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Data

This will be one of my few "happy" rants.

I've known I wanted to be a code monkey since I was in high school. But if you'd asked me what I wanted to do back then, I'd have likely said "program games!" or "something flashy having to do with graphics!".

When I got to college and studied computer science, I was at first horrified to learn that most of computer science was pushing data around. A whole class on how to store data in hashes, stacks, and trees. Another whole class on how to sort data once it was in those structures. It was terribly boring to me at the time.

How interesting that pushing data around turned out to be so darned fascinating. I think perhaps it was boring because I was no good at it before. I just spent a couple days turning a flat HTML table into a normalized SQL table. A couple years ago I'd have sat there copying and pasting from one file into phpmyadmin. Now, I bang out some Perl, parse up the HTML, turn it into a SQL query, and run it. I'm probably at least an order of magnitude more productive now at nearly EVERYTHING than I was even a few years ago.

No matter what you want to do with computers, whether it be designing games or GUI design or web design or general software engineering or whatever, a huge part of it is going to end up being "playing with data". Getting data from here to there, and translating it along the way. Storing and organizing the data so that you can do something with it. Your source code itself is just another form of data, on one very important level. The fact that I find all this so much fun is possibly one of the reasons I so love Perl.

June 19, 2006 @ 2:52 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants

1 Comment

Marc
Quoth Marc on June 19, 2006 @ 5:47 AM PDT

True. Computer science is all about the efficent storage, transmitting, and retrieval of data, a.k.a.: information. That's why you're always hearing about how we're an "information society" and what used to be called "system adminstration" is called "Information Technology (IT)". Even games are largely about data under the covers. Think of all those maps.