A friend of mine keeps calling me a "nerd" because I continuously talk about science with my colleagues and friends, even at parties and bars. Also, because I work in a lab, I watch the Discovery channel on a regular basis and because I'm computationally savvy. Further, having a copy of Nature in my backpack "doesn't help", according to her. I always knew this description to be technically wrong and that there must be another adjective for these "set of skills and characteristics".
While reading the "About us" section over at www.geeks.co.uk I found what I was looking for to prove her wrong:
According to the Online Urban Dictionary, a Geek is defined as being in possession of both technical knowledge and social skills, which sets us apart from nerds (who have only the former) and dorks (who have neither, poor souls). Geeks are savvy and passionate about the world of technology and some of us have super powers.I knew I was a geek and not a nerd (the latter having a bad connotation) for a long time, but I couldn't quite explain it to her, so this definition comes in handy: it's clear and makes the distinction evident. I'm a social person and my friends are not only the people in my lab or my contacts in twitter or friendfeed .
Geeks are basically, the clever switched-on people who aren’t ashamed to admit to cyber capabilities not unlike the Terminator. Sociable fun loving types with a passion for tech and an ear to the world.
Regrettably, though, there isn't a direct translation of "geek" into Spanish for me to teach her.
Also, after I showed her my findings she mentioned:
(...) You taking the time to find out the distinction over the Internet, just proves me right, rather that helping your case.
Anyway, for those who watch Big Bang Theory, the distinction may become clearer by remembering the "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" episode:
The guy in the middle (David Underhill, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and Caltech experimental physicist) is a geek, and Leonard, well... he is a nerd.