Tech Life An annoyingly efficient relevancy engine

The Nerd Handbook

A nerd needs a project because a nerd builds stuff. All the time. Those lulls in the conversation over dinner? That’s the nerd working on his project in his head.


It’s unlikely that this project is a nerd’s day job because his opinion regarding his job is, “Been there, done that.” We’ll explore the consequences of this seemingly short attention span in a bit, but for now, this project is the other big thing your nerd is building, and I’ve no idea what is, but you should.

At some point, you, the nerd’s companion, were the project. You were showered with the fire hose of attention because you were the bright and shiny new development in your nerd’s life. There is also a chance that you’re lucky and you are currently your nerd’s project. Congrats! Don’t get too comfortable because he’ll move on, and, when that happens, you’ll be wondering what happened to all the attention. This handbook might help.

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by her 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 her head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, she knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and she knows how to make those bits move faster.

The nerd has based her career, maybe her life, on the computer, and as we’ll see, this intimate relationship has altered her view of the world. She sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illusion is broken, you are going to discover that…

Your nerd has control issues. Your nerd lives in a monospaced typeface world. Whereas everyone else is traipsing around picking dazzling fonts to describe their world, your nerd has carefully selected a monospace typeface, which he avidly uses to manipulate the world deftly via a command line interface while the rest fumble around with a mouse.

The reason for this typeface selection is, of course, practicality. Monospace typefaces have a knowable width. Ten letters on one line are the same width as ten other letters, which puts the world into a pleasant grid construction where X and Y mean something.

These control issues mean 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. I develop an incredibly short fuse during system-redefining events, and I’m much more likely to lose it over something trivial and stupid. This is one of the reasons that…

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?

Each object in the Cave has a particular place and purpose. Even the clutter is well designed. Don’t believe me? Grab that seemingly discarded Mac Mini which has been sitting on the floor for two months and hide it. You’ll have 10 minutes before he’ll come stomping out of the Cave — “Where’s the Mac?”

The Cave is also frustrating you because your impression is that it’s your nerd’s way of checking out, and you are, unfortunately, completely correct. A correctly designed Cave removes your nerd from the physical world and plants him firmly in a virtual one complete with all the toys he needs. Because…

Your nerd loves toys and puzzles. The joy your nerd finds in his project is one of problem solving and discovery. As each part of the project is completed, your nerd receives an adrenaline rush that we’re going to call The High. Every profession has this — the moment when you’ve moved significantly closer to done. In many jobs, it’s easy to discern when progress is being made: “Look, now we have a door.” But in nerds’ bit-based work, progress is measured mentally and invisibly in code, algorithms, efficiency, and small mental victories that don’t exist in a world of atoms.

There are other ways your nerd can create The High, and she does it all the time. It’s another juicy cliché to say that nerds love video games, but that’s not what they love. A video game is just one more system where your nerd’s job is to figure out the rules that define it, which will enable her to beat it. Yeah, we love to stare at games with a bazillion polygons, but we get the same high out of playing Bejeweled, getting our Night Elf to Level 70, or endlessly tinkering with a Rubik’s Cube. This fits nicely with the fact that…

Nerds are fucking funny. Your nerd spent a lot of his younger life being an outcast because of his strange affinity with the computer. This created a basic bitterness in his psyche that is the foundation for his humor. Now, combine this basic distrust of everything with your nerd’s other natural talents, and you’ll realize that he sees humor as another game.

Humor is an intellectual puzzle, “How can this particular set of esoteric trivia be constructed to maximize hilarity as quickly as possible?” Your nerd listens hard to recognize humor potential, and when he hears it, he furiously scours his mind to find relevant content from his experience so he can get the funny out as quickly as possible.

This quick wit is only augmented by the fact that…

Your nerd has an amazing appetite for information. Many years ago, I dubbed this behavior NADD, and you should read the article to learn more and to understand what mental muscles your nerd has developed.

How does a nerd watch TV? Probably one of two ways. First, there’s watching TV with you where the two of you sit and watch one show. Then there’s how he watches by himself when he watches three shows at once. It looks insane. You walk into the room, and you’re watching your nerd jump between channels every five minutes.

“How can you keep track of anything?”

He keeps track of everything. See, he’s already seen all three of these movies… multiple times. He knows the compelling parts of the arcs and is mentally editing his versions while watching all three. The basic mental move here is the context switch, and your nerd is the king of the context switch.

The ability to instantly context switch also comes from a life on the computer. Your nerd’s mental information model for the world is one contained within well-bounded tidy windows where the most important tool is one that allows your nerd to move swiftly from one window to the next. It’s irrelevant that there may be no relationship between these windows. Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another.

You might suspect that given a world where context is constantly shifting, your nerd can’t focus, and you’d be partially correct. All that multi-tasking isn’t efficient. Your nerd knows very little about a lot. For many topics, his knowledge is an inch deep and four miles wide. He’s comfortable with this fact because he knows that deep knowledge about any topic is a clever keystroke away. See…

Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head. It’s the end of the day, and you and your nerd are hanging out on the couch. The TV is off. There isn’t a computer anywhere nearby, and you’re giving your nerd the daily debrief. “Spent an hour at the post office trying to ship that package to your mom, and then I went down to that bistro — you know — the one next to the flower shop, and it’s closed. Can you believe that?”

And your nerd says, “Cool.”

Cool? What’s cool? The business closing? The package? How is any of it cool? None of it’s cool. All of it might be cool, but your nerd doesn’t believe any of what you’re saying is relevant. This is what he heard, “Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…”

You can be rightfully pissed off by this behavior — it’s simply rude — but seriously, remember that I’m trying to help here. Your nerd’s insatiable quest for information and The High has tweaked her brain in an interesting way. For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about. Expect active involvement from your nerd when you trip the relevance flag. If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing her judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when she’s not listening, and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool,” and when you hear “Cool,” I’m not listening.

Information that your nerd is exposed to when the irrelevance flag is waving is forgotten almost immediately. I mean it. Next time you hear “Cool,” I want you to ask, “What’d I just say?” That awkward grin on your nerd’s face is the first step in getting her to acknowledge that she’s the problem in this particular conversation. This behavior is one of the reasons that…

Your nerd might come off as not liking people. Small talk. Those first awkward five minutes when two people are forced to interact. Small talk is the bane of the nerd’s existence because small talk is a combination of aspects of the world that your nerd hates. When your nerd is staring at a stranger, all he’s thinking is, “I have no system for understanding this messy person in front of me.” This is where the shy comes from. This is why nerds hate presenting to crowds.

The skills to interact with other people are there. They just lack a well-defined system.

Advanced Nerd Tweakage

If you’re still reading, then I’m thinking that your nerd is worth keeping. Even though he’s apt to vanish for hours, has a strange sense of humor, doesn’t like you touching his stuff, and often doesn’t listen when you’re talking directly to him, he’s a keeper. Go figure.

My advice:

Map the things he’s bad at to the things he loves. You love to travel, but your nerd would prefer to hide in his cave for hours on end chasing The High. You need to convince him of two things. First, you need to convince him that you’re going to do your best to recreate his cave in his new surrounding. You’re going to create a quiet, dark place here he can orient himself and figure out which way the water flushes down the toilet. Traveling internationally? Carve out three days somewhere quiet at the beginning of the trip. Traveling across the US? How about letting him chill on the bed for a half-day before you drag him out to see the Golden Gate Bridge?

Second, and more importantly, you need to remind him about his insatiable appetite for information. You need to appeal to his deep love of discovering new content and help him understand that there may be no greater content fire hose than waking up in a hotel overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice where you don’t speak a word of Italian.

Make it a project. You might’ve noticed your nerd’s strange relation to food. Does she eat fast? Like really fast? You should know what’s going on here. Food is thrown into the irrelevant bucket because it’s getting in the way of the content. Exercise, too. Thing is, you want your nerd to eat healthily so that she’s here in another thirty years, so how do you change this behavior? You make diet and exercise the project.

For me, exercise became the project ten years ago after a horrible break-up. When the project was no longer the Ex, I dove into exercise every single day of the week. There were charts tracking my workouts, there were graphs tracking my weight, and there was the exercise. Every single day for two years until the day I passed out in a McDonald’s post-workout after not eating for a day. Ok, so time for a new project. Yeah, nerds also have moderation issues. That’s another essay.

Significant nerd behavioral change is only going to happen if your nerd engages in the project heart and soul. Otherwise, it’s just another thought for the irrelevant bucket.

People are the most interesting content out there. If you’ve got a seriously shy nerd on your hands, try this: How many friends does he have in Facebook? How many folks are following him on Twitter? How many Slacks is he on? My guess is that, collectively, your nerd interacts with ten times more people than you think he does. He can do this because the interaction is via a system he understands — the computer.

Your nerd knows that people are interesting. Just because he can’t look your best friend straight in the eye doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to know what makes her tick, but you need to be the social buffer — the translation layer. You need to find one common thread of interest between your nerd and your friend, and then he’ll engage because he will have found relevance.

The Next High

As you discovered when you were the project, your nerd’s focus can be deliciously overwhelming, but it will stop. Once a nerd believe she fully knows how a system works, the challenge to understand ceases to exist, and she moves on in search of The Next High.

While I don’t know who you are or why in the world you chose a nerd for your companion, I do know that you are not a knowable system. I know that you are messy, just like your nerd. Being your own quirky self will be more than enough to present new and interesting challenges to your nerd.

Besides, it’s just as much a nerd’s job to figure you out, and maybe someone somewhere is writing an article about your particular quirks. Good news, she’s probably reading it right now.

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364 Responses

  1. CaptainBooshi 16 years ago

    Really, if you’re bad at interacting, all you have to do is realized that conversation is a game, and a few basic tactics will let you win with almost everyone. That’s what I did, and within a couple of years, I could get along really well with almost everyone I met. It’s almost ridiculously easy to game the system, actually.

    Of course, your description doesn’t match me perfectly, because my nerd thing is physics, not computers (although I do enjoy them), and I manage to get along well with people. I definitely saw myself in much of what else you wrote, though.

  2. Nicely done. Well-articulated musings on the nerd paradigm.

    Interestingly, nerds are starting to crawl out of one or more of these habits – for instance, learning to ride the high speaking to a lot of people (or travel). And there’s still the Asperger’s-like affinity for cats (usually, tho dogs substitute…) and books.

    And don’t get me started on how fantastic they become when they’re parents, too, though it’s definitely a different sort of parenting.

    Anyway – definitely describes me, at times, in portions, though I’m rarely all of it at once. Good job.

  3. cool

  4. Very well done– I’ve read a lot of articles and blog posts over the years which explain nerd behavior but they usually have a very obvious “I’m 19 and a nerd and this is what I know about the world right now” type perspective to them. I’m definitely ordering your book to read more about what you have to say.

  5. Nice post, I always love your insights into nerd behaviour; mostly because they always map perfectly to my personality and quirks.

    I need to buy you a beer sometime when I eventually decide to visit America.

  6. Definitely very apt. A lot of the description was dead on, especially the bits about immediate relevance evaluation and eating.

    Though I do agree with the s/\bnerd\b/geek/g; FWIW.

    I can’t wait for your next book.

  7. Dead on with me also. I never thought about having a “project” but looking back I always had something I focused on intensely for a few months and then got bored and moved on.

    I also agree with the s/nerd/geek/g but GADD sounds funny.

  8. Another great post.

    How about: “Learning for Nerds” ?

    Anyway, you’ll be happy to hear I did find your book an Amazon, and I’m gonna order it as soon as I come round to it.



  9. So it really is true: I’m a nerd!


  10. David Wragg 16 years ago

    I’m guessing that this article is aimed at people who have to deal with nerds. Unfortunately, as you can see from some of the comments, the people who really latch on to this kind of thing are the nerds themselves. Why is this unfortunate? Because it might be interpreted as relieving nerds of responsibility for the issues caused by their personality type. Greater understanding of the differences between people is a good thing. But nerds, and everyone else with extreme personality types, need to take responsibility for their own personalities, and to learn to moderate their personalities in order to operate well across the whole range of situations that the world throws at us.

    I write this as a nerd, but one who works hard to cultivate the strengths of my personality while overcoming its weaknesses. Because I recognize that if I don’t work on those weaknesses, I won’t be able to live my life to its full potential.

  11. thank you so much for this article. my husband send it (from inside the cave) to me tonight. i’m all smiles after reading it, it’s curious how exactly many of your characterizations match. i’ll send out your post to all the other women i know living with a nerd worth keeping. (ok, there are not many of them.)

    additionally, living with a nerd is a lot easier if you are slightly geeky yourself.

  12. Christopher Humphries 16 years ago

    Best blog post of the year.

    Probably the best profile for me and if anyone ever wanted to really understand me, this would be what they’d read.


    Definitely going to buy your book now 🙂

  13. Dennis Fisher 16 years ago

    With something David Wragg said, I just want to point out that although it could be seen as something that relieves responsibility, it could also just as easily be a wake up call about previously unrecognized behaviors which can be changed now that the behaviors are recognized. A geek could say “huh, never realized I did that before; now that I’m conscious of it, I should try to change it.” I know that between this and The Cave I learned a few things that I hadn’t been consciously aware of myself, and I’ll probably end up with a project or two out of all this.

  14. Christopher Humphries 16 years ago

    An after-thought criticism… Almost offended by this simple terminology, heh.


  15. Leonardo 16 years ago

    The factual accuracy and the incredible insight reflected in this post make me think this might well be the best blog post I have ever read.

    I feel the need to show this to everyone I know that believes I’m good with computers and that I’m “particular” in many ways.

    Thanks for your beautiful writing. I’d let you be my boss any day.

