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Fwd: [hackers-il] Re: [Israel.pm] Is University Really Necessary?

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  • Arik Baratz
    ... Yes, I thought about the translators and tech writers after I sent the message. So if you want to be very inclusive, then the open source community which
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 26 11:31 PM
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      On 3/26/07, ik_5 <idokan@...> wrote:

      > Actually that's wrong :) We have (in Israel) group of people that does
      > not know how to code, but still contribute. They translate, they write
      > documents and guides, they report bugs, and they help people to use
      > open source software.

      Yes, I thought about the translators and tech writers after I sent the
      message. So if you want to be very inclusive, then the open source
      "community" which includes the coders, tech writers, translators,
      users, beta testers and everyone else who participates in open source,
      you're right, it's open to everyone with the aforementioned free time
      (perhaps with the exception of the users who might be using it for
      purposes other than helping). I hereby withdraw the definition
      "elite", leaving only "people with free time".

      > The thing is, that university is for rich people, that can invest all
      > of their time into having some sort of diploma. And the higher you go,

      Although my parents helped me considerably with my diploma, this
      statement, according to the experience of many others that I've known,
      is false.

      > the harder for you is to find a job, and places such as the Technion
      > will also prohibit people from working while making a degree higher
      > then the BA (or BS etc..)

      This is false. From my experience, you can work 20% of the time in an
      undergraduate degree, and from others' experience you can work more
      than 60% of the time in a graduate degree. It actually gets better in
      the higher degrees. And considering that higher education in Israel in
      one of the universities (and I'm specifically excluding private
      collages) is extremely cheap, less than 2000 NIS/month including dorms
      and materials (perhaps it's more for faculties that need a lot of
      materials like architecture), and there are a lot of scholarships, I
      think it's very accessible to everyone. Even if you don't save enough
      and have to rely on student loans, it's still doable.

      The only case I've seen when the Technion actually prohibits you from
      working is when you get a full scholarship (including dorms and money
      for other expenses).

      > > This meta-program is, IMHO, an extremely important part in the ability
      > > to cope with life as it is today and be successful. It's a basis to
      > > basically everything you do. If you have a job - you're handed a task,
      > > you perform it, and get feedback. If you're self-employed - you decide
      > > on a task, perform it, and the success of your business is your
      > > feedback. If you're an inventor, you create something, you realize it,
      > > and acceptance in the market is your feedback. If you're an artist...
      > > I can go on and on about this, you get the point.
      >
      > So why does “spill all your knowledge without interruption, at a
      > giving time” is the right way ? How about “Arik, please write me a
      > program that calculates the sum of all the digits of PI, oh and please
      > submit it by tomorrow” is not such a good checking to see your
      > knowledge, and if you can handle giving tasks on time etc.. ?

      Who said it's the "right way"? No one said it's the right way. The
      teacher needs to know that you've gained something in the course of
      the semester, so they assign you a task. They know that to solve this
      task you will need to employ some of the material covered in the
      course. They estimate that to solve the task will take you x amount of
      time. They can quantify your "success" by measuring how well you did
      that, compared to them, and score it. It's not "the right way", but it
      is "a way", which is a compromise between the necessity to evaluate a
      lot of students in a short amount of time, the problem of subjectivity
      when doing 1:1 evaluations, the inability of the teacher to look
      inside your mind and see how much you know, etcetera. Nothing is
      perfect in this world, better get used to it because complaining won't
      solve it. If you can think up an alternative cost-effective
      non-invasive way to do that, please suggest it.

      > So why is it so hard for you and many other people that did go the the
      > university that some people like to learn, but they can learn only by
      > doing it on their own, with trail and error ?

      Oh, I can feel it, I can feel it... here it comes... a quote:

      "We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see
      more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any
      sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but
      because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size" -
      Bernard of Chartres

      It's not that learning by trial and error is bad for you. It's in fact
      very good - no - essential. By all means continue trying and erring
      and learning. It's just that, on occasion, you might want to consider
      skipping some of it when other people erred and learned before.

