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Building Science

Are You a Green Building Geek, Nerd, Dork, or Dweeb?

Yes, they are different!

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In the world of building science and green building personas, are you geek, nerd, dweeb, or dork?
Image Credit: Andrew Kudrin, used under a Creative Commons license
In the world of building science and green building personas, are you geek, nerd, dweeb, or dork?
Image Credit: Andrew Kudrin, used under a Creative Commons license
This handy Venn diagram shows one way of distinguishing between these types.
Image Credit: Allison Bailes, from Great White Snark
What does that pocket protector say about Dr. Ed Voytovich?
Image Credit: Allison Bailes

I hear a lot of people call themselves building science geeks, energy nerds, green building dorks, HVAC dweebs, weatherization wonks, and policy poindexters. (It’s true! Some of them are imaginary people in my mind and some are aliens, but they really do say that.) What I see, though, is that most such people seem to throw these words around without understanding which is which and how dorks and nerds and geeks and dweebs differ.

(We’ll ignore eccentrics, boffins, anoraks, swotters, wonks, poindexters, and others of the sort because anyone who is anyone in the world where such things matter knows that those terms carry no weight. (Well, maybe wonk does. (And it would take a grammar wonk to tell if I’ve nested these parentheses correctly after all. (But who cares about such silly things as nested parentheses?)))

A while back I saw this snarky article by Great White Snark that clearly showed the difference between nerds, geeks, dorks, and dweebs in a nifty Venn diagram, like the one included with this article.

When I first saw this, I realized why I always take offense when someone calls me a dork. It also validated (at least in my mind) my perception that a nerd is a geek with glasses. My own assessment of where I fit in has always been geek. And yes, the mighty Venn (diagram, that is) confirms that my intelligence and obsession combined with absolutely no hint of social ineptitude puts me squarely in the geek camp. (You believe that, right?)

Hooray! I’m a geek! I’m not a nerd. I’m not a dork. I’m not a dweeb. I’m a geek.

… Hold on there, buster, cries another voice from the interwebs. According to OkCupid’s Nerd, Geek, or Dork Test, these three terms are defined this way:

A nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

Yes, I took their 60 question test. They happen to think I’m 70% nerd, 43% geek, and 22% dork. Hmmmm. I’m not sure I like that (except the low dork score). Dr. Seuss, who invented the word ‘nerd’ after all, thought they were something to be caught and put in the zoo.

It seems that I have my work cut out for me. I wrote a little about the geek issue last year in my post, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Building Science Summer Camp! But we’re going to have to come up with some clear-cut definitions for the building science world. We’ll probably have to start with the elder statesmen and stateswomen in the field — Joe Lstiburek, Gary Nelson, Linda Wiggington, et. al.

Of course, Martin Holladay has already staked out his turf by calling his blog here at GBA “Musings of an Energy Nerd.” But is he correct? Is he really a nerd?

What we need to do is develop our own metrics to determine if one is a nerd, geek, dweeb, or dork, at least in the world of green building. I’m gonna go get my HP 15C now and do some calculations in reverse Polish notation. I’ll get back to you with my results. It might take a while, though, because I’ll probably have to run some regression analyses, maybe use some of Michael Blasnik’s modified box plots, and definitely throw in some log-log graphs (unless it turns out not to be a power law relation, but that’ll put us back to square one).

In the meantime, I urge you all to think carefully about which of these you might be. If only it were as easy as saying, Oh, you wear a pocket protector so you must be a dweeb. Well, at least then we’d know what label to ascribe to Dr. Ed Voytovich (shown at the 2011 Building Science Summer Camp). Since it’s not, however, we’ll just have to wait until I get my algorithms worked out.


  1. John Brooks | | #1

    What pocket protector?
    The plastic fork and knife are pretty cool...but I am not seeing a pocket protector or a spork

  2. Lucas Durand - 7A | | #2

    It is indeed just an over-full shirt pocket (no protector).
    John, do you fit into any of those circles?

  3. Abe Kruger | | #3

    Origin of Geek
    You mention that Dr. Seuss invented the term "nerd," but I'd like to point at that geek is an old carnie term. A geek was a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, such as biting off the head of a live chicken. For whatever that's worth...

  4. John Brooks | | #4

    Lucas, I confess to being obsessive

  5. User avater GBA Editor
    Allison A. Bailes III, PhD | | #5

    I'm not Ozzie Osbourne
    Abe, I may have heard that about geeks somewhere in my past but conveniently forgotten it. Now that you've brought it back to my awareness, I guess I'll have to embrace my nerdness and forget I ever thought of myself as a geek.

    John, yes, he does indeed have a pocket protector in there, although it may not be visible.

  6. User avater
    Danny Kelly | | #6

    Heavy Metal Nerd
    Just to clarify - Ozzy bit the head off of a bat and dove - no chicken. (Thought I would just throw that out there in honor of the first National Day Of Metal coming up on 11.11.11)

    Personally I like Dr. Joe's term - "Greenie Weenie"

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