As of this moment I’m reaching completion on several projects, in the literary, software, and film worlds. Each one has its ups and downs but I’m finding some overlap between each one. And I’m able to exploit some accidental wisdom conveyed to me at an early age.
There is the inevitable bleed-over between projects for me. These worlds have hazy borderlands that occasionally break down and flood into each other like it’s Samhain all over again. Technology fuels creativity which makes for further thinking and the need to escape back into fiction for a time to cool off that mental processor.
Probably the most useful class I ever took in college was Data Structures. It’s considered by many to be the most boring thing you could ever take, short of Tax Accounting. But not for me. It gave me a cornerstone that I’ve been able to use everywhere in my life.
Rather than give you a mind-numbing overview of the class I’ll boil it down to the important bits.
In computer programming, all information should be held in some kind of structure in memory. Think of it like containers that hold all the different relevant bits of data that, combined, make up something bigger, such as a social networking profile. The type of structure you use will depend partially on the information you’re trying to keep and what you want to do with it.
The professor for the class laid it out for us on the first day of class: if you don’t know what kind of structure you’re going to use, the rest of your software will fail or never be completed.
It was a profound statement that struck me at that tender young age in that lecture auditorium. And it never left me either. Having a good idea of what you want will shape how it is stored, loaded, and searched. And using a well-known structure will make it even easier to build and adapt.
Some of my friends have questioned how I can possibly hop back and forth between all of these diverse projects spanning different industries and sectors. Now I can tell them, “It’s the structures, stupid.”
That, and it helps to be passionate about all of them.