      > For example, at high-school, I found out that numbers are not
      > integers, but actually only wish to become integers, but they are not.
      > You know what caused me to understand that ?
      > I did not understand a subject in Algebra, and the teacher was unable
      > to explain to me the subject. So I started looking at the result of
      > things that was made using that subject, but when I tried to solve it,
      > I always got close answer, but not the same answer. That is if the
      > book written “1”, I always got something like 0.9333431 or 1.01 etc..
      > while the way I solved things, where the same as they thought us, but
      > the result was “almost” but not closed, so I concluded (after that few
      > other people checked my formulas, that found thing wrong), that you
      > can not have an integer value with out rounding things up.
      > It took me 7 years to discover that there is such actual mathematical
      > theories ...

      ...which brings us to the language topic. There are terms that
      describe the phenomena you've learned on your own. The fact that you
      don't know the name for it makes it difficult for me to understand
      exactly what you're talking about (I think you're talking about limits
      but I'm still not sure). When you work, you communicate with other
      people. Knowing a common language by which people express those ideas
      is important.

      > So who learned better from that experience, a person that learn the
      > subject at university, or a person that found out about it while
      > trying to understand different things ? !

      Look, I don't really want to take away from your experience. In fact I
      felt that myself a lot of times, when I have "discovered" a theory
      only to find out someone else has discovered it more than 500 years
      ago, and even named it after themselves - the cheeky bastards. It is
      good to discover them, it is also good to learn about them if you
      didn't. Is one better than the other all in all? I don't know. You'll
      have to convince me there.

      > So the fact that I'm at the same open source project for more then 4
      > years (give or take, by the time I have to give something), and the
      > fact that I had 3 full years of service, and if tomorrow I'll raise
      > kids, or marry a woman, and live with them for years, it will say the
      > same thing ...

      Indeed. When I interview people I obviously take it into account, and
      I've given a "hire" recommendation for people without degrees. And, at
      least to me, IDF military service (this is what you meant by "3 full
      years of service", right?) does count as a bonus, because it indicates
      that you can fit in a demanding environment and stick with it for 3
      years. Unless you're like some guy I've seen who's using his 3 years
      to get into as much trouble as he can and spend as much time as
      possible grounded to his base.

      > So I do not understand this filter, because you have so many ways to
      > prove the same thing.

      Yes. Having a degree is one of them. It's not a filter, it's a
      weighing system. At least for me it is, don't know about other people.

      > If you need to find a filter, please look at how the person using his
      > or her occupation. For example, does that person go to a computer at
      > home after 12-14 hours of work and continue doing something on the
      > computer ?

      This, my friend, is a serious personality disorder. Unfortunately I
      share it with you. Did I mention it's 4am here?

      > Does that person try to learn and be better, even when that is done on
      > that person “free” time ?
      > Does that person have more interests then just working in specific
      > subject.

      Yes, it counts.

      > And I can continue giving you filters for people ... the thing is,
      > that the above filters are much better then having a diploma. I know
      > a person that have a BS degree, but he only knows things that giving
      > to him by educational places, such as schools and universities, but
      > nothing further then that. So why would you prefer someone like this,
      > over someone that does not have any degree but does have good
      > answerers to my filters ?

      I definitely wouldn't. Experience counts more than a degree. I never
      argued that.

      > I don't trust people that can't handle their choices ...

      Okay, let's work with that. "people who change their minds are
      untrustworthy". So, is it more important to stay fixed and rigid in
      your preset opinion or have the flexibility to change and reinvent
      yourself according to different needs?

      Imagine Joe who comes to a factory and works the sprocket machine.
      He's so very happy with his job and never wants to change. Now due to
      cuts he's out of a job, and can't even work at the competing factory
      because they don't make sprockets. In fact, the reason Joe was fired
      was because he could never take over for Jim when Jim was sick because
      Jim was working the cog machine and Joe wouldn't work on anything but
      the sprocket machine.

      I understand that you want people to be consistent, and consistency is
      important, and taking consistency to an extreme will result in a lack
      of flexibility. Don't you know people who enjoy different things but
      are nevertheless reliable? I have changed what I do several times for
      the last 7 years. I was a programmer, a designer, an architect, a
      sales engineer, a professional services engineer and now I'm a
      technical marketing engineer. Yes I'm in marketing, if you asked me 7
      years ago I would say 'no way'.

