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Whether you're a geek, or a nerd, the times sure have changed, for the better. Thanks to the rapid advancements in technology, and the wild success of the geeks and nerds that created the new tech, the stigma attached to belonging to either or both groups has faded. People actually take pride now in being a nerd or geek. There's even a show called Nerd Court.
However, as the terms have lost their pejorative focus, each has begun to be understood a little bit differently. Also, nerds are no longer as thirsty for revenge, and neither are geeks, for that matter. But, we're still not at the point where someone who doesn't self identify as a nerd or geek will accept being called one as a compliment. Also, the related term "dork" still retains a pejorative context.
What's the Difference?
The differences between geeks and nerds are nuanced. Everyone knows that both geeks and nerds are smart individuals who tend to be a bit overly focused on a particular subject so that it takes over their personality. Typically, the type of nerd or geek a person is precedes the term, i.e. legal geek, video game nerd, car geek, computer nerd, etc...
Generally, the distinction is drawn between whether someone is a fan or professional in their subject of interest. Geeks are fans, nerds are practitioners. For instance, if you really enjoy reading about IP issues, but practice PI, you're an IP geek. But if you also really enjoy PI issues, you're also a PI nerd. A person can be both a geek and a nerd, and that's just awesome. Also, just because a person is athletic, it doesn't mean they're not a geek or nerd, though it may seem odd to call a professional athlete a sports nerd, and a sports fan a sports geek.
Basically, geeks take a less serious, more pleasure seeking approach to their subjects of interest, while nerds seek to gain expert level knowledge of their subjects, and may even be able to leverage their knowledge and skills into a career.
What About the Dorks?
Unfortunately for the nerds and geeks out there, one term still seems to get bandied about as a pejorative: dork. Dorks share the same positive qualities of being intelligent and highly interested in a particular subject, but are unfortunately also known for being socially inept, beyond just being socially awkward.
So which one are you? Feel free to reach out on Twitter or via Facebook to let us know.