Paul Graham, whose “Great Hackers” essay was making the rounds recently, has written another great essay, this one about the positive lessons we should take from the great internet bubble of the late 90s. I particularly liked his sixth section, titled “Nerds” (I prefer the term “geek”):
Clothing is only the most visible battleground in the war against formality. Nerds tend to eschew formality of any sort. They’re not impressed by one’s job title, for example, or any of the other appurtenances of authority.
Indeed, that’s practically the definition of a nerd. I found myself talking recently to someone from Hollywood who was planning a show about nerds. I thought it would be useful if I explained what a nerd was. What I came up with was: someone who doesn’t expend any effort on marketing himself.
A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance.