Art Isn't Just For Artists

Hello Interwebs,

My name is John Huynh and this is my first programming related blog on GitHub.
Why am I starting a blog now? I want a venue to express my view on the world
and I have been reading The Lean Startup. To be more specific, the book
convinced me to take the plunge and just start writing. With your feedback,
I might just become a decent blogger/writer. Welcome to my landing page and
rant center. :D

My Personal Statement

I want to begin my journey in the blogging world with this: my graduate school
application's personal statement.

I like to believe that I am an artist at heart. Ever since I can remember, I enjoyed creating things. Whether it was transforming robots built from LEGOs, painting murals for my hometown, Lowell, or assembling my first computer at the age of 10, I have always had this unrelenting desire to create meaningful and useful things. I get a sense of excitement learning new tools and techniques of a trade: learning to paint, or learning to finish wood with an industrial power sander. Why did I bring that up? That is because I want to begin this paper by answering the question, “Why a graduate degree in computer science?”


If you compare art and computer science, there are some glaring similarities. Art glorifies creativity. In order to express that creativity, artists must develop a strong skill set and knowledge base. By developing deft control of tools, mastery of techniques, and an understanding of the chosen medium, artists can manipulate the properties of their skill set and knowledge to create something unique and expressive. However, creating unique art isn’t enough. Great artists strive to push the boundaries of the medium. Similarly, programmers, before they can create, must develop a strong foundation. This foundation is built from an understanding of the platforms they are developing for, programming languages, tools, and mathematics. With a strong foundation, programmers can manipulate code to achieve efficient applications, overcome complex problems, and create something cool. Computer science is a constantly evolving field that adapts to the latest technology and paradigms. In order to survive, a great programmer must be a pragmatic, constantly expanding his or her understanding of computers and seeking to improve his or her programming skills.


What I am getting at is that computer science is an art form. It glorifies creative solutions to complex problems; it demands a strong foundation, it requires constant growth. To answer the question, “Why a graduate degree in computer science?” I want to be a computer scientist because I love creating cool, useful things. I have always had a passion for creating things and coincidentally, I love computers -­‐ so computer science was an obvious choice. I want to pursue a graduate degree in computer science because I want to be a pragmatic programmer. A bachelor’s degree in computer science isn’t enough. Working as a programmer and picking the brains of senior programmers isn’t enough. Learning objective C in my free time and developing iOS applications isn’t enough. In conclusion, given my current experiences and knowledge as a programmer, I want to pursue a graduate degree so I can develop a stronger foundation that will enable me to push the boundaries of my artform.

Now that I'm am slightly older...

I wrote that in the fall of 2011 at the ripe young age of 21. At the time, I
was working at a medium sized, military subcontracting company. I was
developing optimized C algorithms for the x86 platform, hadn't read
"The Pragmating Programmer", and was only vaguely aware of the terms "Git" and "startup". To put things in perspective, our source control software was Clearcase. Go ahead and google that puppy.

I was rooted in an older world where all of our work was tied with the OS and
hardware. It was fun trying to squeeze performance out of our code, which would
ultimately be used in some image processing program. However, if you actually
read my personal statement, you would know that I wanted to create things.
Solving interesting puzzles here and there is fun, but I would rather solve
those puzzles as a part of something that I can immediately see people
using.

Since then, my career has changed and I am much happier for it. I work at a
startup in Cambridge using Ruby and Rails. We use enterprise Github and I am
constantly learning. I am a new comer to the world of web development, but I
regularly attend the BostonRB meetups am absolutely amazed by the giants in
field.

I am not detered by how little I know. In fact, I see it as an opportunity to
grow and prove myself. I hope that this blog will serve as a platform to
chronicle my growth in the world of programming as I struggle, create, and
explore.

Follow-up

I am definitely interested in hearing what you guys think; however, this blog is
still young and I have not had the chance to add things like 'comments' and
'likes'.

Bear with me for the time being and if you want to contact me try my Twitter
handle jnhuynh.