November 22, 2004 by Allen George
A CompEng student who’s not about the engineering. It’s what I do – but not what defines me.
A few days ago, that line from my profile provoked a series of comments. At the heart of the matter was the following point:
Although you should not call yourself “a comp-eng student” and leave the definition at that, it is an example of bad faith to state that you are a comp-eng student but it does not define you. As a facticious element, it very much defines you.
When I view my life dispassionately I’m aware of many inconsistencies. Drew pointed out one that is superficially innocuous; in comparison to the others I am aware of, this may seem unimportant, words on a screen. It’s not. That line says a lot about how I view my present course.
A bit of background. That was written in May, a month after the completion of my 3A academic term. 3A was – and still is – the most disastrous term I’ve experienced. Following its completion I questioned my viability as a computer engineer and asked myself “Am I simply going through the motions?” These feelings were further excaberated by my increasing preoccupation in peripheral interests such as writing and photography. This was a marked contrast to earlier years where I often took pleasure in writing code in my spare time.
It was obvious something was different.
In earlier years I’d defined myself in terms of my profession, i.e. primarily a computer engineering student. Does that sound odd? Defining yourself in terms of your chosen profession? Perhaps – but it’s true. I enjoyed working with computers; being with computers. It’s no wonder my self-identification reflected that. Another factor that contributed to this state of affairs was my still-ongoing preoccuption with the Linux/*nix hacker (as in designer/coder – not cracker) culture. I admired its members; their dedication and contribution seemed limitless and they enjoyed coding. All the time. I aspired to be one of them and I perceived one of the keys to entry as the innundation of my self in code.
3A triggered a backlash.
[To be continued]