Genius Through The Pursuit Of Laziness — Why Being Lazy Makes You A Great Programmer

Genius Through The Pursuit Of Laziness — Why Being Lazy Makes You A Great ProgrammerHolly BillinghurstBlockedUnblockFollowFollowingMar 24With spring making itself known around the Northern Hemisphere, many of us are beginning to feel that natural itch to commence something new — perhaps a diet, clearing out the house, or the urge to start studying for those upcoming exams.

As a species we are experts at short bursts of enthusiasm, followed by wallowing happily in our routines.

My realisation and acceptance that I am inheriantly lazy was the catalyst to creating some of my best work as a programmer & as a teacher.

As a computer scientist my natural reaction to seeing a task is to consider whether I need to do this at all, or if I can automate it.

This slightly odd behaviour is actually at the heart of some of the technological inventions that every one of us takes for granted today.

Looking into the background of why our technology was invented is both amusing, and says much about human nature (or at the least why lazy computer scientists are the best!).

The InternetThe internet as we know it wasn’t invented by just one person, but is actually a number of technologies all connected and built around each other.

The internet is the hardware, or interconnected network that allows data to be sent between devices.

The idea originated with the UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock who proposed his idea for sending data between devices in 1961.

Fed up with posting research between universities, they devised a way to connect two computers and share data files.

On October 29th, 1969 at 10.

30pm, the first ever internet transmission was made.

This paved the way for a myriad of other inventions such as ARPANET, and of course the World Wide Web in 1989 which celebrated it’s 30th birthday on 12th March this year.

Had it not been for computer scientists singing the song of our people (“urgh this is effort!”) over sending each other research files, we may never have had computer networks.

The World Wide WebThought the world wide Web & Internet were the same?.You’d actually be wrong.

What we often refer to as the internet is actually using the World Wide Web — the difference is that the www is the software that sits on the internet that allows us to access the our files & webpages using the a common set of tools.

Ever wondered why the same webpage works on a Windows machine, Mac, phone… even your smartwatch?.You can thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee for that.

His invention of a set of rules for transferring data known as http transformed the way that we were able to use the internet.

Tim Berners-Lee at #Web30 London 2019 — Photo Credit ChalkAndSaltCreating a single protocol (set of rules) that allowed the same document to be used no matter what device was being used reduced the workoad of sharing files exponentially, and the rest as we say was history.

The WebcamHowever, the diamond in the rough of all stories behind the creation of technology has to be the webcam.

That simple camera that we use for selfies, or to chat with others online, or in my case tutor around the world… none of that would be possible if it were not for the abject laziness of computer scientists.

1991, just after the dawn of the world wide web, a group of computer scientists were working on a project at the University of Cambridge.

As with many programmers, they were fuelled by incredible levels of caffeine and discovered that they were wasting time by getting up to check if the coffee was ready.

So they invented the webcam.

By beaming back a moving image of their coffee pot via the network, these computer scientists were able to focus on their work and check if their delicious nectar was ready yet.

Now if that isn’t genius through the pursuit of laziness, I don’t know what is!.

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