Should I learn this or that?

Recently, as I have been hanging around programmer communities and meeting new exciting people, I was often asked interesting questions like:

  • Should I learn C and C++ in 2020?
  • I am a beginner on that stuff. Is this a problem?
  • Do you think I am good enough?
  • How much time have you been learning?
  • etc. etc.

This note does not aim at answering questions. It aims at asking the right questions (as one even mentioned the well known How To Ask Questions The Smart Way (which I didn’t even read, to be honest, albeit lookingly interesting).

It feels like people only focus on being good at something. For sure, people like Naval Ravikanth, whom I got to know just a few months ago, would argue that this is important to be the number one at what you really love to do.

I agree. Only at what you really love to do.

And sometimes, this thing that you really love to do really differs from learning C or C++ or being a skilled programmer (what is a skilled programmer anyway?).

One should be graceful to have a something to be loved. I cannot imagine a life not loving anything, has it to be my wife, my hobbies or some domains of interest.

I love the Boshin War topic, especially the Shinsengumi and the first French military mission in Japan. These topics are nurturing to me. I’ve told a few people about that and it felt annoying to them. I don’t care. I am not them. What matters is how it feels (like Paul Portesi would say).

You like knitting? Just do knitting. You like painting? Just paint.

I like writing, so here I am writing.

You may think that I am digressing from the original questions. Actually I don’t think I do so.

I just don’t want to answer those questions. I may have answers, but they are not the one you are looking for.

To my mind the question should not be “Should I learn C and C++ in 2020?”. It should rather be: “What should I learn to work in the Defence industry?”.

And there are tons of interesting things to learn to get into this. You can learn to hack. You can learn how an alarm works. You can learn lock-picking.

And not only will you eventually find a project which involves C and C++, but you will realize that the project matters more than the languages do.

A friend of yours ask your help to secure their Spring app? Learn Java. That’s it.

And here comes another interesting question, which one would ask if they don’t know Java: “I am a beginner on that stuff. Is this a problem?”

Hell, no.

Point is: most of us are brainwashed by studies. The educational system can sometimes feels like a bed of Procrustes. Everyone is served the same thing. Sometimes this is even being perceived as arrogant to learn things that are not thaught during studies. And some will wait to be taught by teachers before doing.

But one has to admit that ancestors who weren’t taught had to create at some point: this is entrepreneurship. They didn’t know that things were impossible. Still, they tried. Their failures had few consequences for most of them. And sometimes they came up with a brilliant discovery.

Still, most of the time, it was outside studies. It was just personal and genuine curiosity.

You are actually lucky to be a beginner. Sometimes this is hard for experts to place themselves back to being a newbie and learn again.

But we are eternal learners. World is changing constantly, and so are you…

Speaking of this studies topic, where grades matter the most, this leads to the third question that I feel reluctant to answering.

Caring whether you are good or not is natural for sure, as there is natural competition between human beings (and, so a lesser extent, between animals). Still, we are human beings and we should be smarter than that.

If you truly focus on what you love and what defines you the most (and NOT anyone else), you’ll end up the best at your domain. Because you will be the only one in this realm; thus no one will rivalize with you as you’ll not rivalize with anyone.

At that stage, whether you’re good enough (at what you do) won’t matter anymore. Again, I’ll quote Naval on that: pursue your genuine curiosity rather than whatever’s hot right now, because there are significant chances that things within your genuine curiosity ain’t gonna change as quickly as hot things.

People chasing up to date things are slaves, learning useless things, fragile, quickly outdated.

Learn Bible, Coran, Greek Mythology. These fields of interest are deep and have existed over millenniums. It is much more worth than a je ne sais quoi bullshit life coach. Because this is still up to date knowledge which strengthen your mind. And, trust me, you’ll be good enough with this (and you won’t even care whether I find you good enough or not).

Just don’t bother being good enough if it implies being better than another or not. This is social status game and this is a pure waste.

Last but not least, the last question, still not so discontinued from the other ones. How long have I been learning? Especially here: how long have I been learning programming?

I started back in 2004, so this makes 16 years. At this day I’m 31. So I have spent more than half my life programming.

This impresses. But it should not.

Because as I said above, I have learned things that have come irrelevant today. I have learned fragile things which has become pointless at our era, as much as I have learned things which has remained unchanged, like algorithms and a few grasps of computer architecture. It’s fondamental knowledge, much more important that a simple programming language.

I think that in the future, the real human being related skills will be ever more relevant as we are slowly supplanted by artifical intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence is good at making decisions. That’s good.

Humain beings are great at creating. That’s even better.

Again, blessed Naval tells us to study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.

That’s much more than learning C & C++ as most of your university teachers blindly “teach”.

There are so much exciting things outside which awaits to be learned. So much fasicating problems to solve.

The universe is complex, big, unexplored. I think this is the case for the human gender as well.