Posted by: CJ | February 5, 2009

Data vs. Spock

I’ve always been a big fan of Spock. He is (save for a few special cases and episodes) relentlessly calm, logical, and yet still warm and caring in his own extremely downplayed way. I enjoy his extremely dry, but existent, sense of humor. And he somehow even manages to look somewhat cool. In comparison I never thought much  of Data. He spends a great deal of time bumbling around, acting as a comedic foil in ways too undignified for Spock to ever stoop to, and he never has the warmth Spock somehow manages to have either. He also sounds more annoying because, unlike Spock, Data never knows when to shut up.

But over time I’ve come to appreciate one way I have to respect Data much more than Spock. Spock’s role in the original series is an alien, and he’s fairly comfortable in that role (in fact part of his ongoing struggles is to maintain his vulcan culture and beliefs in the face of such overwhelming contact with humanity). He never tries new things, and that’s part of how he’s able to be so detached and comfortable. Data, by contrast, spends the entire series trying to become more human. He seems like he’s often bumbling around because he is–he’s making attempts, with mixed results, to become better at interpreting people and social interactions. And even though I don’t like Data for a lot of reasons, I do have to respect him for that. I have to because I’ve spent a lot of my life bumbling around like that, trying very hard (also with mixed results) to become better at things other people do easily and without thinking.

It’s strange though, because when I was young I never could have imagined a way that Data was so overwhelming better than Spock…



  1. That may be because Spock knows what he is and is comfortable with that definition. Data doesn’t have an identity, so he’s trying to create one–and as befits his name, he learns the nuances of humanity as “facts” and bumbles as he tries to apply them. Spock knows what he is and how he thinks/acts/reacts in situations; Data has to input that.

    I think….

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