  16. Joanna 16 years ago

    Wow… spot on, and excellently written. I’m definitely going to check out some of your other writing now. Well, after I send my boyfriend a link to this, that is– it explains a lot of my odd behaviours more eloquently than I can. Thanks for writing it.

  17. This post was right on point! I appear to have many traits of a nerd… Guess I’ll begin calling myself “SheNerd”, lol!!

    I wish that I could get away with the relevancy “blah, blah, blah”, thing… I generally do what I call “the brain dump” … ‘Oh, yes, I remember that… [begin spouting info], and BTW [begin rant]….’ Guess I’m going to have to work on that, lol!!

    Great, great insight!!

  18. Clarey 16 years ago

    I’m glad you say at the end of the day a nerd needs to also learn about you and your quirky habits. At the end of the day all this stuff is about compromise – you can recreate their cave but they need to do things for you too! Like complying with a freaky obsessive compulsive obsession to put all cups and glasses on coasters. It’s all worth it in the end 🙂 (My nerd showed this article to me…)

  19. Yatti 16 years ago

    The factual accuracy and the incredible insight reflected in this post make me think this might well be the best blog post I have ever read.

    I feel the need to show this to everyone I know that believes I’m good with computers and that I’m “particular” in many ways.

    Thanks for your beautiful writing. I’d let you be my boss any day.

    — I second this completly..

  20. sandi 16 years ago

    By the way, I’m one of the (nerdy?) wives whose nerd husbands have forwarded them the article. If I were a real nerd, I might have figured it all out on my own after twenty-five years. The smart (probably non-nerd) women who have, probably won’t get to read the article….

    That I haven’t figured it out may mean that I’m not a real nerd, or that he’s not my first project.

    But this article sure helped understand, and that it was sent by my husband as self-disclosure narrows the field quite a bit.

    Thanks, Michael!

  21. Michael 16 years ago

    thanks. just made my trip to the ‘cave’ just that much better today.

  22. Regarding nerd versus geek.

    Each time I write a piece on this type of subject, I do the research to find the actual definition for both words and, yes, there are some specific differences, but, when speaking, I tend to use the words interchangeably.

    For the weblog, Eric is actually spot on, I had to pick one word to throw into my acronym: NADD. GADD just sound lame… well lamer.

  23. Next project set.

    Bringing up children.

    &#60knuckle crack&#62Big ‘ol project&#60/kc&#62

  24. Henry 16 years ago

    You are a genius! You have just described me perfectly! I’m an producer/audio engineer but dabble in some programming and spend a lot of my time in front of a computer. Everything apart from the food bit is spot on! (I eat well slow..) Shall be getting the book.

  25. Alec Cawley 16 years ago

    You’ve been watching me, haven’t you? Because you have got me down cold.

  26. whateva 16 years ago

    I am a nerd lover. This is a really good description of him. You should include that they need to be fed, because often times they won’t eat unless you put something in front of them lol.

  27. my nerd husband gave this to me on his iPhone (his new girlfriend) after I got pissed off at him (again) for not listening to me about my day. I think he actually even used the word “cool”.I should have known his irrelevence flag was waving, though, by the random typing coming from behind his keyboard during my babble. Luckily I am just quirky enough for him to care to give this to me in order to make up. I’m still laughing because it describes him to a t.

  28. Puddy 16 years ago


    helped me understand myselfe..!

    really.. great article

  29. William 16 years ago

    Whats interesting is that most of what you describe as nerd behavior also fits artists, go figure.

  30. Jennifer 16 years ago

    My nerd just sent this to me. Any chance you could point out that even caves need dusting? Something about excessive dust being unhealthy might work, but probably something about how dust can be harmful to computers is likely to be more persuasive. Many thanks.

  31. Oh my God, that is too funny. I laughed the whole way through it. My husband just thought it was fitting, not funny. I told him it’s so funny because it IS fitting.

    Take out the computer part and the shyness part, and most of the rest of that applies to me as well as my computer nerd husband. It just applies to me in terms of writing, cooking, etc., instead of computer stuff.

    Fortunately, my husband has pried himself open to being willing to thinktalk/interact about things that don’t fall under his Projects.

  32. It’s a useful set of descriptions, but not universal. People are nerdy in different degrees, and as another commenter mentioned, it’s up to the nerd to decide whether they want to socialize themselves or not. I recognize some aspects of NADD, ‘project-focus’ and the humor/relevancy engine in my own behaviour, and I am writing this from my cave home studio right now…but I LOVE social situations, making small talk, and presenting / performing in front of an audience. A member of my family is MUCH more along the nerd axis than I am; he works for one of the Big Search Engine companies, doing complex back-end stuff. He definitely lives in his head much more than I do, seems to hate small talk — it’s impossible to talk about anything technical with him without it becoming, essentially, a ‘you don’t know as much as me so I can’t talk to you, so I’m ending this conversation’ moment. It’s frustrating, but maybe now I can try to frame things differently. Otherwise Christmas with the family will be just a bit more tense this year…

  33. David Wragg: you are concerned that nerds will use this article to relieve themselves of the responsibility to make their personalities more socially acceptable.

    I would posit to you that a great number of nerds in a great number of social circumstances find their personalities to be an excellent tool for filtering out irrelevance!

    Socially, a nerd sets a high barrier of entry for “access”. The people who penetrate this barrier are generally other nerds (or more generally, other smart people: if you start saying something a nerd is interested in, the social graces will almost immediately be unnecessary because the nerd will soon be asking very technical questions and getting very technical answers.

    My guess is a large part of this is because most nerds are used to being smarter than the average random new person they meet, so the default assumption is that the meeting will be low value (so, you know, why bother cultivating social graces? Low return on investment!)

    Why do most nerds want any social graces at all? For the purpose of getting a date, basically.

  34. Thank you for saving my marriage. I’m only sort of kidding…. this is a very therapeutic read to a wife of a nerd.

  35. Mrs F Speirs 16 years ago

    My nerd sent me a link to this. It made me laugh because it so describes him! I knew he was a nerd before i married him (so think he is worth keeping) and experience would agree with all your advice!

    Also, from reading your article, I realised I’m a probably a cookery nerd/geek!

    Thank you for a very true and funny article.

  36. Although I am a total Nerd, I got over most of the “problems” described here (I wouldn’t call them problems, but that is the name society has given it), yet I have to say that it fits me well. And the comments are as interesting as your text is.

  37. Although I am a total Nerd, I got over most of the “problems” described here (I wouldn’t call them problems, but that is the name society has given it), yet I have to say that it fits me well. And the comments are as interesting as your text is.

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  38. Although I am a total Nerd, I got over most of the “problems” described here (I wouldn’t call them problems, but that is the name society has given it), yet I have to say that it fits me well. And the comments are as interesting as your text is.

    PS. This error occured

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  39. *beep* it gave this error all the time, yet in the end it was posted each time aswell… sorry

  40. I have to agree with some others..


    Anyhow.. Right on the money sir. You wrote a perfect mini-guide that I can hand to my baffled girlfriend now.. who after 3 years, hasn’t figured this out.

    Also, I am going to buy your book as well.

  41. AMAZING!

    This is the best post regarding we geeks/nerds that i have ever read.

    Congratulations on your knowledge of my psyche 🙂

  42. Paulm 16 years ago

    Holly crap, I think this article is about me! How did you know?!

  43. Well, you’ve basically written down my life, though I would say I’m not quite as extreme as the examples you used [my cave, for example, is meticulously neat and tidy, and would never, ever, have a seemingly discarded mac mini on the floor, nor anywhere else.]

    Now, do i send this to my girlfriend [whom I’ve been with for a short 2.5 months] or not?

  44. Goodness gracious, that was a fabulously entertaining and accurate article about me. How long have you been spying on me?

  45. Unbelievably accurate… Nerds, send this to your significant others. They will appreciate knowing they are not alone!

  46. I’ve never read anything in my entire life that screams “YES THAT IS ME” – I never thought anyone could describe or understand the way I act. But this post, is very accurate.

    Thank you.

  47. Who are you and how do you know me?

    Seriously. I’m scared now…

  48. Takes one to know one! This is absolutely spot on and highly amusing!

  49. Peter 16 years ago

    Nerd = someone who loves learning about new things, intellectual.

    Geek = someone who’s interested in some remote facet about the world that no one else is interested in. I could probably throw in your article here as a better description.

    Dork = someone with zero EQ. This person doesn’t know how to interact with different types of people, but to an even worse degree than what you’ve written about.

    Combine terms to taste.

    This delineation of terms has served me well for many generations.

  50. Fantastic, fantastic stuff. Looking forward to a sequel 😉

  51. Harvard Irving 16 years ago

    The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the computer,

    Uhhh… not all nerds are computer nerds. In fact, it’s possible that the majority of the world’s nerds are not computer nerds. Although most nerds will have some familiarity with a computer, even if it isn’t the main focus of their nerdery.

  52. Nailed me too. Beyond creepy.

  53. Agreeing with others that there needs to be a geek/nerd differentiation whereby the geeks are noted as being socially capable and aware of their difference to mainstream society, the nerds, not so much.

    That said, it’s like you have been running a version of The Truman Show on my life… Scary. Cool, but scary.

  54. rox0r 16 years ago

    How many of these behaviors are on the autism spectrum?

  55. Fuck.

    I can’t work out whether this is like astrology or some such; accurate enough to describe most of the people who would bother to click through. Or, so spot on it’s frightening. [retreats to cave]

  56. Stephen 16 years ago


    Thanks! I just laughed my ass off.

    Also: It was very nice to read something linked on digg that doesn’t feel like it was transcribed to the internet from some kind of crayon blueprint with drool on it.

    I mean to say that you write well.

  57. I think you forgot to add a nerd’s affinity for using brackets, parentheses, semicolons and ellipses. Spot on post especially about the eating, I never thought that had anything to do with being a nerd.

  58. That was very interesting, the best blog post i’ve ever seen. [no really,,]

  59. Escaport 16 years ago

    Please remove yourself from my brain.

  60. Shawn 16 years ago

    William said:

    Whats interesting is that most of what you describe as nerd behavior also fits artists, go figure.

    That’s because artists are nerds too — nerds are hardly confined to the computer science realm.

  61. Enforcing a clean-desk policy in the work place would destroy my meagre attempt at constructing a cave here …

  62. All I can say is OMG! You absolutely nailed it. The recreation of “The Cave” is where I lost it. You see, I married a nerd…and honestly I don’t think I would have gotten this far if I wasn’t a little nerdy myself. Thank you for this post. It just makes me love my nerd even more 😛

  63. Great read. Very entertaining because it’s dead-on. Thanks.

  64. Harvard Irving 16 years ago


    I strongly disagree with the notion of making “geek” and “nerd” interchangeable.

    A nerd is someone who is intelligent, and is passionate about learning – it’s something that lasts an entire lifetime, no matter what forms it may take.

    A geek is one of three things:

    1. A carnival performer who bites the heads off chickens.
    2. Somebody who aspires to being a nerd, but hasn’t made it because of narrow interests or lesser intelligence. It’s more about being obsessed with some particular minutiae, rather than an overarching desire for knowledge.
    3. A nerd who thinks s/he is cooler than other nerds – or in other words, a nerd who aspires to be popular. This type of geek validates anti-social behavior towards nerds, because s/he thinks s/he is better. Little does this “cool geek” realize that s/he will never be cool in the eyes of the jocks and the bimbos – it’s ultimately a form of self-sabotage that undermines everything nerds stand for. They have sold their beutiful nerd soul to the devil for minor acceptance in a social clique.

    For example, Stephen Collins wrote:

    Agreeing with others that there needs to be a geek/nerd differentiation whereby the geeks are noted as being socially capable and aware of their difference to mainstream society, the nerds, not so much.

    This is the delusion of the “geek” who sees themselves as better than nerds. In actuality, they are not more socially capable – they are just much shallower and trying to differentiate themselves from nerds for social status. The true nerd may be much more interesting socially.

    This also fits with my second definition of geek – where the geek may be obsessed with a certain topic, but not a “passionate brain”. I think of geeks such as people who are obsessed by sports statistics. They might have a Rain Man like recall of numbers and facts – but there’s not much going on under there. Or those who are obsessed with Star Trek, or know every single quote from another Sci-Fi series.

    I think the geek is similar socially. He might aspire to collect all the status points needed for a superficial display of sociability – but he’s just parroting, not hacking into the underlying system as a nerd would.

  65. tokyo_suicide 16 years ago

    Dude. You are a genius. I want to hug you.

    No I’m not gay.

  66. Dustin 16 years ago

    my cave (or command center as i call it) fits that description perfectly. If someone were too move my gamecube that i havnt touched in a year i would know instantly.

  67. Ryan Dale 16 years ago

    i was really surprised by how much of your article related to me, i dont consider myself a nerd all the time but i do work as a computer technician, watch tv/listen to audio books and use the computer at the same time and definately have a “cave”, the similarities go on, very good article the next person i get into a long term relationship with is definately going to have to give this a read over so they can better understand me.

  68. Have we met? Have you been stalking me for the past few years? Because I’ve never had a perfect stranger describe me so accurately. Top notch!

  69. Kee Hinckley 16 years ago

    Very well written. However, I should warn you that my wife believes it’s too nerdy as written. To truly reach the non-nerd you need to get someone who is half nerd and have them write a translation. In particularly, you lost her on the fixed space character set stuff, and she said she had to read every sentence twice to get the gist of it.

    Two additional comments.

    To a previous poster: Really, if you’re bad at interacting, all you have to do is realized that conversation is a game, and a few basic tactics will let you win with almost everyone.

    That depends on how good you are at realtime gaming. I’ve always been able to play that from a distance or via email, but doing it in person is much harder.