      It's like that, people change, people grow up, their preferences
      change. Something new comes along, and that's that. And I rather have
      someone who likes what they're doing rather than someone who hates
      their job and stays because of some decision they made long ago.

      > What will promise you that tomorrow, that person will have a twinkle
      > in his eyes, and will use your place, and resources to have something
      > completely different then what he was needed for, and instead of doing
      > his job, he will do something else.

      Nothing. If they're decent enough they'll come and say that they
      decided to move on. If not, and hopefully if the hiring process is
      right it doesn't happen, they'll be let go. No one wants people who
      don't want to be there.

      > > Of course they do. They understand how to get diplomas. I'm not being
      > > cynical, but if that is all you gained from your academic studies, I
      > > don't think going there was such a good idea.
      >
      > Then it means that having a diploma does not mean you know something
      > on the subjects you have learned, it means only that you know how to
      > get a diploma (what about buying them, or something similar ?)

      Like I've said before, having a diploma means that the person can take
      up a multi-year task and bring it to completion. Unless they buy the
      diploma, in which case they'll fail really quick with me. I despise
      bullshit and when people don't give me straight answers for technical
      questions, they're out. As a rule of thumb, if you go out of an
      interview with me either sweating or shaking, you didn't make it. I've
      had those before. Sorry, I have a low BS tolerance.

      > Most of this argument, is does a person that learned at the
      > university, is better then a person that did not, hench, he or she
      > gives you better filters to accept such person to work for you, or
      > with you.

      Define better... Having a diploma says something about you. A few
      things actually. Lacking a diploma doesn't say that you lack those
      things, it just means that I have to be more careful when I interview
      you because I have to check whether you have them.

      > So I still can't find an answer (that is not questionable) to why
      > people that learned at the university have better resources, and
      > acceptance, then people that have the same knowledge but got it
      > elsewhere ?

      One answer would be - because they also speak the same language, as
      discussed above. Another one is that they are capable of completing
      long term tasks, also discussed above. If these can be shown
      otherwise, there's no reason.

      > The only way I can understand it, is that they are part of a cult or a
      > religion ... because any other answer I was given until today is
      > highly questionable for me, and still doesn't really answer the question.

      Oh please lay off it already. It's not a cult, it's not a religion,
      it's not an elite. Go and get a degree if you want to, or don't. If
      you're excellent, you won't have a problem finding a job either way.
      Read about cults and religions before you invoke their names here out
      of context.

      > > > "Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always
      > > > glorify the hunter."
      > > > African Proverb
      > >
      > > I like that one. Can you please explain its relevance to the topic? I
      > > hope you don't mean what I think you mean.
      >
      > What do you think I meant ?

      Well, the way I understand this proverb, it's about historical
      subjectivity. It's about history subjectively preferring the winner
      over the loser, because the winner gets to write history. The way I
      thought you might apply it, badly, is (and I don't support this) that
      university graduates are the winner and, being the elite winners, they
      set the rules of the game where the non-graduates, the loser, have to
      abide by these rules. Being the hunted party, the non-graduates lack
      the resources to change that.

      > Sometimes it takes years to understand a meaning of something, so
      > please do not take any shortcuts, because then you will not learn to
      > think, you will learn only to ask for an answer.

      The reason I asked you to explain it wasn't because I didn't have an
      interpretation, it's because I was going to give you the benefit of
      the doubt, since my interpretation shows you as a loser who can't see
      beyond the feeling of being a loser, and as such will forever remain
      defeated.

      The reason why this world view is skewed and wrong is that you are not
      the loser in this non-battle, You just chose a different path. I can
      see that you are very much convinced in the righteousness of your
      path, and your text reflects a lot of strong emotions, so I will make
      no attempt to sway you. I'll just say the following:

      Righteousness leads to blindness. Be flexible, Ido. Make a conscious
      effort to put your emotions aside, for a brief moment now. Open your
      eyes to the possibility that thousands of people study at the higher
      eduction institutions, and at least one of them isn't stupid, and has
      considered both options, and chose to go this route. I've been there,
      and some of the smartest people I know have been there with me.
      Perhaps some of us know what we're doing.

      -- Arik
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