The amount of Schadenfreude I'm experiencing right now is awesome.
tkahn's profile mentions that programming since the age of 9. That sounds like some pretty intense natural affinity for a technical skill to me. It's pretty lucky to be blessed with a natural affinity for a skill that is rewarded well by the economy. Most people aren't.
(think about it, if enough people possess a natural affinity for any sort of skill, that skill won't be rewarded very well, because that skill will always be plentiful)
I'm not denying tkahn's hard work, or smart decisions. I'm sure there were both. But there's also a lot of luck involved in tkahn happening to have loved programming from a very early age. When I read the article in question, I see a lot of hard work and a smart decision, too. What I don't see is someone who naturally happens to be awesome at a very desirable skillset. That doesn't exactly seem to warrant mocking smug superiority.
It's just what I was doing and good at since the days when I was 7 or 8 writing BASIC on my Apple //c. Other people at the same age, and up through high school (when I was still doing computer stuff in my spare time) happened to be really good at all sorts of other things, whether drawing or pottery or ancient history or learning foreign languages or carpentry, and at the time I certainly didn't see their skills as less important. Mine just turned out to be more commercially relevant, essentially through no skill or doing of my own. (If you had asked me as an 8-year-old to guess, I would've probably told you that carpentry and pottery were more practical skills than programming games on an Apple ][ was; I did the latter because it was fun.)
So I find the "screw other people, they should've picked a marketable skill" view weird, because I certainly didn't pick a marketable skill, and I think a lot of other techie types didn't either. I just got lucky that the thing I like turned out to be marketable. If it hadn't, I'd be struggling along doing something else I wasn't as good at, I guess, or trying to get one of the few meagre CS jobs. Or actually, it doesn't seem too unlikely that I'd be working as a waiter or coffee server or something as a day job to make ends meet, to support hacking in the evening. So the "struggling artist" types don't seem that foreign to me--- I just have the good fortune to have an art that pays.
Yeah, I dodged that bullet (so far). But I'm surrounded by people who didn't.
And I've started raking people over the coals online who continue to propagate the "just follow your bliss" meme. I suggest everyone join me. This is one meme that needs to die.
(My counter-argument is that most people like more than one thing, there's more than one thing they can do for a living without wanting to die. Are none of them an actually useful skill? All the engineering fields, all the science fields, all the medical fields, all the trades, and you have to pick French Literature of the 1600s? Or in this story, political science? WTF do you do with a degree in political science and no pre-existing "connections"? And you know, look at that list I made, expand it out, you'll see that I'm not calling for everyone to be supergeniuses. Physicians assistant, decent plumber, a variety of technicians, we need them all and you don't have to be 130IQ to get there, just willing to work. (And not actively stupid, but honestly, that's not the problem most people have.))
change that to age 10 and the ][+ and you just described how I got started with computers too. CALL-151 for the win! :)
It's been my experience that getting good grades has very little to do with the quality or completeness of one's education.
I think that working hard is the path to success. And by 'working hard' I mean working with intellectual honesty -- doing work which makes you smarter and requires thought.
Adding fluff to an English paper to make it longer is intellectually dishonest. Copy+pasting selections from a Wikipedia page into a PowerPoint presentation and then spending an hour rearranging the words to make it look like you didn't copy verbatim is intellectually dishonest. These things are standard practice for 95% of all high school students and they are rewarded within the education system.
Yes I may get a good grade doing it the honest way, but it seems unfair to me that those being dishonest should get the same grade.
I'm not saying that intellectual dishonesty isn't possible in math or science, but it is certainly easier and in my experience, 'the norm', in the liberal arts.
I am happy to know that somewhere down the line this all comes back to bite you. This seems logical to me that striving to better oneself intellectually rather than striving to get good grades would make one a more desirable employee in the job market.
It feels karmic.
There was a time when that would translate to real-world success. You can't exactly blame a teenager for not understanding the nature of the education bubble in the United States. I would place blame on a system which continues to encourage these choices in our young without fully informing them of the likely consequences. Yes, some people who major in art history or political science will be wildly successful, but the vast majority of them won't. That reality is often not communicated to college students in the United States.
"He works as an associate editor at Sikkim NOW, a small newspaper in India. You can follow his blog at www.andrewdanahudson.com."
I mean, it was obvious to me at 17 when my teachers said "it doesn't really matter what degree you do as you go to university to learn to learn" that that was complete nonsense. Of course it matters!
Those are really the only two observations one needs. One can infer the rest. (For me, at least, these observations became clear towards the end of middle school)