Subject: nerd / geek
Culture: American / global
Setting: academia, tech
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Anderegg 2007 p20
"Wikipedia tells us that a nerd is 'a stereotypical or archetypal designation.' It 'refers to somebody who passionately pursues intellectual or esoteric interests such as books and video games rather than having a social life, participating in organized sports or other mainstream activities. The Merriam-Webster definition is an 'unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.'"
"[...] The terms 'nerd' and 'geek' are practically synonymous in some contexts and slightly differentiated in others. Since there is really no such thing as a nerd or a geek, we can't do what many scientists do: We can't find the prototypical member of the species and then use that prototype to define all the central characteristics. We can't really answer with any finality the question about whether nerds and geeks are really two variants of the same thing, like Baltimore and northern orioles. In fact, we might observe that this is, in itself, a geeky question."
* Nugent 2008 p10-11
"The linguist Mary Bucholtz has observed that some contemporary high-school students who consider themselves nerds cleave so tightly to American Standard English, even as popular white kids cultivate hip-hop affectations, that they engage in what she called 'hyperwhiteness' -- whiteness so white it destroys the aura of normality that usually attends white people. The history of the concept of nerdiness helps show some of the ways we have thought about the primitive, the 'Oriental,' white people, Jews, nature, and the machine.
"'We' here does not mean 'Americans.' Rosie Shuster, Lorne Michaels, and Elvis Costello -- two Canadians and an Englishman -- all made their mark on the history of the nerd at the same pivotal moment. Tokyo is the city where otaku, a type similar to the American nerd, has its own neighborhood, Akihabara, known for waitresses who dress as manga characters. In England, the word boffin has been around for centuries. Theories about the fine differences in meaning between geek, dork, and nerd in Silicon Valley and other tech hives are all over the Internet, but, internationally, the nerd/otaku/geek/dork is a concept that involves: loneliness; the rote, mechanical nature of work in the industrial and postindustrial ages; the way modernity allows the body to fall into disuse; and the way contemporary mass media invite people into voyeuristic relationships with simple fictions and numb them to the pleasures of real life. To understand nerds is to enrich our understanding of many demons."
Costume (Glasses, Shirt)
* Nugent 2008 p11
"Beyond the traits that fit into an intellectually defensible definition of nerd, a nerd aesthetic. You know it when you see it: the indestructible-looking but nonetheless largely destroyed glasses, the pair of pleated shorts that exposes thigh, the childlike laugh, the intense self-seriousness. These are the universally acknowledged symptoms, and it's worth tracing how they come together in a chain of pop-culture images."