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I had a disagreement regarding this topic recently.

To me, a person, who is tech-savvy does understand technology well, may follow the tech trends, even be a programmer, but will gladly accept a solution that works seamlessly for them (such as AI technology that automatically sets up stuff from them) without needing to overly fidget with everything in their hand.

A nerdy person however, will try to dig as deep as possible to fine-tune the system to work exactly as they want to and will be delighted by the process. They will probably reject an out-of-the box solution because they believe they can set it up better.

Am I wrong? Am I right?

Edit: I didn't want to drag it here, but now I think I should clarify why I am asking, as it will give the question a clearer context. I was supposed to come up with an idea (product design if you will) for a smart home app (that allows you to control the temperature and lights) aimed at tech-savvy people.

What I came up with was a concept using technology such as AI and machine learning that made the interactions with the app as short and easy as possible. AI basically created a level of abstraction that simplified using the app, however, it also prevents the user from fidgeting with the individual heaters and lamps.

I was told that this app is not aimed at tech-savvy people, because they would actually love to play with the individual settings. <- this is what doesn't make sense to be, because that would make the person geeky, or rather, nerdy as Flater pointed out.

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, Hank, AndyT, Davo, 1006a Oct 4 '17 at 17:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • The two primary definitions of geek in Oxford Dictionaries Online are 1: an unfashionable or socially inept person, and 2: (US) a performer at a carnival or circus whose show consists of bizarre or grotesque acts. It's a matter of opinion whether the more recent subdefinition of the former (a knowledgeable and obsessive enthusiast) justifies saying tech-savvy is "synonymous". – FumbleFingers Oct 4 '17 at 15:04
  • I don't think we can answer your question in any useful way. "Tech-savvy" is a fuzzy enough concept that you need to clarify with the folks who use it just what they mean. If your company has a particular market in mind, it doesn't matter whether their label conforms to your idea of the term or mine or the interweb's as a whole; what matters is that you understand the market as your company has defined it. – 1006a Oct 4 '17 at 17:05
  • Yep, I agree, I should have asked (it was a test project with 1-sentence brief), it just didn't even occur to me. Guess we can close this topic. – Lea Oct 4 '17 at 18:37
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Although there is overlap between the two, "tech-savvy" and "geek" are not equivalent.

The definitions you use are a bit heavy on context, they make assumptions and likely associations.


Tech-savvy refers to a technical aptitude, without describing the person's character.

According to the OLD:

Well informed about or proficient in the use of modern technology, especially computers.


A geeky person however, will try to dig as deep as possible to fine-tune the system to work exactly as they want to and will be delighted by the process. They will probably reject an out-of-the box solution because they believe they can set it up better.

I would call that a nerd, not a geek.

The distinction between nerds and geeks is not strictly defined. Those who do are neither a nerd nor a geek tend to use "geek" and "nerd" interchangeably, often using both to mean "socially awkard tech-savvy people".

Following the OLD definitions of nerd and geek, these words can be used interchangeably.

However, if you look at online communities (where everyone is inherenly a computer user), there is a bigger distinction made between nerds and geeks.

  • A geek is socially awkward. They behave differently, in a way that creates awkward situations. This can both be conscious (not caring about what others think) and subconscious (trying to be social, but horribly failing at it).
  • A nerd overspecializes in their field. They know a lot about their favorite topic, are always interested in learning more, and are prone to making overly pedantic arguments and distinctions.
  • Neither "nerd" nor "geek" is inherently referring to technological skills, although it is often implicitly understood to be the case.

Note: Those who do are neither a nerd nor a geek would probably call me a geek for distinguishing between nerds and geeks. But they'd be wrong, distinguishing between nerds and geeks makes me a nerd, not a geek ;)

That doesn't mean that someone can't be both at the same time. If someone is talking in-depth about his favorite topic and not noticing (or caring) that no one is interested in what they are talking about, then they are being a nerd (showing excessively deep knowledge) and a geek (making a social interaction awkward) at the same time.

Some examples:

  • The guy who shows up to work dressed as Darth Vader on Star Wars day ("May the fourth" be with you) is a geek.
  • The guy who knows the etymological origins of the proverb you just used is a nerd.
  • The guy who tells you that Alderaan is actually a dwarf planet when observing its gravity well is a nerd (for knowing this piece of trivia), and could also be considered a geek (e.g. if they are explaining it to someone who clearly doesn't care about Star Wars).

I've also stumbled upon a blog post that describes it better than I'm able to/

  • Nerd - intelligent, industrious, understands things

In a general sense, nerds can be from all different backgrounds. But I think that they can generally be described as someone who is willing to study and do the work in order to learn the stuff. I’m not quite sure that someone who is naturally gifted with intelligence but who doesn’t utilize it can be categorized as a nerd. No, I take that back. They cannot be categorized as a nerd. They’re just smart and lazy. Really, how much worse can you get? I think that most people would rather be dumb and hard-working than smart and lazy.

Nerds can often be found in libraries, hunched over books, or wondering aloud about their surroundings. “Nerd” seems to be used most often in a complimentary way when describing others.

  • Geek - Interested in things that others are not interested in, know a lot about their interests, but usually do not understand underlying principles

So yes, geeks are the types of people that are not only interested in Star Trek, but who will also dress up to go to the premiere. They’ll also buy collector cards, read forums online, and read every single book about Star Trek. Obsess much? Yes they will. But you don’t know where the Klingon Galaxy is located relative to our current position in space, do you??

Geeks come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, those are usually the odd shapes and sizes. They are generally not as hard to spot as the nerds because of their disregard for what others think of them. Their clothes don’t match, and they might occasionally offend others with their insufficient personal hygiene.

  • @Jim: Love the addition, but disagree with it. Geeks are socially inept (yet that's the one trait they lack according to your diagram), and nerds are not always socially inept. A better definition, in my opinion, would be geek = obsession and social ineptitude, nerd = intelligence and obsession, and dorks and dweebs are notoriously dumb geeks. (But like I said, the definitions are highly subjective, I'm merely listing the one I see used most often) – Flater Oct 4 '17 at 15:55
  • Thank you guys! I added the context to the question to clarify why I was so descriptive with my original question. And thank you for distinguishing between nerds and geeks, I've been using the terms incorrectly. – Lea Oct 4 '17 at 16:09
  • @Flater I had the exact same opinion on that diagram. Nerd and Geek are very inaccurate in it. – Hank Oct 4 '17 at 16:28
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    I think the distinction between "nerd" and "geek" is highly localized, probably to the point where it's a primarily-opinion-based issue. Both "geek" and "nerd" have been reclaimed by various groups, and I don't think either necessarily requires any level of tech-savvy (one can be a "music nerd" or "literature geek"). The Geek Hierarchy may be illuminating. Personally, I've always thought that the key distinction was the level of enthusiasm for a particular topic: An enthusiast "geeks out on" or just "geeks" a topic. – 1006a Oct 4 '17 at 17:09

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