There is a lot of vocab misuse around the web, and especially in webdesign, online marketing and other areas. This does not usually disturb me in any way and I couldn’t care less, but recently it has caused me hassle, so I am having a big rant about it.
Some may take it personally, but there’s no need – it’s an observation and I feel the need to be pedantic today so indulge me.
This rant comes from me needing to find other programmers, dev people, researchers in computer science and so forth. To cover them all, I typed in “Geek” in the Twitter directories and found myself swamped with…well not the types of people I was looking for at all, but rather a lot of computer users. People who use computers for their jobs and like the Internet. When I look for those, I don’t find computing people popping up.
Are you really a geek?
Geek vs Nerd Vs Dork:
Geek: “The term now enjoys a special status within the technical community, particularly among particularly knowledgable computer programmers. To identify oneself as a “geek” indicates a recognition that most people still consider programming computers to be a bizarre act, along with a certain fierce satisfaction in being very good at their inglorious profession.” (Urban dictionary)
“The chief characteristic of a Geek is that they focus on an understanding and interaction with these metaphors, created by peoples intellect, above understanding of the thing itself. Essentially, a geek focuses on rules and systems that represent a thing, rather then the thing itself. We found that this hypothesis explained a lot about peoples use of the word Geek”. (Escapist Magazine)
Nerd: A socially awkward person who has learned technical skills due to the spare time they enjoy from being generally neglected. (Urban dictionary)
“Someone who just uses their computer for work, but doesn’t spend their free time “on line” is not a geek. Most geeks are technically adept and have a great love of computers, but not all geeks are programming wizards. Some just know enough unix to read mail and telnet out to their favorite MUD.” (Downlode)
“A nerd is a person with no social skills, usually obsessed with science or technology (geek is more computer specific). ”
Dork: “A person who, although also socially awkward, doesn’t have the intelligence to fill the void with technical pursuits, like a nerd, and is forced to do mindless activities. Almost always alone. Usually with an XBox”. (Urban dictionary)
“Nerds are frozen lakes with hidden depths of knowledge and Geeks are frothing rivers of information. If you want to have a conversation with someone where you’ll probably laugh while learning something new, talk to a Geek. If you want to truly understand a subject in great detail skip the Geek and go straight to a Nerd”.
Hacker vs Cracker:
Hackers are good: “The term hacker tends to refer to the more programming intense set of the geek crowd.”
“To program a computer in a clever, virtuosic, and wizardly manner. Ordinary computer jockeys merely write programs; hacking is the domain of digital poets. Hacking is a subtle and arguably mystical art, equal parts wit and technical ability, that is rarely appreciated by non-hackers.” (urban dictionary)
Cracker: “A cracker is someone who breaks into someone else’s computer system, often on a network; bypasses passwords or licenses in computer programs; or in other ways intentionally breaches computer security. A cracker can be doing this for profit, maliciously, for some altruistic purpose or cause, or because the challenge is there. Some breaking-and-entering has been done ostensibly to point out weaknesses in a site’s security system”. (SearchSecurity)
Regardless of all the above:
A perfect ultimate geek and hacker example is my friend Jason who on his first day at work for a large tech company got annoyed with the OS and wrote his own instead. Or Jackson who can program in any language and knows a scary amount about all sorts of complex AI, graphics, speech systems and more.
I’m not a hacker, I’m a plain programming cobbler. I’m not a cracker (although I was by accident one time). I am a geek. I’m not a nerd. And I’m not a dork (xbox indeed). I’m also a person who is unique and wonderful.
“Geek” has become bastardised these days because we have music geeks, sports geeks, book geeks and so many more. The term is changing no doubt as language is so fluid. This is no bad thing and a natural evolution of the term. Regardless of this, I insist that the correct terminology be used. My terminology.
Please tag yourself up accurately according to my definition so I can find the people I’m looking for. Thank you.