatized Comic-Con seems retro to us.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The New Nerd
Our New Nerd builds on a the traditional attributes of intelligence and obsession and adds a strong success factor. Today’s New Nerd has in fact inherited the earth. How so?
1. He envisioned and built our future. Think Jobs and Woz.
2. She wrote the code and controls your information.
3. He makes some serious cash. Google’s Sergy Brin and Larry Page are together worth over $50 billion. The Twitter founders fly private and Elon flys rockets.
4. They are not afraid to start thousands of companies. Spend some time perusing the 178,627 entrepreneurs on CrunchBase.
5. They fascinate you. Google Trends tells us that we find the new nerd “interesting” and increasingly search-worthy.
OK, OK… So, what is the Nerds.com definition of “Nerd”?
Our New Nerd is… “An intelligent, focussed, passionate expert in a particular discipline or profession.”
Be gone the idea that a nerd is, as Merriam-Webster says, an “unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person.”
And, Then There Is The Question: What’s The Difference Between Nerds And Geeks.
It is difficult to discuss what a nerd is without getting into the discussion of how nerds differ from geeks and occasionally dorks. But we have. So far. To be a bit helpful, we offer the graphic that will soon be on one of our series of black t-shirts. Check it out below and, if you dig it, let us know and we’ll let you know when the t-shirt is available on our website.
You can email us at Yo@nerds.com to get on the waiting list.