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Nerd or Geek? Which side do I sit on?

By johnboy 20 April 2005 23

I went to register at tonight. If I had my life together I’d have been able to frolic through linuxy goodness all through the day but instead I had to get just a taste and scurry off. Hopefully other days will bring other joys and the final Saturday will certainly be able to enjoy my full attention.

Walking into the Manning Clarke complex at ANU I was first struck by all the laptops. The hallway was filled with couches and (mostly) men on the couches with laptops, many of them were showing small crowds what they were doing on their laptops.

Apple were clearly ascendant.

My own 12” iBook is currently on order (might arrive next week) and even if it had arrived this week I doubt i’d have had time to get a linux dual boot on by now. In any event, without a laptop I had no chance of fitting in. Even worse I was not wearing the conf uniform of jeans and t-shirt. Work shirt (with french cuffs worse luck) and suit pants were not an “in” look.

I found the information desk and (after producing photo ID) was gifted a pass and, on request, a schedule.

The pass decribes me as “a mysteriously allegorical analysis” which might be intended as an insult but I intend to wear as a red badge of courage on behalf of all the mysterious allegorists of the world. It also contains what looks like login information for a wireless network (I could be wrong)

Under my description is a cryptic line

$jed ‘which bash’

That brings up an empty jed screen on RiotACT’s server (but how did they know we use the relatively obscure jed?).

Having got my pass I wandered into the lecture theatre.

A quiz show was in session. The two teams were called “nerds” and “geeks”. The master of ceremonies was a pudgey brit in a sequined emerald jacket. The contestants were apparently uber-geeks of some description but I’d missed the start.

The quiz involved something about programming languages, and challenges from the competing teams included such gems as “How can you say bash and csh are too similar when you allowed C and C++???”

I got at least half the jokes everyone else was laughing at.

People sometimes questioned if the programming languages being quoted were, in fact, real. No-one at least claimed to have written it themselves that morning.

This hilarity (and I’ll confess to enjoying the atmosphere and *gasp* the pretty girls in the room) soon wound up with victory being erroneously awarded to one side and then, after a re-count was demanded, another.

It was now time for BOFS.

OK, what the freak are BOFS?

Hundreds gathered around a notice board, and so I did likewise. Hmmm. “Birds Of A Feather” There was one on electronic music in theatre 3.

I walked in, some guys were clustered in a corner watching a laptop at work. A guy was sitting behind the front desk and asked me what I wanted to listen to. Ummm, no preference. He put on a loop of doof doof doof. A particularly uncool nerd couple came in and complained that they’d been expecting music. I waited ten minutes and nothing happened apart from a particularly nerdly conversation.

“Is that [insert forgettable name of doof practitioner]”
“Why yes it is, do you know which album?”

This is nerd one-upmanship at its finest.

After ten minutes of inactivity I decided I really had to be getting on.

I did a couple of laps of the crowd, mostly people deciding if the Wig and Pen or the Phoenix was a better bet, and then walked out into exactly what I’d come there for.

A guy was dressed up in a virtual reality rig with a laptop strapped to his back, a satellite communications pillar rising over his shoulder, and a small toy plastic gun in his hand.

A game of Quake was being interlaced with the real world around him and he was trying to shoot monsters as they leapt out of the undergrowth of ANU at him.

A crowd was following around behind him watching his torments on the laptop screen on his back.

Unfortunately it seems Canberra has inadequate satellites (?) so he could only stand on the spot.

More adventures to follow.

P.S. Word has it that Andrew Tridgell was sighted gathering supporters and legal advice. His keynote is tomorrow. Hopefully I can get someone to report it.

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23 Responses to
Nerd or Geek? Which side do I sit on?
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meas 6:17 pm 21 Apr 05

i love nerds and geeks. There’s something about those glasses with reflections of computers in them that just makes me hot!

nerdvana 5:30 pm 21 Apr 05

My understanding (and operational belief) is that a Nerd knows a whole bunch of esoteric knowledge. A geek knows what to do with that knowledge. Hence why nerds can cross over to being geeks – someone who needs an answer asks them a question, and gets the answer they wants.

RandomGit 1:40 pm 21 Apr 05

The difference to me is that Nerds are socially inept Geeks. I’ve also noticed that most nerds cross over a couple of years into a professional career.

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