According to UNESCO, there are over twenty thousand science books published each year in the United States. It takes a few weeks to read a typical technical book and potentially months to read a particularly dense or long one.
It’s not really possible to have any serious command of even a very tiny part of human knowledge.
When I first realized this, it affected me pretty deeply. I thought ‘how can anyone really make an informed decision when they had no hope of personally understanding the issues?’
This has two implications. First, nobody really knows what they’re doing. If somebody does something right, they are lucky. Suboptimal solutions to inadequately understood problems is the norm. Secondly, there’s no way for me to avoid the same fate. Everything I do will be littered with failure, and the only thing I will have to blame is my own ignorance.
I decided that perfection is not attainable. But what I can do is devote myself to getting better over time. The things I do may be embarrassingly wrong, but if I can hold onto my desire to learn, then at the very least I can make better decisions tomorrow. I decided that I would only consider myself a failure if I stop learning, and I stop improving myself.
So, I know that’s pretty heavy, but given you clicked on the “About” link, I figured you’d want to know something about me, and that’s it. More mundanely, I’m a computer programmer. I live in Chicago where I maintain a practice providing web development services. I’ve been here about eight years now, and I’ve been doing consulting for about two.
I grew up excited about computing. I was drawn to Linux while in high school. I went to school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I studied English. Getting an English degree was a pretty big deal for me as it expanded my worldview in significant ways. But the reality is that I do love making computers work, so after school I found myself in the industry.
I’m a proponent of Free Software. I’ve written several small and medium size projects, and have way too many ideas for big earth‐shattering ones to ever hope to get around to writing them all. I’m an avid bicyclist, and my bike is my primary form of transportation. I also enjoy working on bicycles, as well as the other mechanical contraptions I’ve managed to accumulate.