The Nerd’s Burden (Part 1) – Information is Cool

I have referenced a lot of information about being a nerd.  If you have been following along, by now you know that nerdiness is ever so much more than pocket protectors and taped glasses.  The randsinrepose Nerd Handbook talks about “the amazing nerd appetite for knowledge.”  While this can result in amazing stores of useful information, skills, abilities, and trivia, it is also an incredible burden.  I am drawn to new knowledge like Mothra to Burning Man.  I deal with this all the time.  Today I had an experience that is typical of the nerd relationship to information.

Looking for a piece of information on a scientific phenomenon (the specifics don’t really matter), I came across the Agriculture Society blog on WordPress.com (the phrase “I came across…” has been involved in more damage to my productivity than any other phrase, except maybe “what was I doing again?”).  The Agriculture Society blog had some amazing information.  I was immediately drawn to an article titled How to Interpret the Glycemic Index (GI).  I was hooked.  This is notable because I have long been a publicly vocal doubter of the index, and its usefulness in managing blood sugar.  In spite of that public distrust, I found myself reading the post.  In the end, I agreed with most of what the author had to say (also very critical of the GI), but I didn’t know that going in – I just felt myself being pulled into a well-written piece of writing that appeared to offer reliable information.

The second experience was on the same site, some time later.  Stuck on the Agriculture Society blog, I found a post titled My Adventures in Making Yogurt.  I hate yogurt.  It is disgusting and nasty, and even gross.  I am not much of a milk drinker anyway, but yogurt is just a no go.  But My Adventures in Making Yogurt sounded so interesting.  I read the whole thing.  It was fascinating.  I found myself wanting to repeat some of the experiment.  And then I remembered how much yogurt is not tasty.  Because the site was well written, well organized, and full of good, understandable, reasonable information that I had not previously possessed, I was hooked.  And it doesn’t really matter what the source or type of information it is.

The other day my oldest son, who just started fourth grade and is starting to come into his own nerd superpowers, picked up a piece of trash on our way to the truck.  While I applaud attempts to help clean up our surroundings and provide a nicer living environment, when we got into the truck, he started to read the wrapper that he picked up.  I asked him if he was so starved for something to read that he had to pick up trash.  Do you know what he answered?  The wrapper was interesting.

I don’t think knowledge, or even the love of it, is anything like the root of evil, but for a nerd it is a horrible burden.

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