I don’t talk about my personal life on this website often. Most of that gets written at Zef.Nu, my Dutch website. However now I will also give those who are unfurtunate enough not to speak Dutch, and those who are not willing to learn it just to read about my life, a bit of insight in what has been happening and will be happening with me personally. Ok that was a very complex sentence, but I don’t feel like putting much effort into making it more understandable.
As most of you know, last September I moved to Dublin to study Networks and Distributed Systems at Trinity College. In two months I will be done. At this moment I’m working on my dissertation. I already hinted this a couple of times, but once I’m done I’ll move back to my city of birth (and where I lived the first 22 years of my life): Groningen in the Netherlands. There I’ll take a very different route, I’ll be studying “Engelse Taal en Cultuur” (translated: English Language and Culture), which is basically English Philololgy as known in many other countries.
That’s generally perceived as quite a change after studying computer science for 5 years and soon ending it with a masters degree from one of the better universities in Europe. But I feel I have to make this change. I have to figure out what I want to do and over the past years I found that a regular job in the IT industry might not be it.
A year ago I already considered this step when I got bored with more and more things related to programming and software engineering. I got more interested in language, particularly English. The English language had always been one of my interests, but as I had a Latvian girlfriend at the time and learned a bit of Latvian I got interested in language in general. How grammar works, how language evolves, different language groups. Linguistics basically.
A week or two ago there was a professor from some US university at Trinity to give a presentation. He talked about large-scale networked applications. However, the interesting thing to me was not that. The guy was clearly from some Spanish speaking country originally. And clearly he had lived and worked in the US for quite some time. His accent was very interesting, sometimes he sounded very American, sometimes he sounded very Spanish. I was intruiged. It’s interesting to hear how people sound that speak a language other than their mother tongue for a couple of years.
You get my point.
It’s not that I’m totally uninterested in my current field. I’m not. To be honest it’s not entirely clear to me what I’m still attracted to and what it is that I hate. I really enjoy reading about new technology. I’m very interested to read about big shifts in the computer industry and in software engineering in particular. Yesterday I was reading about the new features in Python 2.5 and still had that “wow, cool!” feeling. In the past days I’ve been looking at TurboGears and I’m impressed and got enthusiastic. I actually spent a couple of hours yesterday working on making a prototype of the forum 2.0 software I described a day or two ago using TurboGears (SQLObject actually).
But a couple of hours is all it was. After that I had something that fetched RSS/Atom feeds, checked for new posts, extracted all links and stored it in a database. All the data that was needed was essentially there, what remained was figuring out clever queries and algorithms and creating a front-end. And I really don’t like doing that.
Yeah, now that I’m writing about it, I think that’s it. I like the vision of things. The high-level design. Ideas behind things. I don’t care about the details and really, really don’t see myself programming it all. I could do it though, and I probably wouldn’t be bad at it either (I’ve done it for quite some years), but I won’t enjoy it.
So I’m going to study English. I’ll also be doing a journalism minor, I see some potential in there. Maybe I’ll become some kind of journalist that writes about IT related things. I like to explain things in language that normal people understand. As I have quite some friends now that don’t know much about the computer world (my girlfriend doesn’t know the difference between a bug and a virus). I quite often try to explain what I do in terms lay(wo)men understand. And I’m having a good time doing it.
But that’s all in two months, although I’m already looking forward to it. For now I’m working on my dissertation and it’s going well. And I enjoy doing it. I’ve been working on the design of the middleware/framework and I enjoyed that. It’s all design and vision work which is what I like. I also implemented most of it and that wasn’t too bad either (it’s all in Python). Next Wednesday my girlfriend is flying in (from Poland — she’s Polish) and staying for a couple of days, I’m really excited about that. Sunday she flies to England (close to London) where she’ll work for the next few months. I don’t like this long-distance relationship thing but what can you do, at least she’s closer now and can come and visit me more easily now (thanks RyanAir for excellent London Stansted-Dublin connections).