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[A somewhat long about , , , , and . I spent almost 3 hours on it, and retoots are much appreciated :blobfoxheart: Click on this toot or any other toot from the thread to start reading it, and please enjoy!]

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[thread start] Learning is a difficult thing. I was never the best at actually creating things using the vast knowledge that I piled up over the years. This used to make me sad. Turns out, it's actually totally ok! Hi, my name is cat', and welcome to my Ted talk on knowledge and know-hows and how my weird relationship to these two is valid and cool.

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[thread] I got interested in computer science when I was thirteen-ish, and as far as I can remember, I've always been quite self-conscious about how little I wrote code. This is because to young me, the only way to "get good" at computer science was to write the most code, to develop many little programs and games and to make a bunch of pull requests to big repositories for useful software. Which are all things that I tried many times over, but never completed.

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[thread] And so, for a long time, thinking about computer science always left me with a diffuse sense of sadness, the cause of which I couldn't really pinpoint since I knew I really enjoyed learning about the subject. I now recognize that this was caused by this conception of what being "good" at computer science meant, which is mostly incompatible with my general manner of approaching knowledge.

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[thread] Right before writing this, I was going through random txt files from the documentation of the Linux kernel, and getting an idea of how pieces of it work internally. It was really interesting and quite fun! I learned about the `sysfs` userspace interface to the kernel, and how it reflects the internal structure of `kobject` structs inside the kernel.

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[thread] That lead me to learn that the kernel uses "reference counting" for such structs in order to avoid memory issues, and I looked up what that meant and what techniques existed. This is only one of many examples of excursions into random computer science topics that I end up making on the daily.

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[thread] I didn't get to the point of reading kernel documentation out of nowhere. Initially, my intention was to write a small program in Rust that would monitor my battery status and open GTK popup windows whenever the charge got close to 0%. This is why I needed to learn about `sysfs`, a virtual filesystem created by the Linux kernel (located at `/sys`) which provides userspace access to system information such as the battery status, and much more.

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[thread] (sidenote: i am somewhat of a minimalist (read: unnecessarily minimalist) and am not using a full desktop environment, and also haven't installed such a battery monitoring program, therefore my laptop sometimes dies as i am using it because i naturally forget to regularly check the battery status in my status bar.)

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[thread] Thing is, after spending some time skipping through these various topics of computer science that progressively had less and less to do with the practical knowledge I needed to write the program I originally intended to write, my motivation for writing that program had sort of... disappeared. Well, damn. Doesn't that kind of suck?

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[thread] For a long time, my reaction when I inevitably ended up noticing this pattern, which always lead to me not actually reaching my initial goal, had once again been repeated, was to get angry at myself, think that I would never get anything done and be the cool dev or hacker that I wanted to be, and then not attempt to program again for the next few days, if not more.

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[thread] I think I am finally starting to realize that I don't need to feel that way about my learning process. If forcing myself to actually write code and not "get distracted", to "get something done" and "be productive", is either extremely hard or just doesn't bring me any joy, then why should I do it? And if digging deep into these rabbitholes of "useless" knowledge about various computer science related things /does/ bring me joy, then why refrain?

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[thread] This thread is getting really long and boring, let's cut to the point. Basically, the idea I want to put forward is that I am a DnD character.

Let me explain.

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[thread] In a DnD party, it is best to have a diverse cast of members, right? We talking a healer dude, a tanky paladin, a stealth pal, a my-job-is-to-cave-everyone's-head-in barbarian gal, you name 'em. Well, turns out answering the "what DnD party member would I be?" question is an awesome (and fun!) exercise to apply to your own image of who you are right now, and of the person that you would like to be. At least, it is for me.

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[thread] The "DnD class" I think I would most likely fit into is something akin to a /librarian/. I like to imagine myself sitting in a big library which is full of books. So full, in fact, that no single person knows the location of every book. To be honest, despite being a librarian here, I have by far not fully explored the library myself! But that is quite understandable: this library actually contains the entirety of human knowledge. Yup, just that.

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[thread] Most of my activity as a librarian here consists in simply exploring the Library. When I get up in the morning, I eat breakfast, get a random idea of a thing that I want to learn about, and then start to wander through the aisles of the Library, looking for pieces of knowledge that could enlighten me. Thankfully, those are two things that I am quite good at: getting curious about random topics, and then finding information about them.

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[thread] Now, it's not actually important what the initial thing that motivated my excursion is. My goal is not to get an full understanding of this thing, as a unit, in its entirety; rather, I use it as an initial stepping-stone, a crossroads amidst the endless paths that traverse the Library, from which I can depart down a dark alleyway and to which I can return whenever I feel like that one path has offered me enough knowledge for the day.

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[thread] And just like that, day after day, I explore various areas of the Library, drawing in my head a map which, though it is bound to be forever incomplete, allows me to find specific pieces of information, or return to any area of the Library, whenever I need or want to.

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[thread] And generally, this librarian mission is so fulfilling! I am constantly expanding my knowledge and vocabulary, which allows me to make links between things and have interesting thoughts, and mutually enriching discussions with other people.

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[thread] Talking of other people: the coolest days aren't actually the ones I spend alone hiking through the hidden pathways of the Library. Some days, I actually encounter other people in there! You see, this Library is quite different from any other, really, in that there is no central office or reception, and anyone can come in and explore it as they will. In fact, I don't even know if there really is a world outside this library. Hm.

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[thread] Anyways, what actually happens when I meet someone in there, you ask? Well, it can vary. Sometimes, they'll have a very clear idea of what they are looking for, and I just leave them to it. Other times, they are on a break, and willing to have a big discussion about what they were just studying can be linked to other areas of the library. And sometimes, they are lost and I get to set them on the right track to find what they need!

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@categorille To meet people inside the library is one thing, they entered already, looking for something specific or at least are open for knowledge or information, approaching you probably --- but even more
interesting, joyful and often rewarding is to share your knowledge with
people outside the library, inspiring and maybe motivating them to enter
the Library some day themself - and with that making a difference in
their lives too ;-)

@cresty that's a cool way of looking at it too! I'd like to have students some day and give them that drive for exploration

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