Saturday, March the 5th, 2005

Finally returning to our much famed “In grad school…” series.

You view life from extremely warped points of view when you’re born a hacker*. It ends up affecting the decisions you make at fundamental levels, and determines how you navigate through life. Unfortunately, it’s hard to explain this to normal people, and can cause some confusion as you end up dealing with them in the course of daily life. I, as every other hacker, understand one thing more than anything else. It’s like the quintessential hacker ethos — “There is always another way. Usually, a better one.”

But more importantly, “… and it’s OK to spend arbitrarily large amounts of time searching for the better approach.”

People are driven by different things, but the system we are in assumes we’re all in it to get something done. Think about it, it is almost the only differentiating factor between those who “make it” and those who “waste their lives”. I am, for better or worse, driven substantially differently. I don’t know if it is because of this hacker disposition, or something else, but I tend to be driven to understand and learn. That’s it. There is no drive to do anything with that knowledge. It’s like, I am a knowledge black hole, constantly driven to suck anything and everything in, but yet you can’t evidently see any useful work being done as a result.

Luckily, in grad school, even the few deadlines that exist are relatively soft. There is nothing that, if missed, will compromise anything of tremendous worth. I know this, and that’s why I’m here. Only here can lack of discipline be conveniently mistaken for eccentric genius.

I can’t survive outside.

*Hacker — One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.

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