    And one thing to warn the nerd spouse about. Do not take a nerd’s desires at face value, or you will end up doing all the work and getting none of the pleasure. It’s not that he’s trying to take advantage of you, it’s just that he’s oblivious to the work you’re doing, never mind the resentment you are building up. That situation can end in disaster over the long term.

    I think the compromises you suggested were quite good. Similar compromises need to be found for general “life” issues as well. Taking out the garbage may require a dedicated alarm sound on the iPhone to make it happen, but that’s fine. And while the nerd may blanche at the thought of a hand-balanced checkbook, all those charts and graphs don’t do much good if the bills are never paid on time. The good news is that nerds can learn, they aren’t stuck. It took me years of “if I don’t do this now, she’s going to do it before I get around to it.” to make some very basic things (pick up the piece of paper lying on the floor) automatic–but it happened.

  70. This was very entertaining, you hit the nail right on the head!

  71. This was very entertaining, you hit the nail right on the head!

  72. Scary but true…..

  73. Brilliant! It’s eerily right on the money for myself in a lot of ways. The “project” thing is so dead on it’s not funny.

    You know what is worse than that feeling of smalltalk and irrelevancy? It’s when you meet another nerd who thinks you have everything in common because of some slight overlapping area of interest, (you could be a professional windows software developer, they might make websites for a living and be “into Linux”), and they go on and on and on about it, not pausing to breathe let alone show any interest in what you have to say.

    If you find yourself at any moment talking more than the other person you are not listening enough. Practice good listening skills and you will quickly find people telling you all sorts of interesting, often deeply personal, things you would never have expected and become renknowned as a good converstaionalist.

    Making the study of people an ongoing “project” is very rewarding.


  74. Christian 16 years ago

    Very interesting and insightful article. I am a nerd myself and some of what you say resonates very strongly. Other parts not so much.

    One thing I would suggest is you consider re-writing parts of it, or prefacing it with a glossary. It is aimed at a non-technical audience and most non-technical people aren’t going to know what a context-switch is, or what a flag is. (Bridget: It’s not the kind of flag you can wave)

    Lastly, to people still looking for advice: Be blunt. I often find out that I missed some subtle element of a conversation, which while never explicitly stated everyone else seemed to understand. Dropping hints just doesn’t work. If you polite and calmly ask for what you want you are much more likely to get a better response from a nerd, and they are far less likely to react defensively than a non-nerd.

  75. I am a nerd.

  76. Oops! I just read this on a whim and saw myself in your words. I think most of us haven’t realized that we are “nerds”, just too busy into our “projects” to care. At least I’ve been exercising for the past few years because I thought it was unhealthy to sit at a computer all day in my “cave”. Heres something I posted to my blog the other day that I think sums it up nicely:

    Called my Mom and Dad in Tucson (I live in California). I usually call them at 5pm their time but for some unknown reason I got the time confused and called them at 7pm their time! I get messed up on this daylight savings to standard time every year. Ya think that a person, who can fix computers, writes columns for a newspaper, reads extensively about astronomy and other subjects; could figure out something as simple as a time change. Go figure.

  77. a nerd's girlfriend. 16 years ago

    Funny story:

    My boyfriend, my nerd, was angry about this article because he thought you (the author) were a giant dork with a weird life.

    He is EVERY single thing you mentioned.

    And I love him for it.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  78. Rahul 16 years ago

    Excellent read.. although I’m not completely your typical nerd I can relate to a lot of what you say and I’m kinda tempted to send it to my dad. Might be interesting to write one as an open letter to the parents of nerds 😛 Just a little tweaking… Smell a project coming on?

  79. A Nerds Wife 16 years ago

    I have been a nerds wife for nearly 4 years… I could have done with this article about 6 years ago! It does make a few things clearer…

    The only thing that I ask, (and I think other nerd partners might agree) is that nerds continue to try and fulfill the requirements of being able to live peacefully in the ‘irrelevant’ world that means so much to the rest of us!

    Love ya, hunny. : )

  80. My nerd emailed this to me this morning. I was nearly in tears reading it, every single observation was absolutely him. His current project is baking bread.

  81. Senefen 16 years ago

    It’s me~! Minus the masculine pronoun and I don’t mind presenting to crowds XD.

  82. Awesome article, thanks for not paginating. I really enjoyed the read.

  83. Chris Bielinski 16 years ago

    Well written, but this is complete bullshit. I can’t believe all the people above me…

  84. lol… I guess I’m confirmed a nerd…

  85. Perrin 16 years ago

    A link to this article was sent in Code Project’s newsletter. No wonder so many nerds (including myself) have read it…

  86. Not too far off, except I love to travel. I definitively have the information addiction, at any rate. And although I have my Cave, I’m always happier when I’ve dragged someone down in there with me. 😉

    I have to say though, the content of this post feels extremely similar to Mikki Halpin’s “The Geek Handbook” ( Probably coincidental, though, given the topic.

    And I think there’s a kind of nerd TV-watching you’ve left out — the the kind I do, the intertextual kind. It’s similar in philosophy to flipping channels but differs in practice: this is the constant running commentary of every actor or showrunner that was in something else, every obscure reference, every borrowed plotline. It’s the kind of mindset behind both MST3K and the endless cross-references of Wikipedia.

  87. artwork 16 years ago

    There are female nerds too.

  88. Chris Hubbs 16 years ago

    You’ve got me nailed. Scary.

  89. YPLim 16 years ago

    Nice article.

    Hit right on the spot. =)

  90. Daniel 16 years ago

    The fact that I can solve the Rubik’s Cube, get pissed when the people who clean my room move things around, absolutely love any type of puzzles, and love getting “The High” truly make 1. me a nerd 2. your article, my biography.

    Magnificent Article.

  91. Christopher Humphries 16 years ago

    Wonder if the FBI will use this article to help in their profiling efforts?

  92. Sebastian 16 years ago

    You scare me… Cause you just described me perfectly. I’m going back into my cave now.

  93. To reply to Artwork: Yes, there are She-Nerds too.

    To come back to the article: Wow that fits me so well. My cave is my domain, I hate it when someone enters and mess things up.

    And my ‘Cool’ word is ‘uhu’ If I say that in a conversation to my boyfriend he’ll just say ‘You are not listening’ and then I reply ‘uhu’.

  94. Best page for anybody wanting to understand me better. Great writing.

  95. Steffan Williams 16 years ago

    The most interesting and entertaining article I’ve read in quite some time! I’ve just emailed it to my girlfriend because even though I’ve tried to tell her some of these things in the past, this sums it up almost perfectly.

    Hilarious stuff… and unfortunately true.

  96. Great article! Disturbingly accurate description of many of my own characteristics.

    My girlfriend has developed a sixth sense of when I’m not paying any attention to what she’s saying, and has developed her own techniques to provoke a response. 🙂

  97. Simply astounding. I’ve sent this url to my gf. It will crack her up. This article has me pegged right down to the preffered font described.

    frighteningly funny.

  98. Oh my gosh, that’s my nerd. Thank you for this important public service.

  99. CyberSkull 16 years ago

    I exibit many of these behaviors. I watch several TV shows at once. I like computer and thinking of things as systems (sort of, I know that the world is an ineffable collection of systems). I have the odd humor.

    But I’ve never thought of myself as being the project kind. I guess I am in some ways, but not others.

    This article has given me much to think on. I should also check to see how much of this maps to ADD or Asperger’s.

  100. This is a brilliant piece of writing.

    While as a nerd I am fairly well adjusted and actually quite good at interacting with people (I work as a pre-sales consultant, so I span both technical and sales disciplines), I still have many of the characteristics listed.

  101. GirlEngineer 16 years ago

    Sending this to my husband-although after 30 years, he has already figured out that “Gigabytes are a girl’s best friend”. Maybe this will help him understand my other quirks a little better.

    Thanks, Rands!

  102. Jason 16 years ago

    Sounds familiar. But there are many types of nerds. Based on what you said I’m an art nerd. I’m a complete nerd about painting…that’s what I do in my cave, it’s my high.

  103. Robert 16 years ago

    Oh dear; you have me in a nutshell my good sir. Well done!

  104. Isaac Mendez 16 years ago

    Best post I read this morning and for the past week as a matter of fact.

    Now I don’t feel like a total outcast for being who I am. Wish my parents would understand me a lil better 🙂

  105. Youma 16 years ago

    Brillian analysis! This is indeed asperger syndrom, though that can involve almost any hobby, not just computers.

  106. Beautiful. I’m blessed to be a nerd’s woman right now and this post is exactly what I’ve come to realize about him over the last two years (couldn’t be happier with all of it). Well done, sir. I’m getting ready to email him this right now.

  107. Scarily accurate… I’m in my cave right now, it’s 7AM (I thought it was closer to 3AM), and I have packaging under my desk that’s probably about 2-3 months old. Hopefully the cleaners won’t move it, it’s in just the right place for my feet right now.

    3 IRC rooms open, 3 MSN chat windows, coding some simple C# games in Notepad++ (I doubt I’ll finish them, but at the moment they’re interesting), Paint Shop Pro open (making some interface icons for one of the people in those chat windows), listening to music, watching some TV shows online, and finally, have Firefox open with 6 tabs (3 about Frets on Fire, 2 about C#, and this one). And I’m keeping track of it all.

    As I’m in a Uni hall of residence, people knock on my door from time to time. Sometimes I respond, sometimes not. It’s a shame none of them seem to share my interests, but that’s what MSN is for.

  108. Great post.

    My husband and I are both rather nerdy. We also have five nerdy kids (okay, four, but I swear my son IS ours biologically, even though he’s nothing like the rest of us).

    I get frustrated sometimes with all of the nerdiness in the house. Each one of us always has some crazy “don’t touch it, I’m in the middle of something!” project — and then we have people over or something and everything gets frantically stashed away to make room for them. OR, if we have to be ON TIME when we’re going somewhere (like right now, actually) and no one can put down their project — everyone is in their cave and no one wants to come out.

    Do you have any advice for this family of nerds to make interaction with the rest of the world a little easier? Perhaps a “game” or “puzzle” approach to make it less like pulling teeth to get everyday (mundane, ordinary) things accomplished – like chores?

  109. Excellent post.

    I thought I might point out another aspect of sitting in The Cave all day and then coming home that I call the “twitch mode” effect.

    It’s occasionally another facet that inclines the nerd to say “Cool” at an inapropriate time.

  110. Penne 16 years ago

    I have been married to a nerd for 21 years this week. He has all the characteristics you described and more, like a crazy obsession with cell phones. He’s had 3 new ones in the last 6 months. Luckily he earns a good living to afford his electronics habits. Like having to have the latest video games, remote car starters, computer software. Some guys are known for their love of cars, he is known for the love of automotive wiring systems. His projects have ranged from online stock investing, “tweaking” every computer in the house (and there are many – mostly so noone will go near his CAVE),to writing programs for our three daughters to test there math skills, who knew the flash cards that schools have used for years were so inefficient. I know he could not rest until their computerized flash cards were timed and gave them the actual percentage of accuracy. I’m sure other 2nd graders were shaking their heads in wonder.

    I think there should be an online support group for spouses and families of nerds. Although our oldest 2 daughters are sort of nerdy by association. They were and are members of the US FIRST Robotics team. Need I say more. Our youngest loves horses, has her own horse, and spends little time indoors. I would love to find a way to make my husband learn to express at least mild interest in her life even though it isn’t something he cares about, his aloofness can be very hurtful at times to a little girl who thinks her Dad is the smartest guy in the world.

    My 16 year old daughter actually emailed me this article even though we were in the same house.

    Any suggestions?

  111. This is more a description of an aspergers-addled mind.

  112. spoonyfork 16 years ago


  113. Laura 16 years ago

    Genius! My husband just sent me this, and it’s amazing (and made me smile a lot)… It’s like a manual for understanding how he works! Thanks

  114. Amanda 16 years ago

    My nerd boyfriend sent this to me and it really made me wake up to a few things. I’m very glad I read this before going down the road because now I feel like I have an instruction manual for the perplexing toy that is a nerd. Not only did I laugh out loud, but I felt chills reading certain parts that I knew were spot on. I think this should sent to anyone dating/married/or considering entering INTO a relationship with a nerd. Forewarned is forearmed but mine is definitely a keeper so this was fantastic.

    Can’t say thank you enough!

    p.s. I thought I was a she-nerd before reading this but have come to the conclusion that I’m just a slightly goofy geek. And there is DEFINITELY a difference between the two.

  115. Like many before me, my husband sent this to me so I could better understand him. It’s dead on!

    I must say there have been many times when I reminisce about the days when I was my nerds project. And I hate those times when he’s in his cave.

    But one difference between what my nerd says and what you’ve written (so well, by the way!), is that having me in his life gives him some stability amongst all his other projects. I’m the one constant for him. I guess that’s as good as it gets.

  116. jessica 16 years ago

    this was amazing!! this is my nerd to the T!!!!!!

  117. jessica 16 years ago

    this was amazing!! this is my nerd to the T!!!!!!

  118. This is the most fascinating article that I have stumbled across in a while. It hit the nail on the head more than any other assessment of a nerd than anything I’ve ever read. This should be cataloged, linked to from wikipedia and made available to anyone who wants to better understand a nerd. This is fabulous. Well done.

    Does it feel strange to know that you have now impacted people’s lives in a tremendous way?

    You may have just saved a relationship, spawned one, or inspired one. *nods*

    Okay, Cheers,

    Nick West

  119. PonderS 16 years ago

    “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,…”

    Clearly, the author is not a nerd.

    chirp chirp chirp…

    I’ll get my coat.

