Adventures in Korea – Week 11 – Akrasia

Third definitely-less-weekly post on my stay in Korea.

Let’s not beat around the bush. I promised my family I would update weekly, aaaaand I haven’t updated for a few weeks. They’re probably very disappointed in me. I don’t know, I delete their mails without reading them. They’ve probably disowned me by now. Getting back to France might be difficult.

Okay, seriously though: I’m sorry I don’t update more regularly. I’m not going to burst into tears and list of the terribly hard things I’m working on, but the basic fact is: sometimes I’m motivated, sometimes I’m not. When I do get a burst of doing-productive-things energy, I have a long pile of homework and projects (both personal and school-related) to spend it on, and by the time they’re done I rarely have any productivity left for writing. Sorry.

Anyway, Korea! It’s great! Let’s talk about it instead.

Culture

Yes! Because I’ve stayed in Korea for months! So I know a lot about Korea now, right?

Um…

Okay, here’s the thing. I haven’t really been exposed to Korean culture. I’ve passed up on Korean culture classes, and I don’t go to the International Lounge’s events (and honestly, they all sound really boring). But more importantly, I haven’t met many Korean people; those I met didn’t speak English terribly well, and mostly wanted to talk to me to get some practice. The international people I know are American and Chinese. All my classes are with French students.

Beyond that… I don’t really have any good excuse. I’ve never been very interested in most cultural things, be it from my own culture or others’. I don’t do tourism. I guess if you expected to get great insights on Korea from this blog, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m here to learn and to program.

Learning

I’ve said in my previous post that I felt the pedagogy of the classes I was in was terrible. Let’s expand on that.

First off, some background. Epitech students come from everywhere and can have wildly different profiles, but they usually have two common characteristics:

  • They’re complete morons who have no sense for the value of money (seriously, why are we spending 9.000€ a year on this again?).
  • They are very smart people who completely despise the traditional education system, and are ready to spend ridiculous amounts of money to get any form of education that deviates for it but is still recognized by the rest of society.

As an Epitech student, my perspective is the following: institutionalized school is insane, and systematically dysfunctional (I’m using systematic in its literal “these problems from the nature of the system” sense here).

There’s probably a thousand dysfunctions in the school system, and I’ll probably talk about them all eventually, but I’ll keep my point simple for now: schools are incentivized to look like they’re teaching things over making actual learning happen.

I don’t think schools are even really necessary anymore, except for child keeping. We’ve had the printing press for centuries now, and the internet for decades. The world’s best encyclopedias are at out fingertips for free. I’m not speaking theoretically: I’ve learned more this year from internet tutorial than from hours of listening to teachers (most computer science teachers rip off internet tutorials anyway).

I think that the problem is, essentially, that we’re afraid of doing nothing. We’re afraid of telling kids “There’s a computer, there’s an internet connection, now do something productive” and sit back without adding twenty layers of rules and paperwork for the kid to objectively prove how productive he was.

And I say that knowing that my brother spends every free day he has browsing the internet all day. Just telling kids to do what they want isn’t enough, you need to motivate them. There’s a whole domain of science out there that we’re not really exploring, because we keep relying on the crutch of “Sit on this chair until you’re allowed to go, do your homework, do the tests and the exams or you’ll be punished”, and using as a substitute for proper motivation.

I dunno. This is kind of a disjointed rant; I’ll try to structure it better later.

Programming

I’ve joined a new EIP group called Molecule. We’re working on a set of extensions to the Atom editor to make it into a full IDE. This is kind of the quintessential computer science project: we’re working with programmer tools on a programmer tool to make into a better programmer tool. Not exactly ending world hunger here.

Regardless, it’s fun so far. I’ve only been working with them for two weeks, and I’ve been starting slow, but I like the problems I’m working on.

I’ve also started to learn OpenGL, thanks to a great book on the subject I found online.

OpenGL is… a thing, it’s not exactly a library or even an API, it’s an API specification. The idea is, there’s an institution called the OpenGL Architectural Review Board which says “For version 3.8 OpenGL implementation must have feature X and feature Y”. Then, graphic card vendors design their next GPU to have feature X and Y, as well as drivers for your CPU to call these features; then they say “our next GPU MegaGraphicForceX is OpenGL 3.8-compatible”.

Anyway, OpenGL is an API used by most platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, IOS, etc) and virtually all graphic cards for 3D rendering. Knowing how to use it is basically mandatory to design a game engine, which is one my current projects.

I’m also doing a few video game projects with Unity as part of the university course.

Conclusion

I have things to do and there is no conclusion. See you later.