Computers make no sense

Mikołaj Sodzawiczny

Mikołaj Sodzawiczny / January 25, 2023

4 min read

Quickly before I get to the main section of article I want to fully acknowledge that I know nothing about computers.
Yes, you read that correctly. Even though I work with computers everyday and I interact with complex system on daily basis, I know nothing. This may seem strange to some of you but I hope that at the end of the post you will be on the same page as me.

Orbit of a Earth

What is so crazy about computers?

Well, pretty much everything. I recently came across this quote from Fasterthanlime

Computers, operating systems, networks are a hot mess. They're barely manageable, even if you know a decent amount about what you're doing. Nine out of ten software engineers agree: it's a miracle anything works at all.

and it got me thinking. I am definitely one of them, but I asked myself a very hard (for my fragile ego) question - how come? I recently started learning a lot about DevOps culture, networking, Linux kernel and more. I work as a professional software engineer who writes code everyday so HOW is it possible that all of those things are a mystery to me? I still can't find a good answer. Maybe it's just about years of experience? but the most experienced engineers I know are not familiar with things like: OS kernels, quantum computing, assembly, embedded systems, robotics, ML, game development etc. All of these categories are drastically different but you get the point. There are just too many things to learn in one life-time. The sheer amount of data that is possible to acquire is mindnumbing. I learned so much about computers and programmng in the last couple of years but I have barely scratched a surface - and that leaves my brain hurting.

So what now?

Nothing. There's nothing me or you can do that will bring us any closer to understanding ALL of this - but the good news is that we don't have to. I am currently writing this post on my laptop which is running Linux which has been build by Linus Torvalds who BTW admitted to not know a lot about Linux distros (you see what I mean, he is THE guy but he doesn't know) so okay, I am writting it on Linux and my input device (keyboard) interacts with the Kernel and the Kernel interacts with hardware which I also know nothing about. Later this post will be send to the database of Sanity (I know thing or two about this) through their interface that's build on top of Vite and probably Typescript (use it everyday but I don't understand anything about how programming languages are created).
You see what I mean? There are so many pieces! And this is only a top-view overview of the process of writing a blog post, there is also: hosting, servers, HTTPS, REST API and much, much more.
Current systems are build on the shoulders of giants and we just hope that they didn't do any major f***-ups along the way.

What am I doing?

Just trying to understand a little bit more each day. I do projects, I read documentations and code bases, books and articles. That's all I can do! That's both beautiful and scary. I am so glad I choose IT as my career field because I get to learn about things I would never bother to learn otherwise. You get to meet people who are as passionate as you are or even more (or sometimes they couldn't care less) and you can nerd out about stuff together! A lot of people (who even wrote books about discussed subjects) will just plainly admit that they aren't experts. It's very nice to hear so many "I don't know"s in the age of attention economy.

What's the point then?

If we are speaking about me, this article is my text representation of my love for computers and this piece about being romantic. I try to read it daily.
If we are speaking about software engineering then I can only personally say that learning is really fun. I'd like to keep the sense of novelty and curiosity throughout my whole engineering journey. Hope that you can keep yours.

End note

Big shoutout to fasterthanlime whom I mentioned before. His materials are amazing and I get to learn about the stuff that I never would have even dream of i.e this Big thanks to anyone who is reading this, please let me know if you enjoyed ths format