  120. Rachel 16 years ago

    This is a great post article. Something that i also will send to my friends. This helps explain the attention issue i miss from my nerd. It’s weird to see how many characteristics in this article pertain to my nerd. He is reading this right now. I can’t wait for him to finish b/c i already know that afterwards he will talk about it and what might or might not make sense… it’s just what he does. I am glad that he wrote this article it clears a lot up.

  121. I just about fell off my chair laughing,reading this. I’ve sent it to my wife and daughter as well as a few of my nerd friends.

    Now I know what makes me tick.

  122. Clayton 16 years ago

    I am a nerd.

    The problem is my “project” hasn’t been school… And I really wish it was, as B’s are no longer acceptable with my parents, who know I’m a lot smarter than I act.

    Past “projects” I’ve had…

    papercraft / origami stuff,

    guitar (I’m holding it on my lap right now),

    video games (Warcraft 3, Ratchet & Clank Going Commando, TF2),

    music (trying to get as much as I could)

    Magic cards (I think this is probably my current project)

    making my Windows desktop look better than life itself

    fixing my computer


  123. Hell yes sir – this is the most useful article for my friends and family that I’ve ever come across.

    5 stars.

  124. Nerd Luvr 16 years ago

    My nerd sent me this. I have to say, you have him pegged. I happen to love all of his quirks and found this article hilarious!

    More disturbing is I think I just realized that I am a little bit of a nerd myself!

  125. Anita 16 years ago

    Amazing!!!! my dear nerd commented me this, and after he sends me this link.

    Thank you… I can understand me… I had never think I could understand me. And, I can understand my nerd… mmm… we belong to two diferent kind of nerds… but, we are happy together… XD good article

  126. audrey 16 years ago

    It’s cool.. but some of us are a little ADD. I’d like the digest version.

  127. FemBOT 16 years ago

    what’s with the implied ‘maleness’ of nerds?

  128. Christopher Runyon 16 years ago

    Great article. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  129. I’ve been meaning to write something just like this for a couple of weeks now, but you’ve saved me the trouble and wrote and expressed it far better than I think I would have.

    Because of it’s generalization it doesn’t fit me perfectly, but the parts that it misses are relevant enough to help portray a better explanation of who I am and how I work. It has taken the task off my plate to explain, so I can spend the time and energy making sure the quirks don’t stop the cogs in my relationships or hinder my progression through life.

  130. Ananda Rose Bennett 16 years ago

    This is fabulous. I can’t wait to send this to my friends, family, and boyfriend. My boyfriend calls me his geek quad. I love that.

  131. Danny 16 years ago

    Great article, I’ve already passed it on. Finally my friends will have a shot at understanding my quirkiness.

    Bought the book to show my support!

  132. Robin 16 years ago

    It’s unbelievable how much i recognize myself in this.

    Great article!

  133. I’d say this description roughly applies to the whole gamut of creative types – from writers, composers, and artists to mathematicians and scientists, as well as computer nerds/geeks. After all, it seems more plausible that “nerds” have been with us since ancient times, simply taking to the computer when it arrived, than the alternative scenario where the invention of the computer created a whole new class of social outcastes.

  134. OMG I’m a nerd!

  135. great!

    It should be required reading for every HR person, maybe then they wouldn’t end up protecting the IT department from the best software people around just because we can’t play their silly games.

  136. Çognos 16 years ago

    “The Cave” is called brain and – trust me – it doesnt hurt to be in there.

    Without question, your post is well written and funny at some thoughts. But unfortunately it is a problem the to write about people in that funny way (also called sarcasm) without beeing a comedian. If you are a comedian you should leave the “profound”-psychological conclusions away – otherwise your thoughts are irrelevant and malignant.

    Overall – entertaining with a bitter aftertaste of polemic narcissism. But its nothing new in this system because it seems to be a better way to live the life with lambencies.

    So – go into your cave and think about it.

  137. DaveD 16 years ago

    Very well done sir!

    You have helped me understand me just a little bit more.

    The High cometh.



  138. Brandon Lynch 16 years ago

    This is definitely the best explanation of my lifestyle I’ve ever read.

  139. Well done, pretty much describes me dead on.

  140. We’e a two nerd couple. It could be a nightmare of anomie but luckily a couple of our projects overlap and our shared cave contains cats, which are always good for breaking through the ‘cool!’ barrier.

  141. Necros 16 years ago

    That is such a good and very hilarious analogy of a nerd…

    I definitely fit the mold, I must print this and keep it as a guide for new girl friends to read before embarking on a relationship 🙂

  142. My boyfriend sent this to me earlier today, and well, this totally and entirely captures whats its like dating (and being) a nerd.

  143. You missed one thing: some nerd, true nerds, uber-nerds if you will, have multi-threaded parallel-processing brains.

    The relevancy filter runs in parallel on each stream of data the nerd (or knurd for some small subset of the cognescenti) can parse out of the input stream, and threads are allocated to process these threads into usable information. However, the algorithm for assigning tasks to threads is incomplete and error-prone.

    This leads to behavior that is seen as odd at best, rude and threatening at worst.

    Most people do not have multi-threaded brains, so they don’t understand the response they sometimes get. I mean, get over it ! It’s just a thread that threw an exception and terminated with incompletely described output, so I said “What ?” That doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening. I just haven’t requeued the job for completion yet.

  144. Looks pretty spot on. One thing I’ll add is the tendency of nerds to make drastic topic changes in conversation because they were suddenly reminded of something that reminded them of something.

    (BTW, the definition of a ‘dork’ is someone who argues the difference between the definitions of ‘nerd’ and ‘geek.’)

  145. spiderman 16 years ago

    funny how you forgot to mention the Conspiracy Theory (CT) of the nerd… this CT department will give quick answers to all of these “i dont have a system to interact” situations. it grows inside the nerd from childhood and might take over all subsystems with time. thanks for the article!!

  146. anonymous 16 years ago

    Compromise is the key to any relationship, not enabling.

  147. love it love it love it

    Just got Managing Humans in the mail today and really looking forward to reading it.

  148. Hubbers 16 years ago

    The girlfriend will find this most useful 🙂

  149. Laurie Gee 16 years ago

    Wonderful article..describes my 16 year old son to the T. I sent this article to all my family members so that they would understand my son. Others his age don’t understand why his favorite classes are physics and statics and why he would spend his summers attending CIA classes in Washington DC. I am diffently going to buy the book as a Christmas present!!

  150. You have shined light on certain personality traits I have and either couldn’t define or didn’t want to fess up to. A lot to love in this piece. I smell another book in your future.

  151. BabyGotMac 16 years ago

    Is it wrong that instead of sending this link to people, inviting conversation, that I instead blogged about it?


  152. Are two nerds better? 16 years ago

    Was considering quitting my job until I read this, and felt relieved to know that I am just a nerd surrounded my non-nerds, hence the frustration. People come in my cave all the time when I’m in the zone I get weird, snippy and irritable. I have always had weird relationships with supervisors because I am ruthlessly efficient, hideously productive, and but am short and impatient when it comes to small talk. They could always find someone more pleasant, but never with the same capacity for ungodly amounts of work. Nerds are great for that.

    It is often scary as I am a nerd married to a nerd. We do crazy stuff like power duo in WoW, trade Pokemon back and forth over the DS, and cheese the hell out of two player PS2 and PS3 games. We wonder why we have very few friends, but then again, who cares? They’d mess our cave up anyway.

  153. well i’m married to a nerd-who of course found this and has admitted you busted him. couldn’t have written it more accurately. will you write a piece on those non-nerds who are partnered with nerds?!

  154. Chloe 16 years ago

    Sending this to my nerd.

    Then again, he probably already found it.

  155. Great explanations for all the little things that have puzzled me over the last 18 years being married to a nerd. Thanks!

  156. Your nerd may also be female and have a difficult time with people not thinking she’s a “real” nerd because of that. Ask me about my Excel spreadsheet for my last two years of lap swimming…

  157. Omg nuts. best blog ever.

  158. I am going to print this out and put it in every girl’s locker in the school one of these days.

  159. As I sit here in my nerd’s cave, having pushed aside some papers taht have been sitting there for months but must remain because the moment I throw them out they’ll be needed, I can’t help but chuckle. Behind me are a dozen Transformers toys, surrounding the 42″ plasma TV, lit by a carefully selected ikea lighting system… that he spent forty hours in front of last week playing Star Wars on Xbox… *sigh* You’re so right. Thankyou. Brilliantly written, well executed. Glad to interface the world for a brilliant nerd.

  160. WingNut 16 years ago

    Totally defines who i am! good goin dude!

  161. Draemor 16 years ago

    You, sir, are a genius. I will definitely be forwarding this to my girl friend. This even helped me to understand myself better.

    I hadn’t even realized the lengths I’d gone to to create my ‘cave’. I have an open office structure at work, so couldn’t create a proper cave there, but have unfortunately been unable to get a proper internet connection at home.

    So, my cave is split between work and home, with information downloaded en mass at work and taken back to my ‘home cave’ via usb drive.

  162. Sounds like my manual 🙂

    Very interesting and definitly a very good article. I’m recognizing a lot of myself in it and it feels good to see here that I’m not the only one.

    Where can I buy the book?

  163. haxality 16 years ago

    Fantastic post. I feel like I’ve been psychoanalyzed by a genius. :O

  164. lol

    Nod, nod, nod, nup, nod nod, nup, chuckle – big nod, nup nod etc. ….. so, Me:65% MOH: the other 35% (he likes shiny toys, I like what they can *do*), and we have separate caves, but meet on the stairs every now and then.

    Oh and NADD definitely; 2 screens, 8 apps, 4 windows, 9 tabs (usually 12 or 13 per window, but I’m editing source code and uploading right now)


    >Most people do not have multi-threaded brains, so they don’t understand the response they sometimes get. I mean, get over it ! It’s just a thread that threw an exception and terminated with incompletely described output, so I said “What?” That doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening. I just haven’t requeued the job for completion yet.


    ROTFLMAO Oh yeah!

    And what is it with us snerds?


    >I generally do what I call “the brain dump” … ‘Oh, yes, I remember that… [begin spouting info]


    I find it an excellent way of filtering non nerds. myself. 😉

    Although occasionally a non nerd friend (yes, I’ve almost trained myself sufficiently in the arcane arts of “normal socialisation” to have a couple), will ask for some obscure reference to something, and I have to flush the “social” cache, plug in the library archive string and then reboot the system in order to retrieve the data.

    At which point I’ve usually spilled my drink over my shirt. ….

  165. eccles 16 years ago

    Nice article – its pretty rare to find someone that hits all of the points you make, but I think you could match 50%+ to people I know easily enough… (my “i’m not really listening” word is “right” *sigh*)

    My only complaint is the male/female thing too – not all nerds are guys (phew, fortunately).

  166. Brilliant insights!

    Thank you for putting together what I would have titled “Nerds for Dummies”. 🙂

  167. Brilliant. I’m definitely going to go look for your book 😉

  168. Amazingly accurate. Far too many “nerd explained” articles are so far off they are laughable. Well done.

  169. Julie 16 years ago

    Wow. I’ve been married to my nerd for 12 years and thought I understood him now, but here are two or three things in here that made me go “OH! So THAT’S why…”

    I’m off to send this to all my fellow nerd-companions

  170. Greger Olsson 16 years ago

    OMG, I really AM a nerd. I laughed til I almost puked. It was spot on! Almost scary!

  171. 314159265358979323846264338327950288419716406386308998... 16 years ago

    This description is also compatible with Asperger’s syndrome without the occasional poor motor coordination.

    Describes both nerds and people with Asperger’s syndrome more accurately than most articles/books I have read on the topic.

  172. I found myself reading this and going OH. MY. GOD! That’s me. Precisely, succinctly and absolutely. It’s kinda frightening to see yourself explained so well.

    Well-written and freakin brilliant!

  173. I can’t believe how spot on this was. I made my boyfriend read this as soon as he woke up. You are a genius.

  174. Nancy 16 years ago

    WOW – I laughed so hard through this I was practically crying! I’ve always wondered about my Nerd and what’s up with him… I now get it!

    This wasn’t just an article – it was a character reference! AMAZING!!!!!!!

  175. Keith 16 years ago

    I have for many years enjoyed belonging to a select group of individuals Freud described as “The Irish”. Freud once said about the Irish “This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever”. This though has always comforted me, my lack personal skill, my flexible moral character, even my somewhat abrasive borderline rude personality, these characteristics can all be explained by the fact that I am born and bred 100% Irish. Heck it took 2 wives to find one that would put up with me being me. After 15 years in the IT field I am now realizing that being born Irish has predisposed me to admit I am what I am, an Irish Nerd.

    Best Blog post of the year. Well done.

  176. My husband sent this to me from work where I believe he lives in his cave more often than not. I think that this is one of the best things that I have ever read. I would however like to see sometime something on nerd parenting. I only say this because I would really like to know what he is thinking sometimes about our kids. I am sure that I can get some agreement from the wives or SO’s on this but watching a nerd change a diaper is a priceless event when it happens. I was reminded of this last night while my nerd was changing our son. It is amazing what they think about and the logic that is involved sometimes.

    I think that I am definitely going to have to buy the book now. Not that I will have time to read it since I am married to a nerd and have children but I am willing to give it a shot just to see if maybe I can better understand some of the things that he does.

    Thanks again for the brilliant insight.

    (PS I have boys so I think I am going to save this article it may come in handy in oh say 15 to 20 years when they marry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  177. Vincent Vancalbergh 16 years ago

    It is shocking how much of this applies to me. Even though the NADD is greatly reduced the thirst for information, The Cave, the need for structure; It’s all there !

    I used to have a Cave. budget-constraints have forced my wife and me to merge our computer-funds into one dual core. This sadly moves my computer to the living room.

