Here we go again. I have decided to stop pursuing my Communications major in Mass Media Studies. Last semester I signed up for a double major in Math, and this coming semester will be my second without communications classes.
When I started school at FSU I was sure that I wanted to be a Computer Science major. I already had a couple years experience with Java programming and had spent plenty of hours doing less scientific things with computers such as hacking Diablo 2 and playing other games. After a few semesters of programming classes I decided that the CS curriculum was not for me. I was finding that the things I wanted to learn were much easier to pursue on Google and I was gaining real experience at work. I already knew my motivation was something besides working on computers, I wanted to do something with them. So I looked to a communications degree.
I took two semesters of Communications before I felt something missing. The two legality classes were interesting, since I am very interested in the law related to technology and freedom of speech. They gave me a general overview of the history of communications law, but they did not give me a much more indepth picture than I had already formed by reading wikipedia, eff and the blogs of several prominant bloggers. In one class I was provoked into thinking deeper about the concept of wikis and in particular wikipedia. The format of the class annoyed me at first, but I ended up liking the discussions. What I felt was missing was the puzzle. I have a hunger for puzzles, and I knew that Math would satiate that hunger. I think it has something to do with the consistancy and the absolute truths math provides. I have always loved math, and I have never truely applied myself to it. Finally I decided to do something about that and I signed up for a double major.
Studying communications isn’t about solving puzzles, it seemed to be more about identifying relationships between information and people, and how to measure those relationships. While I still find that to be an interesting subject, like Computer Science, I don’t want my schooling to get in the way of my education. I want more time to focus on math classes. I feel like math is a study where guidance helps me a lot. I believe the incremental style of accumulating knowledge in math, and how interrelated everything is lends itself well to academic study. While learning most everything requires practice, I think math lends itself better to being taught becasue relationships between concepts can be explained.
In Computer Science and Communications, I think the most useful concepts are acquired by real life experience. Furthermore, if one can express a concept in mathematical terms, implementing it on a computer is fairly mechanical. In my experience the hard part of programming (besides getting your platform to not frustrate you to no end) is conceptualizing the problem in terms that you can program. Since this conceptualization can and is usually mathematical in nature, math is then the hard part of programing. The implementation is just a google search away. In Communications most of the concepts I have run into are up for debate, supported or criticized by academic studies and hardly ever have a solid foundation in absolute truth. I should just say that Communications is an emperical field, that sounds less negative. While I find those concepts interesting, I found that I had already taken part in the debates, and I had plenty of resources to continue those debates on my own. It also really grinds my nerves to study empirical subjects for some reason (which is why I am able to loathe physics yet love math)
One subject I also enjoy studying immensely is Chinese. Language has increasingly become an interest of mine, and learning such a different language as Chinese has been a great challenge and lots of fun. I didn’t have a real reason to start studying it, except to be able to speak a little when I went on vacation with Jimmy to Taiwan. What started as a little intro has grown into a new major! Either this spring or the coming fall FSU is set to launch a Chinese major. Having completed over 20 hours of the language courses, and several hours of cultural courses, obtaining the major should not take too many more hours.
So now my two majors will be Mathematics and Chinese. People have mockingly called me a Renaissance man, but I don’t see it that way. As I said in the begining of this post: I don’t want to build computers, I want to use them. This interest has not changed since I started programming in middle school. Now it is embodied in my studies through math which lets me understand the best ways to solve problems, and chinese which gives me the very interesting problem of translation. While my emphasis on what I apply computers to tends to shift as I learn more, it invariably involves computers, math, and language (communication if you will).