Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being an Insider

After a few years at the university I've learned that people "on the inside" are different from people "on the outside." There is of course the difference between scientists and normal people but that is not all.

Before I started studying at the university, I didn't consider problems like, "I have two infinite sets. I wonder which one is bigger?" or "I have two unsolvable problems. I wonder which one is harder?"

The biggest change, though, is my humor. Among my friends references to xkcd are quite common. So is, "Oh, you haven't read the latest xkcd?" if somebody doesn't get a reference. But nobody ever looks weird and asks, "What is xkcd?"

So reading a geeky online comic is one thing. Another is the analogies. Over time I've made and witnessed a rather large number of obscure analogies. I think the worst one was when Thomas and I compared type safety and sluttiness. Frankly, I think everyone besides Thomas and I found that one weird. I still insist it makes sense:

Sluttiness will scare off (~reject) some guys just like type checking rejects some programs. It makes sense to discuss if the right guys/programs are rejected. It is a perfect analogy! Is sluttiness a conservative approach? That question makes sense! It didn't really get obscure until we started comparing not openly prudish guys with falsely rejected type safe programs … Even though I also think that one makes sense.

Anyway. Relating everything to something concerning computer science becomes rather common. Why wouldn't it? Everyone knows what we're talking about! At least everyone "on the inside." Personally I just find all these changes fun. It creates some common ground.

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