I like to look back on the things that I do and writing comes easily to me - it just seems like the logical thing to do. Frankly, I’m surprised it took me so long to actually (finally) build a decent-ish blog.
In a line, it helps get things off my mind in a quick, efficient, indexable manner. Writing often serves as a great tool for introspection, I find.
I finally got around to putting this together after a 5-year journey spanning Wordpress, Blogger, Medium, and plain ol’
.txt drafts of posts that are now likely to see the light of day.
On The Motivation to Blog
As an undergraduate student, I had a lot of questions to ask people about a variety of things related to academia, research, internships, and even good ol’ survival. Getting through engineering with a decent GPA, decent experience, and decent skillset is a surprisingly non-trivial task. I could go on for hours about how it is a poorly designed system (with exceptions, obviously) and - as I later learnt - how it isn’t just India that faces these issues. My friends in Germany, the USA, and a few other places face similar issues as well. I got lucky in finding a set of mentors who were more experienced than me and could guide me well. Experience, here, simply means they made the mistakes I would probably end up making and could thus provide enough perspective to prevent me from making their mistake. I still did make other mistakes but thankfully none were fatal to my career (or life, for that matter).
I solicited advice from a variety of sources ranging from undergraduates to professors, and from accountants to nuclear physicists. Over time, I learnt how to really use that advice (getting advice and acting on it are entirely disparate skills, as I later realized). The usefulness of a ‘fresh’ perspective is seriously undervalued. I would say this is the real reason diversity is important (especially in tech); on occasion it took barely five seconds before my colleague or advisor asked me a simple question that completely stumped me - why hadn’t I thought of that?! Well, it’s simply because of biases. We are taught (based on culture, demographics, or simply the environment we are used to) to look at things a certain way and eventually, just as the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov demonstrated in his experiment with a dog, we get attuned to looking at them the same way and it is difficult to break out of it. We might not find it as easy to find bugs in our manner of thinking as easily as someone who is attuned to a different nature of thinking is used to. It goes both ways, obviously.
I get called up by a lot of my peers and juniors to ask for my advice or simply thoughts on a certain set of subjects currently revolving around starting life abroad, doing reasonably well at academics, surviving engineering, undergraduate studies, finding internships, jobs, conducting research, exploring computer science - in particular machine learning - and on a few occasions even cooking. I offer everyone the same disclaimer - I know nothing about most of these things, but I can try to ask you some questions that might help you find your own answers. Most of the time, it is a repetition of the same thoughts and ideas; a regurgitation of the same adages I have been offered by my mentors, and (I would presume) the inheritance of such ideas continues ad infinitum. At some point, writing them down should break the loop and motivate a new set of questions to arise. I believe new questions are necessary and will eventually come about regardless of whether someone writes the answers down. In my case, penning thoughts is a simple means to avoid a repetitive regurgitation of ideals pertaining to education; answering the same old queries about moving to a new country or finding a new job. Most importantly, though, it allows me to reflect and re-look at some pretty fucking stupid opinions I held in the (more recent than I would care to admit) past. I say ‘fucking stupid’ because I realized they were a result of my own biases, but fortunately I have been lucky to surround myself with smarter people who break those down and point me to my flaws painfully often.
Having said that, I have faced a truckload of issues most Indian engineering undergrads battle at some point and while my solutions might not work ‘off-the-shelf’ for everyone, my approach might just help some others out. I’ve been told more than a few people like reading what I write so it’s not a complete waste of my time. That’s more than I could ask for. Thanks for reading!
I am still thinking of a better title for this blog but in the meanwhile I think I’m just going to leave it as
Try it out, it’s pretty neat!
Word of advice to the readers - my opinions are thoughtful, but loosely held (I swear this is not motivated by the Farnam Street Principles); I arrived at that conclusion myself, albeit used their title for it because it made sense. When I furnish my opinions on a subject that is all I offer it as - I do not see it as a permanent and unchanging stance for the simple reason that I do not believe I know everything about anything. Happy reading!