    My wife is all the happier for it, since I am closer by now. Me, I can see the upside: If she’s happier having me nearer while I’m computering, I can reside in my “makeshift-cave” more.

    And that’s fine. Ok, I don’t have a real hiding spot anymore. But when I’m “doing my thing” the imaginary walls are just as effective as real ones in blocking out the rest of the world. “Just be carefull when you roll back your chair dear. Jasper is crawling around behind you.”. “Uhuh”.

  178. Heather 16 years ago

    Wow! My nerd pointed me to this blog, naturally. I’m slightly frightened that he is one of many. But this information is incredibly useful to me. Thank you so much. I have been with my nerd for more than two decades, and I definitely believe he is a keeper.

  179. That makes much more sense now!! I think I understand my nerd even better, even though he may drive me crazy from time to time. 😉

  180. One of the best posts i’ve read for months!

    Thank you

  181. Karla 16 years ago

    I think you writing is excellent! More Please!

  182. Karla 16 years ago

    I think you writing is excellent! More Please!

  183. Adrian 16 years ago

    Spot-on. Very good article, great job.

  184. Susan 16 years ago

    I guess I’m not married to a nerd, because he’s not enough like this article for me to have to apply this to him.

  185. Raphael Campardou 16 years ago


    I actually have an unused MacMini under a pile of papers…

  186. Wolflady 16 years ago

    I’m a nerd engaged to a nerd….what a whirlwind that is….MUHAHAHAHHAHA!!!!

  187. your article should’ve been FUN to read, but it’s slow, hard, boring, inaccuare and irritating..

    nerds are much better persons then that, and not all nerds have ‘sociopathic disorders’.. what-evah’..

    the point is – you sound kinda.. sicko’ in that text. while reading, i was half-way frustrated with the b.s. you were writing, so..

    maybe you should write in more common way.

    this sucks.

    i want my time back… >.

  188. Dude,now I know who that stalker was recently – it was you!

    This was a dead-on article. My exception(s) are; that I enjoy traveling, have zero difficulty in addressing a group when it periodically becomes necessary, and (paradoxically) I absolutely detest games with a passion.

    In the majority however, you were writing about me – and that’s some seriously scary shit right there.

    That was a righteous article however, and now I’m heading over to Amazon to score your book.

  189. Fantastic. I now understand myself. Hopefully my g/f can do the same now…


  190. Devendra 16 years ago

    They’re not funny.

    They think they’re funny because they tell so many jokes to each other.

    But they’re bad, awkward, badly-told, insular jokes that have little or no humour.

    Apart from that, good article.

  191. Jonh R 16 years ago

    That’s simply amazing…It seems like you were just describing me. And that happens in all your articles.

    Seriously I’m never all of those things at once, and sometimes I am not any of them.

    Yet, I am here listening to music, typing some stuff in Messenger. Got two VC++ windows opened, one Dev-Cpp window, firefox with (I think) 23 tabs opened (19 of them I don’t even use anymore), IE’s on with some of your articles and my live-mail window opened, Steam is on for when I get in The Place. TV is on, but no sound. By me there is an opened up PC which is like that for about 4 weeks, since my HD went bazoo and I spent hours trying to fix it, until I realized it really was damaged.

    I just checked I got away from the topic…finishing…

    What you wrote is just awesomely correct, in a very subjectif way, I guess all of us ‘Nerds’ imagined different things while reading your article, yet, they all reached the same point and they all saw them selfs there.

    So I guess you get a big thumbs up and thanks!

  192. i’ve never read a truer article in my life.

  193. Alexandra Saenz 16 years ago

    This describes my boyfriend perfectly.

    He is a mystery at times so thanks for writing this handbook for me.

    Unfortunately he no longer showers me with his fire hose of attention.

  194. Aleksey S. 16 years ago

    This post is mostly accurate for me, minus a few rough edges. For instance, a nerd’s predilection for pre-calculating everything (which, in fact, ends up being accurate most of the time) also stops them from participating in ever-changing conversation.

    For a long time I had this thing where instead of BEING in a conversation and moving WITH it, I went through memorized motions that I thought were going to make it go just like “that other conversation that went well last time I said this”.

    That was a hard habit to unlearn. Things that involve spontaneity, things of any kind that require the nerd to bypass his analytical center and utilize the intuition for making quick decisions, can be quite a problem unless worked on specifically.

    That’s why I believe Aikido to be the physical activity of choice for a programmer to take, because it starts with static, memorable motion and then slowly encourages you to stop using your memory, stop analyzing, and just “move”.

    In addition it is complex and deep, and there’s always something new in it to discover intellectually as well.

    And, of course, nerds always try to kill 5 birds with one stone… in this respect Aikido is great for keeping a healthy posture (which then applies in front of the monitor as well), increasing everyday awareness while driving and walking, preventing carpal tunnel and generally keeping healthy joints and healthy cardiovascular health.

    A very nerd-relevant aspect of it is that it allows you to interact closely with multiple human beings without having to participate in “meaningless banter”. It makes you feel like you’re not being antisocial, without actually requiring you to be “social” in the excruciatingly boring and unproductive sense of the word.

    That, and it looks cool, so when you get real good at it you can make your next project choreographing, filming, and editing your own version of Above The Law. Something like that.

    Just my $2000.00

  195. Feilecan 16 years ago

    Fell in love with my nerd again reading this.


  196. Best.Blog.Post.Ever.

    I have to keep it down, because I’m in the office… but, I’m really thinking about my Projects…!

  197. Great stuff, thanks for posting this. Those who are chafing over nerd taxonomy–the differences between geeks, dorks, and spazzes–may want to check out Just What Kind of Nerd Are You, Anyway?

  198. Sindeez 16 years ago

    Thank you for this!

    My very best friend of 4 years, now roommate is EXACTLY like this…I actually started to play WOW just to hang out with him…knowing little that I would become helplessly addicted.

    It has been difficult for me to remain cool and not to cross signals since his way of communicating and living life in relationships is so different than mine. Your article has helped me so much you have won a reader for life.

  199. Saggi 16 years ago

    It’s me! It’s me!

  200. If someone were to write a blog post about me and my life, it would match this post word for word.

    Best thing I’ve read in a very long time.

  201. I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Pilot V7 Rolling ball pens (the needle point ones, not the retractables). I don’t really know why, but I LOVE those things.

    For pencils, I swear by the Zebra M-301.

  202. that struck something deep inside of me. the world may yet have hope in understanding us.

  203. Big thanks for this from THIS nerd couple who just read this post. Yesterday, I got real pissy. Details are irrelevant really but I was doing a lot of frustrating Google searches to find stuff out pertaining to both Eric and I and getting angry that Eric wasn’t helping.

    So we talked about it. I felt like it’s a necessary chore. Eric saw the task, ok, as a chore too, but saw how to recast it as a “project”.

    Once we did that, we broke it into pieces, I assigned him and he took over bits of the project, and he set up a google doc to share to keep me posted on his pieces of it.

    Issue and anger resolved. Awesome.

    I just bought your book. You rock.

  204. Excellent article – hit the concept on the head! I think we have the same perspective, because I translated this concept down to buying Christmas gifts for your nerd/geek. Here’s the post – “Make a geek’s Christmas merry”.

  205. Just read over your description of a “nerd”, and I think you’ve made a big error. What you’ve described isn’t a nerd; it’s an autistic. And while offering advice for those who have autistic individuals in their lives is possibly helpful, let’s be quite clear that “nerd” and “autistic” are not synonyms.

  206. John R 16 years ago

    Kelly Martin wrote:

    Just read over your description of a “nerd”, and I think you’ve made a big error. What you’ve described isn’t a nerd; it’s an autistic. And while offering advice for those who have autistic individuals in their lives is possibly helpful, let’s be quite clear that “nerd” and “autistic” are not synonyms.

    My friend, I think you are the one who is incorrect. That isn’t the description of an Autistic. There are millions of different autistic types and, of course, I can’t name them all, nor the describe them, but that surely isn’t.

    So I’ll go by topics:

    • Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. – This isn’t quite autistic, they usually live in their own world, that is a fact, but they don’t possess any relation with anything, I believe. They do see things in a different way
    • Your nerd has control issues – Once more, autistics do have this behavior, but, I believe, they do it in a different way. They do it because something in their routine changed, but I really mean a strict routine, not a feature-routine
    • Your nerd has built himself a cave – Do autistics have caves? Do autistics have The High, The Zone or The Place? They do have a Cave, but I believe it is a Mental Cave, because, as it was said, they live in their own world (and this, of course, goes for some of them, because there are autistic causes which we don’t even notice. They don’t have The High (these some I referred to), because they have no greater objective, yet, this doesn’t mean they are unhappy or ‘monsters’ (which they surely aren’t). They do have The Place, their own Place, the place where they aren’t bothered by anyone else
    • Your nerd loves toys and puzzles – Autistics do love puzzles, but (I’m repeating myself) some of them, only. They don’t have their project-way-of-living life, they don’t handle everything according to a certain algorithm, they handle it according to patterns and routines.
    • Nerds are fucking funny – Well, Nerds can or not be funny, I believe, this topic relies on self-personality. No number can determine one’s personality, no number can determine an autistic’s personality.
    • Your nerd has an amazing appetite for information – Well, some Autistics do, some don’t. Nerds, I believe, always do. This is waht defines us the most – our infinite search for knowledge, until we reach a point where we know all we think there is. This is what makes us even be the regular ‘school-nerd’, we want to know, we can know, and we already know something, it is in our personality.

    Reading back all I said, I get to the point that no Nerd is Nerd because this article says it. No Nerd is Nerd because he has this or that characteristics. We are what we are, and we are not a group, but in a world with some many people, some brains think the same because, no matter what they say, people are different, and our ability to do things is different, it is true, some ar more intelligent than others, that doesn’t mean they are nerds.

  207. Nathan Parton 16 years ago

    As many people have already said – fantastic article.

    I found the comments pretty enlightening too – the affinity for cats and the use of parentheses/brackets etc. I also found it quite funny how many nerd-partner’s had posted after being sent the article – I just sent the link to my wife!

  208. As the wife of a nerd (and a “keeper nerd” at that) thoroughtly appreciated your article. I appreciate more that my nerd asked me to read it which is super sweet, but it really has given me an insight that I had previously lacked. Thanks!

  209. Nerd Lover 16 years ago

    This describes my ex-boyfriend almost to a T. Explains a lot. 🙂

  210. Fascinating refutation; I think this may actually be the first time I’ve witnessed someone fisk themselves. Anyway, I’ve commented further in my blog. Cheers.

  211. Sharda Balaji 16 years ago

    My nerd friend sent the link to this post….probably hinting “this is what I have been telling you” 🙂

    Great post!! You got an additional reader for your blog..

  212. Tomato988 16 years ago


    My husband sent this to me. Yes, he’s my nerd. And yes, he’s worth keeping and that’s why I read the whole thing. Hilarious! And insightful!

    However, you did a bad thing. You just validated my random / erratic / crazy behaviors. Can’t have him figuring out all the rules to me, can I?


  213. Martin 16 years ago

    This rocked. Thanks for the laughs.

  214. Brilliant. You, sir, rock!

  215. Matt Fenner 16 years ago

    Exactly like me (except for the eating quick bit) … my girlfriend loved it aswell.

  216. can you please add?

    * nerds like to obsessively collect things (in my nerd’s case books and music gear)

    * nerds are often late (and don’t understand why that’s troublesome for others)

    * nerds jump to conclusions (based on their own internal logic)

    with that said, i love my nerd.

  217. It’s funny ‘cos it’s true!

    Also, check out, the Geek etiquette blog:

  218. Sarah (has a pet nerd) 16 years ago

    “It’s the end of the day and you and your nerd are hanging out on the couch. The TV is off. There isn’t a computer anywhere nearby.” When does this happen?

  219. Eileen 16 years ago

    Most non-nerds who know me think I’m a total nerd, and superficially, I am. I work in IT and software development, I’m on the computer almost all the time outside of work, I wear glasses, and I come across as socially awkward and aloof. But after reading this article, it seems like I’m not really a nerd, at least according to this definition. Mainly, I don’t think of the world as a knowable system, and until recently I hardly ever had projects. My “cave” is cluttered, but there’s no rhyme or reason to the clutter beyond laziness.

  220. Carrie Catlin 16 years ago

    I’ve been married to a nerd (geek) for almost 10 years. This is all so true. I have seen projects come and go. I have been the main project at several different points in our marriage, but I much prefer being multitasked. The great thing about this project mentality is that his ideas aren’t so crazy after all and have afforded us financial security beyond what I ever thought possible. So people need to know that as a companion to nerds they are the sounding board and an important part of making those projects really work. If we tune out they will know it, and may decide that project is irrelevant. Love your nerd and be patient with him and you will find him to be the best kind of man there is!!! Great father, best friend, you can’t beat a nerd!

  221. Charlie 16 years ago

    I’m new to the nerd habits, but most have made me chuckle and nod my head. I can appreciate the article and the comments and look forward to nurturing my very own nerd. Cheers

  222. nobirth 16 years ago

    Awesome. I don’t know if I match up with every line of the article (being web designer in high school and now a corporate lawyer), but that’s more insight into my psyche than all my ex-girlfriends combined ever had 😉

  223. Melanie A. 16 years ago

    For any given piece of incoming information, your nerd is making a lightning fast assessment: relevant or not relevant? Relevance means that the incoming information fits into the system of things your nerd currently cares about.

    One of the biggest irritants of lady nerd life is how often we’re exposed to trivial information, and rebuked as unwomanly if we don’t feign an interest in it. I mean, how many perfectly good cycles go to waste as we attend bridal and baby showers?

    You guys have it way easier.

