Starting a blog has been on my mind for a while, but it took some intellectual courage to finally get it going. Up until recently, I felt that unless I could literally write a book on a subject, I simply didn’t know enough about it. In that case, why should I bother writing some dilettante ramblings? What good would that do to the reader?
I now understand this way of thinking is unfair, both to myself and to the readers. To myself, because after years of school, and close to two years of work experience, there are many topics I can write intelligently about. And more importantly, to the readers, because it is time I start giving back some of my knowledge to the internet, one blog post at a time.
A huge inspiration for finally kicking off this blog came from watching Adam Savage and Andy Weir’s interview. Andy Weir wrote the very successful sci-fi book The Martian, and amazingly, while he was doing research for his book, he had no contacts with anyone in NASA, or the entire aerospace industry for that matter. He relied on only books, and the internet!
During the interview, Weir talks about how during the early research phases for his book, one great resource has been “amateur” websites - think of stuff in the flavor of BOB’S SPACE PAGE.
Weir says beginning at 13:16
“calculating orbital trajectories and stuff like that .. I learned from this high school teacher … who had posted this stuff on his website for his students to look at … and that’s how I learned how to do it, because this guy had bothered to post it.“
This is the true beauty of internet. Every bit of knowledge that we put out there, how trivial it may seem, can help someone who is less knowledgeable than us. Sure, you can go buy a book and pore over it to learn something, but sometimes an obscure PDF file from Google Search page 3, written by a random TA for their course back in 2005, states the exact concept you were trying to grasp, and explains it beautifully. In the case of this high school teacher, his writings helped Weir create one of the best hard Sci-Fi books ever, The Martian. And perhaps, a ten year old somewhere is reading The Martian right now, dreaming about becoming a scientist herself. This is the sort of happy butterfly effect that the dreamers of computers and internet like Vannevar Bush, Douglas Engelbart and Tim Berners Lee had envisioned.
Growing up in Istanbul, having access to a computer and internet opened a whole new world to me. I think that without access to the internet, I would not be inspired to learn English nor to embark on a career in engineering. So, I am now excited to finally give back, and share some of the things I learned so far :)