If a sound is made in the forest, but no one is there to hear, is it a sound?
Recently, I find myself in a pensive mood. I started this site as a way to help programmers. There are programming forums out there covering every imaginable programming language (such as Dream In Code). They have members giving out tips and help to questions, giving a direct solution to a tangible problem. There are many other types of programming sites and blogs, some tinted with personal stuff, some merging with other technology topics.
My aim is to create an environment which makes you think. It didn’t start out that way. I tried writing some basic stuff, like reading and writing input and output, and formatting. I felt there are many sites covering the basics much better than I can, so I stopped. Besides, I felt like I was regurgitating from a reference book.
Then I went on to try some other things, like outsourcing, toilet manners, a study of social media effects and even how dementors can bring you down. Actually, right now, I feel very much brought down by an invisible specter…
Ok, so I thought my math background gave a unique perspective to programming. I wrote about a different way of using Bezier curves, and also Fibonacci sequences and the associated golden ratio. Not quite sure how many people can deal with math theories and such.
I’ve gotten some comments (thanks to all you wonderful commenters!), some interaction, some response. The thing is, I don’t know if I helped anyone at all. I certainly don’t write a lot of code examples, since they seem very limited in use. Basic stuff is well-covered elsewhere, and I’m afraid advanced stuff would put off a lot of people.
I feel very much like a sound in the forest.
My articles are shifting towards talking about programming, more theoretical than pragmatic. Because I’ve very little to work on. I want to solve real world problems. A polymath programmer should be solving real world problems. That’s why he’s learning so much about topics other than programming. Because real world problems can’t be solved with just one skill.
You might not understand how a botanist can possibly contribute to the success of space travel. Until you realise the journey might take weeks and months, and you need a renewable source of breathable oxygen, and it’s coming from plants. Who’s going to take care of those plants?
I still believe in helping programmers write better code (or at least suck less). I just appreciate some nudging. Perhaps a question, a query, a topic you’d like to know more about. I think all humans want to be acknowledged. Perhaps it’s happening here.
I have a few ideas I want to try out in the name of creating that environment for thinking, of promoting original and individual thinking. Because programming is very much a thinking activity.
So my answer to the philosophical question posed at the beginning is this: The moment you acknowledge a sound to be a sound, it becomes a sound. Whether it’s actually heard by a human or a doe or butterfly is irrelevant.
I’ve never heard the songs of whales. I’ve read about people who’ve heard them. The moment I acknowledge that whale songs exist, whale songs become real in my reality. The fact that I’ve never heard one is irrelevant.
Ok, going back to reading the minds of those faceless visitors, trying to figure out what I can help with…