  224. William 16 years ago

    A nerd didn’t write this. Art of deception!

  225. R. Earl 16 years ago

    Truths! Truths, I tell you! Except, it’s a Macintosh Plus, and Night Elves don’t HAVE levels.

  226. are you a nerd?

    This article has noo evidence to back it up!

  227. If you are “Nerd” – as eloquently described here – you are perfect. Don’t change. Live your nerdiness! Some chicks dig it 😉

  228. Well, I’m a nerd. A blind one, at that. I’ve been for over 6 years. I am now a happy 16-year-old and even my family makes fun of me, and the kids at my school (keep in mind I go to a public, sighted/regular school) do it extra to try to make my days a living hell.

    Or at least, they don’t like making friends with me – Hell, most people see my cae and act like it’ll kill them when I walk bye, including teachers. I think most people are scaired that I’m blind how I’m to do daily shit in general, but once I tell them I’m on the computer and play video games (yes, there are some we can play), they really shy away from me. And when people shy away from me, that makes me shy away from them too, thus them thinking of me as unable to socialize.

    But yeah, cheers to YtCracker blogging about this. I should go twitter about this because, thanks to LoudTwitter, it’ll get posted to my blog. I love being a nerd and being lazy about it.

    I unfortunatly have to play online text based games such as Kingdom of Loathing, Twilight Heroes, Sryth… because WoW is too visual and Blizzard doesn’t give a shit about the small population of blind and visually impaired people.

    Perhaps I’ll have a nerd girlfriend one day, (I know that won’t come from my school), but until she finds my cave I’ll be happily waiting, computing, and gaming within it’s bear, plush White walls; I happen to think that my cave is white with only one window at the right side. Just one, small square that houses my sleeping quarters

    as well as my PC and PS2 and my braille equipment. But, at least I have a somewhat organised cave for being my lazy manor that I am.

    Feel free to email me about messenger info if you wanna chat, no interested in giving it out all here.

  229. Valerie 16 years ago

    I have been married to a geek for 25 years. Sure wish I would have had this info 24 years ago. It would have saved a lot of heartache for both of us. Oh well, better late than never! I can now look forward to the next 25 with great hope 🙂

    To the young Orin: Remeber to hang a “Welcome” sign on your cave.

  230. Valerie 16 years ago

    OOOPS!! I called my nerd a geek…Sorry Honya!

    Love you!

  231. A description of my husband.

    I love that nerd person in my life.

  232. Fantastic observations. Amazingly accurate description of me. I work on my current projects in my cave with my 4 computers. I crave information and love puzzles — anything to solve. I hate wasting time on anything irrelevant, but I don’t know if I’m all that funny.

  233. Don Brooks 16 years ago

    A somewhat different perspective: Top ten reasons why geeks make the best catch —

  234. Cool = Very interesting, 4 m3

  235. cat222 16 years ago

    loved this post – it describes both myself & my husband very well! Although in my case, I eat extremely slowly, rather than quickly – probably because I’m always doing something else (reading etc) at the same time as I’m eating. I think we get along so well because we have similar outlooks on life, even though our specific interests differ. I can’t quite imagine being with someone who approaches life in a ‘regular’ way!

  236. SomeNerd 16 years ago

    Your article is awesome. (I’ll have to buy your book now.)

    Some additions for me personally: I actually don’t mind traveling or giving presentations. In fact, I have started to like doing both (which is just as well as I have to do both of those things regularly).

    However, this does not render those observations in the article invalid. I think the control freak issue is the most important one behind all this. Hence the cave, where you are totally in control (or at least, you like to think so).

    For me, traveling is OK, as long as the trip is at least planned to some extent, so I know what to expect more or less (see, that gives the feeling of control). The same for giving presentations: I still *hate* having to give presentations for which I haven’t been able to prepare well (because, you have less control if you’re not prepared).

    For the same reason, I prefer traveling by car or bike over public transportation. With public transportation, you never know how much you will be delayed, and if it happens, there is nothing you can do about it (no control). In a car, you have the feeling you are in control. Traffic jams notwithstanding – at least *you* are driving, and in addition there is no chance of missing a connecting bus/train/flight for reasons not under your control!

    When riding a bicycle you also don’t have the problems of getting stuck in traffic – however it might rain, which I hate. It seems that for me, rain is the thing that can get me into a seriously bad mood for no good (i.e., rational) reason whatsoever. The reason? Of course, I cannot control whether it rains when I have to be outside..

    So, the particular things that people (err, nerds) hate or that may cause them to blow up for no apparent reason whatsoever may be quite different, but I think the basic issue is that they feel like they have no control over the situation.

    So my advice if you’re anxious of doing anything new for the first time, just ask yourself “what is the worst that could possible happen? Really, that’s all?” Pretend for yourself that you don’t really give a shit and go right ahead, and discover that actually nothing goes wrong usually. And even if it does, who cares? As long as it isn’t something that gets you killed (which I would consider the “absolute” worst for yourself as a person), people will most likely have forgotten all about it by tomorrow lunchtime. Measured against such a scale, most things suddenly seem much more relative and trivial. See things in perspective. The world is not going to end even if this thing you’re trying to do goes wrong.

    Using such an attitude can get you through the first few times you have to do something new. By that time, basically you’ll have developed a mental model of how something works. So you’re back in control (or at least feel like you are). You’ll realize, for example, that giving successful presentations is also “just” a game (a somewhat complex one though) – you must entertain your listeners, don’t allow them to get bored, if that happens nonetheless go back one step and try to see where you lost them, etc. etc. Of course your audience is an even more important factor than yourself – a factor which is not within your control. However, you at least anticipate their likely background to some extent, thus creating a mental model of your audience, etc. etc.

    Given that this “control freak” infliction probably won’t go away, I find that this is a way to deal with things that often seems to work, at least for me.

  237. WTF Over 16 years ago

    Yeah well lol what happens when two nerds get together ha ha. We both have to make projects for each other. I make a project over cleaning the house (tough project). He makes one out of going outside and doing something. And now we have two nerd kids a 3 year old who knows the Star Wars theme song by heart at the age of 2.

  238. sequel_7 16 years ago

    Spot on scary, Rands.

    To 3/4 of the comments…”cool”. I’m thankful I have a Logitech MX Revolution mouse so I can fly past the irrelevant bullshit.

  239. Erika 16 years ago

    Okay. I get all of it etc..

    But riddle me this:

    Where and how does a Nerd reflect on the importance of these three things (in order of importance please).

    1. Food

    2. Women

    3. Sex

    The last is one of the more….confusing for a lot of nerds it seems.

    Some prefer food over sex; some prefer sex over living.

  240. Hi all! I am american man. U have a good site. I love you!

  241. Tanik 16 years ago

    I am one of the nerd wives (who got this article from their husbands). Fortunately, after 2-3 years together I can see the digits and lines of code running through my husband’s eyes when I talk about my day or important plans for tomorrow. I like catching him asking “Where are you now? What are you programming?” He smiles and happily gives me a short description.

    Your article starts very scary (for me). I don’t want to be a “project complete” but was brave enough to finish the article. You actually helped me understand why my husband is still with me after five years: something that I thought was my shortcoming, quirks and significant unpredictability, is actually a good thing here. Now I know that I don’t need to change. 🙂

  242. I literally LedOL at the moving of the Mac Mini. Then I nearly cried at the end. I wish I had time to read all 242 comments, but Tanik’s comment was very touching. It’s so true — life seems to be a series of interesting projects to me. And now I don’t feel bad for not finishing them all!

  243. PeterR 16 years ago

    You missed the biggest point. Take an interest in the nerds project. Even if that interest is pretty superficial.

    Another thing, when nerds say “cool” it means “zero tasks added”. Sometimes we won’t take a hint if we haven’t got into the ‘people interaction’ mode. While some nerds are jerks, most of them simply don’t spot other peoples’ priorities without a subtle hint.

  244. Eileen 16 years ago

    While it’s great that you’re teaching people to understand geeks, you also risk promoting stereotypes and misunderstanding of people who work in geeky fields and seem like stereotypical geeks, but don’t relate to the characteristics you described.

  245. This is wonderful. In fact, this is so wonderful I’m asking your permission to translate it to hebrew (with credits of course), and post it on my blog.

  246. nathan 16 years ago

    In response to what Erika wrote On November 27, 2007 10:16 PM:

    In my opinion as a nerd, the list would be:

    1.Food: Food would have to be first on the list as it is requred for survival but only for reasons of survival.

    2.Women: Women (or any people in that matter) are second on the list as they can often be intelectualy stimulating (most of the time I avoid people as they are confusing and not efficient).

    3.Sex: That leaves sex at the bottom of my list as it has inteliectual stimulation and is not required for survival.

    so the list would heve to be:


    (with none taking a very high priority)

    I hope that answered your question.

  247. nathan 16 years ago

    Correction to my last post

    3.Sex: That leaves sex at the bottom of my list as it has no intellectual stimulation and is not required for survival.

  248. Gosh, it seems to me like the people calling this a description of ‘Asperger’s’ or ‘Autism’ are just demonstrating the tendency people have to confusing symptoms of high intelligence with symptoms of those particular disorders.

  249. I love my nerd (, and I love your writing, thanks! I’ll enjoy more of your blog next time I need to WAB. Meanwhile, as a nerdy editor, I couldn’t resist editing your tagline at the top of yor blog:

    An annoyingly efficient relevancy engine

    A nauseatingly efficient relevancy device

    need I capitalise (on) that? 🙂


    Elise R

  250. My husband’s signed copy of your book resides in The Cave. I once thought I would have a small slice of desk in that room. Now I know it is not to be.

  251. Sounds contriving and soulless.

  252. Partly because of this post, I am now engaged to my nerd. Thanks!

  253. Alison 16 years ago

    This might also be helpful to parents who feel as though they have another species on their hands. Like my gregarious mother who never did understand the resistance she got when she moved me out of my bedroom (my cave, my cave!) to make room for visitors, with whom I then was expected to socialize (people! yikes!).

  254. Now it is official. I am a nerd. hahahah but for the most part, thanks for posting your ideas. For me, it is a wake-up call, a better understanding of how to improve myself being a nerd and all. thanks again.

  255. Brian 16 years ago

    Main problems with such classifications is that they become self fulfilling.

    Funny maybe, but like all things that try to compartmentalise/marginalise people dangerous. A similar example is ‘hoody’ or ‘black’ street youth culture, where the participants take on the trappings of the culture, even though most are more than capable of higher achievements.

    Guess being a ‘Nerd’ gives the participant the same sense of belonging as much as it does the ‘hoody’, or dedicated Muslim/Christian – an innate need to be part of a group (any group).

    Or more simply put – we are pack animals!

  256. Eugenie 16 years ago

    This article is amazingly relevant in our household — a two-nerd married couple :o)

    Even if you are a nerd, there was plenty of food for thought into how to understand and care for the nerd you’re married to.


  257. AppleGrew 16 years ago

    I thought myself as a very different person, very much different from peoples around you, until now. After read your post it seems to me that all nerds are so-so very similar! I guess I don’t have nerds around me, hence I never found anyone as a true copy of me. Your have a very observant mind. You got so-so many unusual things right, like eating fast, the relevance engine, the “one inch deep, but four miles wide” knowledge, the lot of online friends thing, etc. ; you got to be a shrink. Well I differ from you on one point; I don’t see games as you claim nerds see them. I like playing/just watching visually appealing games. Thanks to you now I know what kind of traits I must watch in a person to find someone like me. 😉

  258. James 16 years ago

    I believe that this perspective on the “nerd” can be applied to just about everyone. Therefore, I believe that everyone is a nerd in some way. We all have our quirks, and we all behave in those nerdy ways at one time or another, we just have to accept it. Fortuneately, this article helped me to realize how a nerd works, and how people work in general. You really did your homework on the pyschology of a nerd, and explained it in a way everyone could understand. I like it.

  259. finally….a manual! now the wife can quit complaining when i’m not listening to her talk about her day at work….i don’t get angry when she doesn’t listen to me talking about Active Directory….relevance flag!

  260. I’m definitely sharing this article with my girlfriend and family. If only you had written and published this years ago! It would certainly have saved me a lot of grief.

  261. Thank you. Just, thank you.

    As my friend Jason said:


    Well described. Imagine 15,000 people like that gathered in one area, and you have a basic description of Mountain View, CA.

  262. Wow, This is an excellent article!

    I kind of giggled as I read all the positives and negatives of what a nerd is… and I don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud that there is not a single thing you mentioned that I disagreed with.

    Well written and kudos!

  263. This was absolutly wonderful!!!!

    You described a friend of mine perfectly. This posting was great!!!

    My nerd is flippin awesome so hes good enough to keep around for awhile, and you have done a phenomenal job of helping me to appreciate him just that much better and to stop taking some of his jerky attitude the wrong way.

    Its great, Im getting ready to read the posting about the “nerd cave” cause my nerd apprently has one, and i think i need to understand why. LOL

    Thank You

  264. Great article, describes me pretty good. First time I read this (and the NADD article), I got up and looked around for the camera you had hidden in my house.

  265. Lefty 16 years ago

    This describes me in disturbingly precise detail. You, sir, are me.

  266. 268th disturbed individual realising you have just accurately described them in a single – if lengthy – blog post.

  267. Bill Bradford 16 years ago

    I’m sending this to my wife. I think you’ve been hiding in my house. She even ALREADY USES the term “cave” to describe the room I keep most of the computers and radio gear in.

  268. Patrick 16 years ago

    This is eerily true about me and somehow I get the impression that I’m not the first person to think so….

    Well done.

  269. The only thing I would add is a section on Nerd Families, covering the bits when the two adult Nerds carry on a conversation about two completely different things without noticing each of them is talking about something else, while the Young Nerd(s) not only follow and respond to each separate topic, but have their own unrelated topic going.

