Friday, August 26, 2005

Table Lookup

I went to an engineering school. While there, i hung out with a group of about 20 guys (some of whom are women). There were de facto spots to hang out. For three years, it was one of the on campus apartments, large enough to have its own living room. So, a bunch of us would be hanging out, deep in conversation.

Now, in computer software, there is hardly any duplication. If there is any, it can generally be relegated to a subroutine, and calls made to it. The advantage is that if there is an error, it can be fixed once. If there is a new idea, it can be applied once. That's the theory, anyway.

For a group of engineers and scientists, all with excellent memory, the same sort of efficiency could be had with conversations. Whole conversations would be given a label, and references could be made. No need to rehash the debates, a reference to the label was enough to carry all sides. If someone missed an interesting (referenced) conversation, someone could fill that person in, without the need to tie up the whole group. As a result, conversations became somewhat higher level.

Oddly, no one ever wrote any of this stuff down. So who knows what wisdom or tripe has been lost. Perhaps it would have been too much like documentation. Everyone knows that programmers don't like to write English. I thought that was true for me at the time. However, when the group project reports needed to be written, i volunteered every time, even when others competent with text editors and formatting programs were available. Of late, i find myself writing more English than anything else.

We really couldn't say that this task was too difficult, that computers and editors weren't available. In fact, we enjoyed free and unlimited computer time. Text editors and formatting programs were available. We have were able to cut a 9 track tape before we left with all our stuff. One hundred and thirty five megabytes fits on such a tape - which is alot compared with the amount of stuff you can type.

We might argue that it takes longer than a half hour to type up a half hour conversation. We could all remember everything, so why bother. Except that i can't remember any of it, as far as i know.

A quarter of a century or so later, this blog resembles those conversations from time to time, at least in form.

1 comment:

FreeThinker said...

Better late than never ... we are recording our thoughts in blogs now!

"When I was a kid, all we had was a diary ... and those were for GIRLS!" ;-)~