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University project complete, outlook on current affairs and lessons learnt over the last few years

I’ve finally completed the lion’s share of the work and submission for a large university project today and as one tends to do when they have exam revision to be done I am reflecting [procrastinating] on life in general. This post will start with an abstract and possibly largely irrelevant outlook on the world today, and progress to talk about actual things I’ve discovered through the course of the last few years.

A perceived observation one could make about both international and national (UK) current affairs this year is that things are, at least in part, chaotic. I’m a big believer in choas. That is to say the literal sense of the word, and that I believe that the world seems to behave in a completely random and chaotic way. But there are obvious signs that order emerges from this chaos. Sometimes that order seems to be very meaningful. This is a somewhat philosophical, and potentially theological area of discussion as some believe these ordered events are governed by physical laws and others from a higher power. I plump for the former. Though I’m willing to accept the latter is a possibility I find it less compelling.

Anyway the point is, governments are being overthrown overseas and here in the UK we certainly have a chaotic political environment. Such chaos can lead you into thinking quite pessimistically about the future of the world that may be inherited by the young generations of today (such as myself) and the younger generations yet to come. The desperate eyes of those struggling to make ends meet in a precarious economic situation would dampen anyone’s spirits. The important thing to remember is that order will likely emerge from this chaos and that it has the potential to be much improved on the order that existed before. I think that outlook allows one to see a glimmer of hope and even excitement at what could eventually be. As I graduate very soon, the feeling of entering a brave new world is somewhat amplified.

So with that said (and most readers probably wondering what on earth I’m on about) I thought I would summarise some of the lessons I have learnt in recent years that might help in moving forward:

If you want to build or achieve something, and haven’t yet started, begin now or abandon it entirely.

It is very possible to get sick of something you once loved doing. Attempting to turn something into a successful business is quite likely to suck the fun out of it. There will always be obstacles to overcome and if you try push through them too quickly by working too hard, you’ll get sick of what you were trying to achieve. At that stage you really need to take a step back and some time out, because you’re in danger of screwing it up. After some time you may well get back into a place where you love doing it again.
(I’m always sceptical of  people that are overly passionate about their business… it probably means they haven’t hit any of the many inevitable problems they face yet).

People don’t care about products. Very few end users of products such as web apps really have much concern for those that they use. No one product is a panacea for life in today’s world. If it disappeared for some reason a large chunk of facebook’s user base would probably be mildly frustrated for a moment and then just get on with their lives. And this is a big tech company we are talking about.

If you want progress, it helps have patience and be prepared to change.

We live in a culture where praise is massively outweighed by criticism, take it seriously when people say you’ve done a good job and use positive feedback to figure out what you’re fantastic at doing. Take on criticism as well, but don’t forget that a few words of praise being so rare is worth an awful lot.

Well that’s about it for now. I wanted to make this a fairly general post accessible to a much wider audience than my usual. Sometimes its important to take a breather and unload what is on your mind, and hopefully you might find some part of it interesting. I’ll be back soon with an introduction to programming using Prolog, a mouse and some cheese! Look out for that soon. In the mean time for me and probably many thousands of others across the country at the moment, it is back to revision :(

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