    I need to forward this to The Boy’s teacher and grandmother just to make his life a little easier.

  270. This guide is great to tell the neurotypical how to cope with a highly functional autistic nerd in the context of a neurotypical dominated society.

    As to the true nature of us highly functional autistic nerds, we know better.

    Something more specific on Kelly Martin’s blog:


  271. Flawd 16 years ago

    Very nice article! I didn’t even get halfway through it before e-mailing it to my girlfriend. I’m surprised this has been here for over a month and I never saw it. I just got the link from

    Great job!

  272. tba02 16 years ago

    Where’s the printable version? I hate C-n-P-reformat-CTRL+P-ENTER /end_snicker

  273. Shwam 16 years ago

    Absolutely brilliant.

    Some people are inspired by scripture, I think this is my Bible.

  274. RickyT23 16 years ago

    I am a nerd. I become fascinated by things to the point of obsession, then figure them out, then become bored with them!!! 😀

  275. Hi there, i must say i enjoyed very much reading this post. It was sent to me by my nerd boyfriend lol. Most of what you said applies very well to him, but not all. I don’t think he is 100% nerd yet, but he is most certainly a keeper.

    Anyway, as i was saying i enjoyed reading it because it explained to me some bits of his behavior, and i must be prepared to it 🙂

    I wish more gilfirends would read this post also.

    Best regards,

    From Portugal.

  276. An absolutely “spot on” constructive analysis of a nerd.

  277. This outlay on people is about a person that is OCD, not a nerd. While there are tidbits of similarity in function, the actions are all wrong and too stereotyped. Trim the “fanatic obsessive” parts, and you’ll be much closer to the truth.

  278. Kelly 16 years ago

    What a wonderful essay — a real keeper, just like My Favorite Nerd! Thank you.

  279. I’m surpirised at just how accurately I fit into that, maybe not on the social front, I’m quite outgoing, but about 3/4’s is me

  280. I read this entire thing (woah, relevancy!) and at the end thought to myself, “wow, I was just owned.”

  281. my former nerd sent me this as some sort of bizarre peace offering to explain himself…i realize it’s less bizarre as he sent me the link via instant messenger, his favorite form of communication…

  282. Now that I’ve figured out the system by which I am myself constructed, I am no longer interested in myself 🙂 Great post, I loved it and forwarded it off to my whole family (and girl friend especilly.

  283. studman 16 years ago

    So what makes you write this? The main post is what I mean.

  284. Yes! I loved it. I didn’t realize that I’m a nerd.

  285. Dalinae 16 years ago

    If only my family spoke English… They have a hard time viewing non-neurotypical behavior as anything but a problem to be set upon and destroyed and I am simply hard-wired to be a Nerd(-ette).

  286. Gorgeous 16 years ago

    When I walk in the room (i.e., cave), my nerd says “Hello gorgeous.” He also says this to his daughters. He also says to this women he “interacts” with on the internet. For me, “Gorgeous” means “I don’t have time…”

    The partner of a nerd is also an enigma: masochistic, low self-esteem, likely an alcoholic or addict, probably happy to be ignored most of the time, and of course, in denial. No I’m not talking about myself.

  287. B. Bohn 16 years ago

    I think you have a knack for words and described my soon-to-be husband quite accurately. I am outgoing and social and after meeting someone who expresses interest in topics he prefers or enjoys I introduce them and let the conversation commence. I think living with him will be interesting and I hope that me as a Project never ends. I believe being a woman and an emotional one at that will allow this Project to continue for a long while.

    My nerd is the one who sent this to me with the comment that this should help me understand him better. It does and I thank you for writing it.

  288. Aaron 16 years ago

    Wow, that was beautiful.

    As much as I hate admitting the relevancy/irrelevancy bucket issues, I suppose that’s pretty correct. My wife has often commented that if something doesn’t interest me I tend to switch off to it. I had never noticed it before, but I suppose that isn’t surprising. 🙂

    Anyways — nice work; Very poignant.

  289. You know you are married to a nerd when:

    a) you can put his name on top of each line you just wrote ( I actually made mental check marks while reading this….)

    b) time in his world is counted in pixels and in intervals between one new computer program and/or gadget

    c) his love is express by the infinity sign..which is a good thing I guess?:)

    Most of all, I loved reading you. Fantastic article!

  290. Hannah 16 years ago

    This article really helped me understand my boyfriend of 5 years. As I was going down the list of things, I could have sworn that someone had been observing his life and then wrote about it. Now all the silly, seemingly un-understandable things he does make so much more sense!

    Thank you!

  291. Hey YOU!!! You read my mind???

    I can’t figure out if this is just a blog post or a poem. It’s damn kewl man. err…I said kewl –not cool right 😉

  292. justin 16 years ago

    wow! my friend just sent this to me, i just went through a breakup with someone i was engaged to, we were together for about 4 years.. the similarities are uncanny. and like someone else posted, i actually see social interaction as a challenge, there are in fact algorithms that you can apply, and i am actually very good at it now. her friends even commented on how “well behaved” i am, and how i can hold myself in a crowd. you just have to know how to play the game i guess. This tells me perhaps i should try to change /my/ approach to relationships…. but we all know that wont happen. hah.

    and here i thought it was A.D.D.

  293. This is our son, and to a degree, his father. I hope his mother reads the whole thing before before her attention wanders.

  294. Ok, so I’m not going to be able to say anything that hasn’t been said by 250 people before me. But seriously, my boyfriend fell in love with me because he found out that I always carry a gameboy where ever I go. I fell in love with him cause of all the damn doting attention. And then as soon as I hopped on the bandwagon, the guy started exibiting the strangest behavior (cavedwelling, don’t touch his stuff…). Then he sent me this link. Thank you for explaining. No I’m not masochistic, but damnnit if he’s not the man I’m gonna marry. Besides, I know how to play his game. Just build my own cave… 🙂

  295. David Vasta 16 years ago

    WOW, just WOW. That is one hell of an article. That was amazing.

  296. Laura 16 years ago


    I love my nerd! Infact, I recently said yes to his asking me to marry him!

    Thank you for this delicious blog. It so helps to affirm that I am making the right decision right now.

    Being with a nerd is not easy, and you do have to understand your relevance in his world – but the rewards far outweigh the quirks. It also helps to be a bit of a nerd myself.

    Well back to my cave. Enjoy your highs!!!



  297. This describes my nerdy brother to a T and explains a lot. Thanks for helping me understand him better.

  298. I was linked to this via a chain of blogrolling clicks. I have nerd-ish tendencies, but was Married to a nerd for 7 years. We just couldn’t get out of our respective caves I guess.

    Reading this made me smile about our time together, even though the divorce has been a control-issue-laden battle ground for both of us.

    Thanks for the smile.

  299. Ganesh 16 years ago

    Tears in my eyes… may be due to reading this blog without blinking once.. 😉

    It made me feel more normal. Made me comfortable. Helped me understand my behavior. LOL!

    You wrote ‘me’ 🙂


  300. Merryn 16 years ago

    THANKYOU for writing this! And do you know the funniest thing of all is that my “nerd” sent it to me 🙂

  301. nathan 16 years ago

    “there are in fact algorithms that you can apply”

    there are algorithms that can be applied to every part of life, including emotions and other non-tangible things.

  302. That explains it. I met the greatest guy – essentially online of course. So smart, clever, and driven. The humor in his emails never ceased to surprise me. During our online romance we figured out how to make the other laugh out loud and he taught me how to truly embrace my inner nerd (which probably was never all that “inner”). But it eventually died down and I could never figure out where I went wrong, why I couldn’t get him to spend a weekend in bed with me, how we could be clverly texting non-stop one minute and he’d be totally MIA the next. For a while I thought he had a girlfriend. Turns out he has a cave. Guess I was a project. But then again, maybe he was too. How DOES one keep a nerd’s attention?

  303. Hey did you use WordPress for your blog ? 😛

    Nerds: Proud of what he is.

    Geeks: Proud to say that they are proud of what they are.

  304. Loved the article. I have never been invited to the cave but its talked about.I do know its full of Star Wars toys, I mean alot of Star War toys!!!!!!!!! You did not address any sexual problems that occur with the nerd. Anytime I attempt too get close to my nerd he puts up a wall that would make Hadrian jealous. He blushes a lot but when I flirt but he tries to avoid anthing remotely sexual. Please do an article about this subject. He’s not gay but is twice married. I have found what I can do to be a project: I will ask a question that he really has to think about, give him time to process and then ask for his answer and give my own. I get the chance to dazzle him with my brilliance while I bask in his. This usually get him to smile, at least for a while. I also use the newspaper’s crosswords as a seduction tool. I’ll get the paper, fold it towards the crossword, wink and seductively say ” Have you got time for me”. He’ll smile and nod. I could go on forever. Pleas write more articles about this subject.

  305. scarily truthful 🙂

  306. former "bright shiny thing" (wife) 16 years ago

    THANK YOU! my nerd husband of 20 years SENT this to me (although his “cave” is a few feet away!). It is sooooo good to know that I am not alone and now I can have all the friends (mine) that don’t understand read it. The accuracy is astounding and the comments from other nerd wives really help…especially about ‘touching his things’; ‘putting food down in front of him’; and the ‘dust’ factor!!

    Tell the partners that haven’t been around long enough to understand, to hang in…if the nerd let them be the ‘bright shiny thing’ once…hope springs eternal…and he knows that my IQ is (only) several points higher.. so he puts up with my idiosyncrasies..being a little different helps to accept “them”.

    Thanks again!!

  307. shafaq 16 years ago

    Its one interesting article to read,almost sounds convincing but didnt manage to convince me .

    it sounds more like an excuse ;another way of hiding behind a phenomenon making it an excuse of not being able to meet someones expectation in a relationship.

    If this is the discription of a nerd ,then id advice to conduct a survey wid the men in the world and trust me every single one of them wud try and fall in to this nerds category or may be women as well who dont have the will to commit their lives to their loved ones.

    so a very interesting read ,but sounds more like a logical excuse for every short coming !!

  308. How much do I owe you for this counseling session? lol

    Great read!!!

  309. Thankful Girlfriend 14 years ago

    Thanks to your blog i can finally understand my boyfriend. Thank you so much now he actually makes sense.

  310. If you read to the end of the article, you’re a nerd.

    If you’ve read so far that you’re reading *this* comment, you’re probably lobotomised.

  311. chrixko 14 years ago

    Reading this feels strange. It’s like reading a book about me. It’s also strange that so many poeple fit to this explanation.

  312. Efrain Frazell 14 years ago

    Thanks for the Post, thanks for your fine Post. I will come back soon . Great information about ps3 hack: PS3 Hack

  313. Kelly 13 years ago

    I am a female nerd (yes, we do exist). As with any description of any type of person some ways I fit, some ways I don’t. Multitasking is not possible for me, I am mildly autistic and have a very one track brain. That said I get depth rather than width, if I’m not interested I’m not present really. Also, I’m a book nerd and a math nerd before I am a computer nerd. I still have my cave but it is book-lined and sometimes interrupted by my boyfriend watching TV (in the way you described, flicking between channels, which is annoying to me). Thanks to the way my brain works I also have porta-cave functionality.

  314. Andrew Strackbein 13 years ago

    This article was word for word a description of my life. It made me feel more connected to the universe and less excluded for having Aspergers syndrome. I feel like 80% of this writing is an articulate description of how I behave on my own, with friends, on the computer, and with information in general. This is incredible writing and I owe a lot to the author for piecing together this for me.

    Thank you!!!

  315. Shayne Fitzgerald 13 years ago

    Considering that my cave consists of a desk in a shoddy boarding school, I’d say I’m almost word for word, an embodiment of this article. I loath and love puzzles, I love reading, (I’ve been reading since age 3) and Information…..Oh my god. I have a weird way of remembering EVERYTHING that I see/hear/think/learn/feel/etc. And yes, I see it like a system. But my social side is different. I operate like the others to disguise myself from being perceived as a Nerd. (Its bad enough I have red hair, but look nothing like the stereotypical Ginger.) I throw stuff around in my room at home, but I know where every little scrap of paper is.

    Living with several other boys (Two are Chinese that can hardly speak English) and being put under a military regimen has dulled that side of me. So, to answer the question on all the non-Nerd’s minds, Yes, we can change, Its just quite near impossible (Unless you throw them into boot camp :] )




  316. Bryan Elliott 13 years ago

    While a lot of it seems to be accurate for a large number of people considered nerds, the assumption of knowability is essentially false for any nerd that has sought to understand quantum physics, statistics or politics. That’s not to say modelling is impossible, but it does demonstrate that systems exist for which a model will never be a mold.

    This can be potentially dangerous, in both directions (non-nerd reading this article, and nerd with incomplete model), in that humans, in general, are likely to get flatly pissed off when a partially accurate model containing potentially insulting attributes is unquestioningly applied to them.

  317. Moroni Pickering 13 years ago

    I very much enjoyed this article. Unfortunately I will not be able to share it due to the vulgar language (which seems very out of place given the mostly intellectual non-emotional topic…)

  318. It’s very nice (more than a little) to know that I’m not the only one out there who is like this. Thank you for putting this in print. Now I need to get my wife to read this…after she stops being mad at me for being a jerk again. Argh.

  319. Best thing I’ve ever read (along with The Cave and NADD post), seriously.

  320. Although I am a total Nerd, I got over most of the “problems” described here (I wouldn’t call them problems, but that is the name society has given it), yet I have to say that it fits me well. And the comments are as interesting as your text is

  321. Kat Von D Makeup 13 years ago

    Nerd is not a sin. So, with your articles, people should know that nerd is unique and special person.

