All the nerds are in one place this week at SXSW, but, let's face it, we all have a little bit of nerd in us. These days geekdom is large and diverse enough for everyone. Where do you fit in?
There are certain things that all geeks have in common: an intense interest in a very specialized field, fervent enthusiasm for a set of hobbies, a group of other people who share their obsessions, and probably a little bit of social awkwardness. Sure, there are people who fit these stereotypes exactly, but there are enough permutations and substrata of each of these categories that there has to be some leeway. And some people combine traits and interests from a number of these worlds into one big ball of übernerd. But deep down inside, you know which way your dilithium crystal crumbles. Embrace it! Enjoy it! Nerds have already taken over Hollywood. One day they'll conquer the globe!
Description: The most influential of the bunch when it comes to pop culture, this group has pretty much taken over the entertainment business. They love anything related to comic books, superheros, galaxies far far away, fantasy worlds, alien invasions, or Sigourney Weaver in space. Without them, blockbusters wouldn't have monster opening weekends, Fringe would have no viewers, and Batman would have no fans. Not only do they obsessively collect the books, DVDs, and figurines related to their favorite titles, they often dress up in their costumes in the hopes of becoming the characters themselves.
Substrata: Comic Nerds, Trekkers, LAIR revelers
Gathering Place: San Diego Comic Con
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: The life and many deaths of Jean Grey
Eagerly Anticipating: Iron Man 2
Description: These are the power players in the business world because they have the most money. This is the guy who needs the latest gadget, can configure your computer in a snap, and actually bothers to read the instruction manual that comes with a digital camera. He probably has at least a little knowledge of computer programming, optimizes his web browser to do absolutely everything for him but fix his fancy coffee, and could probably take over the whole world with nothing but an iPhone and a maniacal laugh. Whether he's a Mac or a PC, he is all nerd.
Substrata: Computer geeks, Cell phone wizards, Hackers
Gathering Place: Apple Keynote
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: Google Chrome
Eagerly Anticipating: Hello! iPads come out April 3!
Description: You can't mess with the original. These are the chemists, engineers, physicists and other general crazies who are more comfortable in the controlled confines of the lab than in the messy, messy real world. However, they are responsible for the food we eat, the cars we drive, and the drugs we take—even sometimes the illegal ones. Without them, we'd still be using stone wheels and struggling to start a campfire with a flint. They are our saviors, but total bores at dinner parties.
Substrata: Mathematicians, Pharmacologists, Bio Researchers
Gathering Place: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: You wouldn't even understand it if we told you. Idiot.
Eagerly Anticipating: When the Large Hadron Collider finally works
Description: They think they're cooler than you, but they're just as geeky as all the other castes. Rather than just being a hipster into the newest and hottest bands and changing their tastes according to the zeitgeist, this person is also a fiendish collector of a certain genre of music. Whether it's late American bluegrass, German opera, early East Coast hip-hop, or Baltimore booty house, they have a finely tuned and exhaustive collection and scoff at anyone who never heard of whichever undiscovered "genius" they're researching.
Substrata: Pick a genre, from disco to classical guitar, and it has its own snob
Gathering Place: Coachella
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: Where to find original vinyl
Eagerly Anticipating: Sex
Description: This nerd has decided to use his brilliant mind for evil, not good, and gotten into the political game. He has been in more legislative bodies than female ones, and knows all the key players in all of them. There is not one minute detail of parliamentary procedure, voting district, or legislative record that he has overlooked. He lunches with lobbyists, suppers with strategists, and drinks with demagogues. They keep Meet the Press in business and fall asleep with the CNN crawl running through their little heads.
Substrata: All that matters is Republican or Democrat. Got that, Nader?
Gathering Place: K Street
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: The losing vice presidential candidates of the 20th century. Estes Kefauver, anyone?
Eagerly Anticipating: June 8th, of course. It's the midterm primary election in 10 states!
Description: These are the people who live and die by video games of course. They play interactive Halo with strangers online, twist and twirl Mario on screen until their retinas bleed, and engage in strange Pokemon battles on our roof. They have a special place in their entertainment console for their Playstation, Wii, XBox, Game Cube, Classic NES, rescued Sega Genesis, and thrift store Atari. When not in front of a TV they play on hand-held devices in the car and on the subway. No, video games aren't just for kids anymore. The kids grew up and became nerds.
Substrata: Based mostly on which genre they like best: sports games, platformers, role playing, and the like
Gathering Place: E3 Expo
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: Cheat codes for Dante's Inferno
Eagerly Anticipating: It's going to be a long wait until Halo Reach this fall.
Description: This guy can fall into any of the other classifications listed here, but is also gay. He's too nerdy for mainstream gay culture and too gay for mainstream nerd culture, so he is all alone except for the other lost souls he meets over the internet who share an interest in the games, comics, slashfic, and other goodies created just for them. There are some nerdy categories specific to gay culture, but many homosexuals have an affinity for sci-fi.
Substrata: Gaymers, Show Queens, Madonna Maniacs, Grindr Gurus, LGBT Activists
Gathering Place: Manhunt
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: Shirtless scenes on Battlestar Galactica
Eagerly Anticipating: The next Fanboy of the Month
Description: Many might not consider this rabid sort of sports fan a nerd, but he displays all the traditional behavior of one. He has minute statistics memorized, he dresses funny for special events, he probably hasn't scored in a long time, and he doesn't engage in the thing that he loves most in the world. The wins and losses of his favorite team mean more to him than anything and can affect his mood for days. More than just a casual viewer, don't dare ask this guy, "How about them Yankees?" unless you want to hear a rant about how the managerial Kremlinology of the team has adversely affected ERAs, RBIs, and designated hitters in alternating away games.
Substrata: Football fanatics, Statistics junkies, Cheeseheads
Gathering Place: Tailgate parties
Knows Way Too Much Useless Information About: Fantasy sports league drafting
Eagerly Anticipating: Opening day of Major League Baseball