a change which came late but came good!
Since this my first post here, I wanted to make the first post sort of an introductory one and delve into my curious story.
<A little bit of Background/>
My name is Yavuz, Currently 29 and counting up in hi-speed. Born and grew in metropolitan Istanbul, I can say that I was introduced to all kinds of opportunities and was given a license to pick whichever path I deemed it to be a go-path for me as a course for my life. I was good both in math and social sciences, indeed I had acquired a bucket of nation-wide titles in the fields like math and physics at the science olympiads. However, the tides were turning when I had to pick a major to go for. I picked international relations, for one day I could be a diplomat, and an achieved ambassador. Upon graduation, I applied to MA since it could give me a boost for acceptance.
Got a scholarship, learned Arabic to be able to reach the first-hand contents pertaining to my academic research topic, finished my program, and penned my MA thesis, all in one year only! I didn’t have time to lose since I was 23 already. I started my journey in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an intern.
<The First Blow/>
It was a big blow… Nothing was like how I expected them to be. This half a year I spent there actually showed me that a ‘suit-tie-polished shoe’ job might not be for me since they all come with a price of full obedience to a bureaucratic monster that indeed resembles the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes. I could not stay there anymore, nevertheless, my passion for the topic I had studied was impulsing me to dig more into it, in a more freestyle manner. So, I applied to the top university in Turkey for the Ph.D. program, which resulted in a quick acceptance. Tough but rewarding it was. With the support of my lovely wife and with lots of effort put, I passed my comprehensive exam, which takes a whole 12 hours and the student is responsible for 50 pages long reading list!. I was officially a Ph.D. candidate and only one step away from realizing myself.
<The Second Blow/>
Once you pass the comprehensive, now you are a Ph.D. candidate. Faculties regard you as a colleague, rather than a student. I remember times when my supervisor was introducing me to the class by saying ‘ This is my student, Yavuz, as capable of delivering a lecture as I am, and at times he will be delivering the lecture.’ Sounded like a dream, to be honest.
Now, time to publish some papers. This is what doctoral research is for right? I mean you need to enlarge the real-estate of the state of art.
We started to write an article on a Private Military Contractor. This required lots of effort. Why? Because the very group we were working on had releases in at least 5 languages, only 3 of which we were capable to translate, lots of telegram accounts, some of them were terminated, lots of Twitter accounts, Telegram posts. To collect a good amount of data, you need to compile all of these sources. No surprise, this was my duty. On the way to pursue and collect raw data, I was introduced with open source intelligence, OSINT. Also instead of going through all these sites I had discovered, reverse searching the consecutive webpages, copying the texts, and so on, I had to find a way to automate it for me. So, I took help from my programmer relative who happened to be visiting us, asking ‘Is it possible to extract all these inner texts via a piece of code? Because it would take me weeks if I do it manually.’ The reply was a cool ‘Hold my coffee’ XD. It took him 15 minutes to do it, including his attempts to soothe my amazement. I was utterly blown away.
<At the Crossroads/>
Not before long, I realized that my OS is a solid Manjaro, I read posts on Reddit or books on my Kindle, and I literally spend a big chunk of my life with my new hobby, while my dissertation is blinking at me from afar. Now I had only 5 months to complete my doctoral research, but I had entirely lost interest. My eyes were rather anchored on the new gate that opened up before me. Its glamor was so enchanting I couldn't but surrender. A new chapter of my life was about to begin, not as an academic, but as a newbie programmer.
< Main Factors that Affected My Decision/>
There are a bunch of factors that pushed me to make such a twist in my life. I will list some of them but that does not necessarily mean that the order is per importance.
a) This may sound a bit harsh, but I have to admit. In my field, international relations, you do not feel like you are doing science. For the last two years, the main discussion my colleagues and I were having was around this problem. After a while, you find yourself digging the ‘trashbin of theories’ that can only explain very little, if any, or reading works from medicine, engineering, etc. to clone a theory into your field. This literally did not make any sort of sense to me.
b) Although everybody knows it, very few are able to digest the fact that we were unable to explain anything. Seriously, one single small question had hundreds of ‘possible’ answers and the entire literature is built upon cross-answering and ‘coining’ new terms. This caused the field to turn into a rather closed-community.
c) I had expected that I will enjoy some sort of freedom of thought. This is social sciences at the end, right? But no, there are some invisible glass walls and hidden mine-fields. Cross it and they will cross your name.
d) It is a very static area, no utility output, the theory exercises are not necessarily able to explain the very social event or fact that they attempt to explain. Ph.D. students will relate. What is the main reason? Methodology. The flawed designs in the methodology are causing the distinction between the road and the end. As long as the road is designed well, I mean the methodology here, you are relatively OK. The adoption of that degree of positivistic mindset, unfortunately, causes deviations and failures.
<Finally, Why Programming Then?/>
Coding is real.
You actually see the end product, whether it is to print ‘Hello, World!’ or taking part in more sophisticated projects.
Coding is useful.
One way or another you are helping yourself, the people, and the community. What you do either has a stand-alone benefit for ease of life or paves the way for bigger benefits to come. Because it is not cross-negating, it is accumulating.
Coding is hacking.
Yes, I don’t necessarily mean hacking hacking, but finding ways around. Keeping your mind agile and active, not smoky, and extremely abstracted. This not only helps to maintain a more sterile mindset but also deflates any possible accumulated negativity. Because you do, it works, you see.
The Community is awesome!
I will write a separate post about this one hopefully very soon. This alone deserves a new clean sheet :)
<After 7 Months, How do I feel?/>
Energized, satisfied, achieved, simply amazing!