  322. Snettsblog 13 years ago

    Okay, that is a great depiction of a typical nerd. Nerds have had and still have a tough time adjusting themselves to deal with the dazzling fonts that describe the world as it is. However, times are changing and nerds being very fast learners are adapting and or creating their own systems to deal with the issues they face. Great article – an every nerds handbook.

  323. Nerd is not a weakness. Thanks for good article. Hope to see more soon.

  324. altın çilek 13 years ago

    While a lot of it seems to be accurate for a large number of people considered nerds, the assumption of knowability is essentially false for any nerd that has sought to understand quantum physics, statistics or politics. That’s not to say modelling is impossible, but it does demonstrate that systems exist for which a model will never be a mold.

    This can be potentially dangerous, in both directions (non-nerd reading this article, and nerd with incomplete model), in that humans, in general, are likely to get flatly pissed off when a partially accurate model containing potentially insulting attributes is unquestioningly applied to them.

  325. … but I don’t like computers that much. How about books? They’re primitive storage devices. Right?

  326. Pedro 13 years ago

    This was actually dead on… I never thought about why I do the things I do, but it makes sense.

    Thank You

  327. Interesting post. I enjoyed it very much! Thanks. Please keep doing the good things that you are doing now. Dane Willitzer

  328. Mathew Pierce 13 years ago

    Great post! I wish this was available 20 years ago when I started my career but better late than never 🙂 Now to get my wife to understand it and buy into it; once she knows how to effectively drive me we’ll REALLY be able to get some work done! 🙂

  329. Interesting piece but impossible to read because of the constant “he”. I know you disclaimered it at the beginning, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get through.

  330. Shmore 13 years ago

    Give a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth.

  331. jadon 13 years ago

    ah so i am a nerd

    a lower level nerd but still



  332. Chris 13 years ago

    “Your nerd spent a lot of his younger life being an outcast because of his strange affinity with the computer.”

    Are you sure it’s because of his strange affinity for the computer or because of his dismissing other people as irrelevant?

    If he did this to potential friends:

    “…and you’re giving your nerd the daily debrief. ‘Spent an hour at the post office trying to ship that package to your mom, and then I went down to that bistro — you know — the one next the flower shop, and it’s closed. Can you believe that?’

    “And your nerd says, ‘Cool’.

    “Cool? What’s cool? The business closing? The package? How is any of it cool? None of it’s cool. Actually, all of it might be cool, but your nerd doesn’t believe any of what you’re saying is relevant. This is what he heard, ‘Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…’

    “You can be rightfully pissed off by this behavior — it’s simply rude — but seriously, I’m trying to help here…”

    then he rejected them first with his simply rude behavior to them, not the other way around.

    “…I think living with him will be interesting and I hope that me as a Project never ends. I believe being a woman and an emotional one at that will allow this Project to continue for a long while.”

    Best of luck! Also, you two should put this Project business into your prenup, just in case you as a Project does end if he finds another project (an online community of people cheering on anti-emtional rhetoric; a younger, perkier woman, whatever).

    “…Our youngest loves horses, has her own horse, and spends little time indoors. I would love to find a way to make my husband learn to express at least mild interest in her life even though it isn’t something he cares about, his aloofness can be very hurtful at times to a little girl who thinks her Dad is the smartest guy in the world…”

    *Tell* him that, then ask him whether or not he gives a damn that some of his behavior was very hurtful at times to a little girl who thinks her Dad is the smartest guy in the world. Will he give a damn and feel ashamed that he did something to hurt a person who loves him and needs parental care from him? Will he not give a damn and proudly dismiss her for being “neurotypical”? Will he respond some other way? Ask, and find out, and best of luck to *all* your daughters!

  333. d8beat 13 years ago

    YOU’RE A GOD!!!!! I was nodding along to every sentence you wrote! It describes me perfectly!!

  334. BlackRAt 13 years ago

    A four year old article, and still state of the art.

    Great work man.

  335. Champers 13 years ago

    Besides that I agree with some reply’ers that I find the term “geek” more applying here than the term “nerd”, I also agree with others that this is an incredibly accurate description of a person with High Functioning Autistic syndrome (such as Asperger’s Syndrome).

    Nice article !

  336. This article can and probably does apply for most of us with Asperger’s Syndrome, but i really think you need to recognise that that’s us Becoming geeks and nerds to make the most of the condition, using what it enhances in us to compensate, as best we can, for what it denys, whether we do it consiously or not. and at costs too often beyond us.

    I found this article through another Asbe friend, and after years of self improvement projects, so while i Do have the behaviours, they’re more or less under control… at least the one’s i’ve had as Projects.

    But my book list definately grew a few spaces after i found it.

  337. Read it and realized that the rest of my future rests living with a cat…

    I am so screwed (socially).

    I haven’t figured women out, declared them the variable of the species and moved on.

    Utterly screwed.

    Oh well. Back to work…

  338. I am proud to be a nerd. And you should have a look at my girlfriend. You too, you will be proud to be a nerd 😉

  339. Ian Donovan 12 years ago

    Wow. Just read this again and realized that I am currently chasing a new High with Magic:The Gathering. It was Pokemon then World of Warcraft then League of Legends and now a card game. Oh yeah 5th grade it was Yu-GI-Oh. And i eat at lightspeed compared to my family and i love my cave and…I think you get the picture.

    Love this site and all you do. Keep It UP!

  340. Ian P 12 years ago

    I wondered if I was an Aspie at one stage, but my ability to read other’s emotional states made it less likely. I’d done a Myers-Briggs personality test a few years ago and remembered how well INTP described me.

    Describes me to a tee.

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  346. Fantastic informativ publish. Thank U for assisting details. Lookin’ ahead for ur following report. Cheers

  347. I’m a bit late commenting, and hope this won’t be seen as a personal attack, as the article is about no one in particular.

    My sweet “nerd” sent this to me, and I feel compelled to add a few points from the other side of the fence, as there seems to be mostly echoing from the happily relatable choir.

    I would also like to state right upfront that I, myself, am a nerd of a different hue — many of the traits you describe come much more naturally to me (very likely on the A spectrum) than to the “nerd” husband who sent this my way — but I am also a woman, friend, sister, daughter, wife and mother. I don’t agree that this behavioral description fits the behavior of most other she-nerd/mothers, like myself, nor any mature adult who’s grown beyond the self-absorption that makes him prone to blatantly inconsiderate and purely selfish indulgences.

    Most of us she-nerds don’t have the luxury of disappearing into caves or ignoring anything that doesn’t ring our relevancy bells, nor would we want to, given the expense to those who love us so well (god knows the rest of the world often doesn’t). After all, we are happily (most of the time) providing great interest and listening ears to our families. And thank goodness, because it’s absolutely essential to healthy relationships and self images.

    Have you ever met a child with a “daddy/mommy ins’t interested in me” complex? And yet there is the slightest hint that you guys can semi-easily condone (or at least want it pardoned as cute and amusing) disregarding those around you if it comes attached to a “nerd” personality.

    The particular interests and love of projects/systems/methods of the nerd really resonate and are well explained, for sure (and I certainly enjoy your writing style, and blog, by the way). However, the person described in the *behavior* of this every-nerd (whatever his particular interests or inherited challenges), is less a description of a nerd and more a description of a self-absorbed man-child who, quite frankly, needs to get over himself and grow up a bit.

    He is likely also due a hefty dose of *demonstrated* gratitude for the people around him who’ve chosen to love him, in spite of his blind self interest. He would do well to honor this love by treating them with a bit more respect, consideration, and heck, even enthusiasm (or at the very least, the absence of disregard) for what moves *them*, however mundane or irrelevant he may initially find these topics. He should do this particularly if they are his wife and, in the name of Apple, especially if they are his children. He should do this completely regardless of the nerd-inherited, internal struggle presented to him in so doing (such struggles, despite their cute origins, being little more than the mental tantrums of a mind not getting it’s way). I mean, enthusiasm for topics that fall outside one’s current/primary interests is one of the essential hallmarks of emotional maturity (and a robust intellect), is it not?

    Further, a lot of the inconsiderate, unaware behavior described strikes less as “nerd” behavior and, more simply, as stereotypically male behavior, akin to the classic image of the sports-obsessed man childishly ignoring the rest of his life (a stereotype which, when promoted as truth, has never served us to any healthy or productive ends.)

    Something additionally troubling to me is the truck load of self-congratulatory ( narcissistic? ) “this is me!”, “get out of my head!” type comments. Guys, you are clearly quite proud of yourselves, but ignoring your loved ones’ musings when they don’t fall in line with your current projects, spending hours away from your families to hide in your caves, refusing to leave a hotel room on vacation at the expense of your co-travelers, muddying your home environment with constant gadget-obsession or noisy channel surfing, and then lazily falling back on your nerdiness as justification for these behaviors (especially when some have very real conditions from which they have to work very hard to *successfully* avoid some of these undesirable behaviors) is decidedly NOT admirable. not even a little bit. Nor is it cool (after all, “cool” is what most of us mean when we proclaim ourselves “nerds” — we are labeling ourselves with the prized title we find most admirable among our respected peers, right?)

    Thankfully, my “nerd” (complete with all requisite interests) is also a wonderfully fair, considerate, responsible, nurturing person who cares about the needs and feelings of those who love him (qualities which are completely impossible to lack while succeeding as a competent parent/spouse/friend/co-worker/human being), but such are the adult gifts we lovenerds have donated to our marriage. I see now how truly lucky we are?

    I will continue to hope for the rest of you that this behavioral description, and the eager willingness of so many to superimpose it onto your self-images, is a bit tongue-in-cheek?

  348. Bojan Landekić 11 years ago

    You know, your article is quite insultive! By your logic, Vi Hart isn’t a nerd because she doesn’t use monospaced fonts all the time, but cares about such silly things as colour!

    By your logic Steve Jobs wasn’t a nerd because he cared about rounded rectangles, instead of a green text on a black background type of display.

    You are wrong. Nerds of today don’t follow anything what you have written. The nerds you describe are dying off, alone, in their caves. Because they failed to be REAL nerds. They failed to do what all software does. When a piece of software gets old, nerds update that software with NEW code. And these nerds, because they are REAL nerds, they apply the same logic to their own life style. When their behaviours are old and stale and lead nowhere, they update them and become socially acceptable, they use fonts, they use transparent windows, they use pretty flowers as desktop wallpaper to show their respect for the environment.

    Your article is down right discriminative. Nerds build datacentres that don’t require A/C equipment! Nerds do all sorts of things that have style far beyond what your article suggests.

  349. Just perfect guide to understand a NERD.

    Do u think Nerds are Born or are they Made?I think they are Born.What do u think?

  350. Lots of overlap between “nerd” and “introvert.” Your thesis seems to be the main difference between the two is “nerds” have an affinity for computers. This is a fun read but it’s a pretty lousy essay because the thesis is so weak.

  351. Jorge Guillemette 11 years ago

    Hey, I have thought about getting the software DubTurbo Beatmaker and was hoping anybody could give me an actual genuine testimony of the software. Numerous sites that provide you with product evaluations are really affiliate sites endorsing the software package and so i question that the reviews are sincere. Thanks in advance for just about any information any one can provide.

  352. This article is wrote for me. Thanks

  353. Phaek Bob 10 years ago

    “This is what he heard, ‘Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…’

    You can be rightfully pissed off by this behavior — it’s simply rude —”

    Oh, but it’s NOT rude when a non-geek tunes out when we are trying to explain – and in simple terms, mind you, how fragmentation occurs and why defragmentation speeds up a slow computer and is a necessary thing and you see that their eyes are glazed over and as your voice trails off, they look at you with that retarded blank look that non-techs get and says, “Huh?”

    No. THAT isn’t rude at all.

  354. wierd Fred Nerdowitz 10 years ago

    Hi, my name is X and I am a nerd. I’m also a social media outcast because that stuff is toi mundane and quite frankly stupid. I have to admit that I’m a strange extrovert (yes, I am very gregarious when I interact. Stuff that comes out of my mouth is just very nerdy) so I can deal with new people IRL when I want to but I rarely do…

    Yeah, people are just things to figure out…

  355. Excellent, excellent, excellent article.
    I was born in ’71, but I’m a completely different nerd, e.g., I have 3 monitors in my cave… See? completely different.

  356. Christine Goodness (SLCharmayne Brentley) 9 years ago

    You have completely described my Nerd to me. Right now I am frustrated because he is working on a long term project, and I am no longer his bright shiny new toy. He shuts himself off outside on the patio, smoking and working on his project. I am allergic to smoke so he is completely safe from interruptions, veiled by his screen of smoke. He works 18 to 22 hours on this project every day all day, most of the night. Guess Ii have to learn to grin and bear it.

  357. Stephanie 8 years ago

    In reference to your knowledge of She Nerds – why not write the article as a gender-less piece? The use of gender-less pronouns would have certainly worked throughout.

  358. Nigel Austin 8 years ago

    really cool, now I understand all that awkward behavior

  359. Nicole 7 years ago

    I always considered myself a nerd (and was proud of it) but this article sums it up quite nicely. Many of your points are very accurate but my friends are more into computers than I am. I also find food to be irrelevant and I only eat because I’m more efficient on a full stomach. Looking back, I also found that I treat things like projects and get the ‘High’ you were explaining.
    The difference, I think, is that, though I love math and science, I also love art (I’m an architecture student).
    Also, I multitask everything, like you mentioned in your article. Ever since I can remember, I would read on average 8 books at a time. And whenever I watch TV, my mother always yells at me that I have too many screens in front of me (TV, phone, and laptop).

    Anyway, I loved reading your article and I intend to send it to my nerd and non-nerd friends.