Understanding Your Nerd

Posted by on Mar 7, 2008 in Culture, Technology | No Comments

Nerds and geeks are not really from some far off universe brought here and left by aliens eons ago. We’re just wired a little different. If you live with or love a geek do them and yourself a favor and bookmark and read The Nerd Handbook. Some of the insights you could glean includes:

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 own 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 …

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