In my life, I am surrounded by nerds. I love this environment – it’s a rare thing to be surrounded by equally passionate and quirky people with engineering mindsets. But sometimes I look around and think, “man, how did this get to be normal?” So I thought I’d give some examples of the nerd environment that I take for granted. And I am curious to hear from you – what nerdy expressions do you see from your friends? How do you express your own nerdiness? (Disclaimer: all this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and I by no means intend to criticize anyone’s personal choice of expression.)
Level 1: Generic Harvard or MIT shirt. This is meant to express “I’m hot stuff, and smart, so look at me I go to an Ivy League school.” But if you ask those who actually attend such schools, they would never wear such a thing. Just like no New Yorker I know actually wears the “I <3 NY” shirts…
Level 2: Legit nerdy shirt. Again, a t-shirt, but hey – I’m in grad school. T-shirt and jeans is the UNIFORM. My friends who actually went to undergrad nerd schools, wear the shirts with legit equations. This is an example shirt sold at the Harvard and MIT COOP store, but it’s the type of thing I actually see MIT kids wear.
Level 3: Esoteric nerd reference shirt. Then, there are the shirts you only realize are nerdy if you get the reference. There’s a lot of references to video games, web comics, technical trivia, engineering terms that become off-color jokes if you understand them… I may or may not own the shirt below.
Level 4: DIY nerd shirt. I must warn you – level 4, my friends, is dangerous. If you venture into making your own clothing, it is best to stay surrounded by your fellow nerds. If you venture into an airport, say, with a blinking LED star on your sweatshirt… it can cause trouble. But for your fellow EEs, this would be bad-a$$. So proceed with caution.
Level 1: Old-school nerd. Believe it or not, I still see professors walking around with pocket protectors. I haven’t seen a slide rule in actual use, but I have seen them on professor’s desks. This is old school engineering, and perhaps one day pocket protectors will come back as retro… you never know, right?
Level 2: Standard student nerd. The default accessory of every one of my friends in undergrad was a TI-89. In the backpack, in the purse, beside the computer keyboard – it was always there.
Level 3: New-age nerd. Oddly enough, I see lots of blue hair, green hair, bright pink hair walking around. I thought theatrical hair was the domain of drama kids, or hipsters, but believe it or not my friends with the neon hair are also usually into Japanese anime, the sci-fi movie club, or the gaming society. Also shoes I notice are odd here in nerd-land – I see lots of the steroeotypical sandals-with-socks, but also a bunch of the five-toed shoes, and a good number of people walking barefoot.
Level 4: Cosplay accessories. Just like Level 4 with Apparel, Level 4 with Accessories can get you hurt. Boston just had the Star Trek convention last month, as well as the International Steampunk Festival in May. I can’t TELL you how many crazy accessories there were walking around… and no, I wasn’t secretly jealous at all… Light sabers, tricorders, top hats and monocles. I think what takes the cake is this accessory below, which is a steampunk take on Borg implants. 🙂
So now, over to you. How do you display your inner nerd? And how much do you display your inner nerd?