Too much knowledge hindering you?

This is a discussion on Too much knowledge hindering you? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Do you ever have moments where you feel like your large amount of experience or knowledge in a subject actually ...

  1. #1
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Too much knowledge hindering you?

    Do you ever have moments where you feel like your large amount of experience or knowledge in a subject actually hinders you from completing a task? (Rather than lack of experience stopping you from completing a task)

    I am mainly looking at this from a CS perspective. I was talking to one of my friends the other day and he told me about something that he had programmed in the beginning of his programming days' that he thought was really cool, but that now (although much more experienced) he has trouble even reproducing something like it.

    I have had similar experiences in a few things, although I would say that it is not true for the majority of things. But there are a few things that I look back upon and say, "Wow....how did I do that....and I had only 1 year of experience?"
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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    People often lose perspective on how well they've done something in the past over time. This is because at the time they originally completed the task, it was equal to or above their expectations given their current ability in the field. Now, looking back with significantly more knowledge and ability, your friend may be trying to recall the project as being something satisfactory for his current expertise. If, however, he had the source (I don't recall from your post if he said that he did), then he would probably find a million inefficiencies and an overall design that he wouldn't even consider doing today. Now, he's trying to duplicate his result as he remembers it in his head (which is likely well better than it actually was) and he is finding himself inable. However, if he just buckled down and did it to his ability without regards to perfection, he would probably produce something much better than he did the first time.

    Hope this makes sense... when I used to draw, this happened all the time. I would go on hiatus for a month or so, pick up a pencil and I couldn't believe how poorly I was drawing. It would seem that I was significantly worse than a month ago... however, when I went back and picked up my old scrapbook, I'd realize that I was never as good as I was imagining in my head.

    However, with programming... there is one other thing he'd have to consider. Perhaps the idea he's wondering about doing with one year's experience, he didn't actually do, at all. It's a long time ago, so he may have forgotten that he got most of the idea for that particular section of code from a more experience colleague or the internet.

    I don't think too much knowledge can hinder you... only a lack of confidence in the application of your knowledge.

    That's just my feelings on the subject.
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 08-21-2008 at 06:58 PM.
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    Dr Dipshi++ mike_g's Avatar
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    Whenever I look at my od code I always realise how much it sucks.

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    The superhaterodyne twomers's Avatar
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    I'm more in mike_g's category, but there is that saying - Necessity is the mother of all creation.

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    Reverse Engineer maxorator's Avatar
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    Whenever I look at my old PHP code, I realise it is ingenious and wonder if I'd ever be able to reproduce it. Whenever I look at my old C++ code, I, too, realise how much it sucks (but still wonder how I managed to finish such a big thing in so awful coding manner).

    Indeed sometimes I can think 2 hours how to do some easy thing instead of just doing it quickly somehow. The fact that I understand benefits of every possible solution makes it more difficult to choose. Now I also go through my code and see if I could do anything better, instead of going to the next part.

    This feeling that you can't accomplish such things anymore is fake.
    Sometimes I start making an application that seems totally too complex and I don't think I will ever finish it. Then I struggle a few days/weeks and boom... holy macaroni, it's done!!!
    Last edited by maxorator; 08-22-2008 at 02:51 AM.

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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    >> Whenever I look at my od code I always realise how much it sucks.
    Ditto!

    >> Sometimes I start making an application that seems totally too complex and I don't think I will ever finish it. Then I struggle a few days/weeks and boom... holy macaroni, it's done!!!
    Like?
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    Do you ever have moments where you feel like your large amount of experience or knowledge in a subject actually hinders you from completing a task?
    I understand what you mean, but no not really. Granted, I don't know anything...and my code sucks more than mike's
    I'm not immature, I'm refined in the opposite direction.

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    Chinese pâté foxman's Avatar
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    Sometimes I believe I'm getting stupider with age.

    Or maybe it's just that I'm forgetting rapidly. Forgetting something you knew and you knew pretty well frustrates me, and it does happens quite frequently with school, where you get a really good knowledge of "something" but 6 months later (6 months where you did not do anything related with that "something") you find yourself with most of that knowledge gone.
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    I was talking to one of my friends the other day and he told me about something that he had programmed in the beginning of his programming days' that he thought was really cool, but that now (although much more experienced) he has trouble even reproducing something like it.
    That doesn't make much sense to me. From what I've experienced, I can reproduce all the things I made when i started out, in a better way now. Your friend probably lacks the enthusiasm to work on a project which he might now feel is useless, but when he started out, it seemed like something great.
    Code:
    >+++++++++[<++++++++>-]<.>+++++++[<++++>-]<+.+++++++..+++.[-]>++++++++[<++++>-] <.>+++++++++++[<++++++++>-]<-.--------.+++.------.--------.[-]>++++++++[<++++>- ]<+.[-]++++++++++.

  10. #10
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PING View Post
    That doesn't make much sense to me. From what I've experienced, I can reproduce all the things I made when i started out, in a better way now. Your friend probably lacks the enthusiasm to work on a project which he might now feel is useless, but when he started out, it seemed like something great.
    It makes sense. I've gone through old projects before, and I hit something where I'm like "how did I do that??" and it really takes a long minute before you can begin to re-create the project in your head.
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
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    It makes sense. I've gone through old projects before, and I hit something where I'm like "how did I do that??" and it really takes a long minute before you can begin to re-create the project in your head.
    There is a difference between what you are saying and what the OP is saying. Recollecting the niceties of an old project takes a bit of time. Not being able to reproduce it in a better or similar way is something different.
    Code:
    >+++++++++[<++++++++>-]<.>+++++++[<++++>-]<+.+++++++..+++.[-]>++++++++[<++++>-] <.>+++++++++++[<++++++++>-]<-.--------.+++.------.--------.[-]>++++++++[<++++>- ]<+.[-]++++++++++.

  12. #12
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    Here is one fresh anecdotal example:
    Today, I worked on implementing a new feature. Three hours work later it was complete. But I realized it could be further generalized to apply to more use cases (vise-a-vie my CS training and the Hierarchy/Generalization design pattern). Another three hours later that was complete. Soon after, I realized the "general" use case needed updates to a public API, and so would require supporting public data types, etc. After creating the data types, I realized these too could be abstracted.
    Long story short, I ended up abstracting most of the core implementation away to the point of it not even being overly complicated to use just for the original task. I ended up scrapping everything and submitting my original implementation, thus wasting much unnecessary time and effort to flex my analytical CS muscles into spasms.

  13. #13
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    I get the same feeling too sometimes.. and I really hate it, it makes me do some projects x3 (or even more!) times longer then I could..

  14. #14
    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
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    I am always amazed at what I could do with very little programming experience. If you're ever feeling downhearted and disillusioned in your programming skills, run some of your old programs -- preferably ones that you more or less finished.

    At the same time, it's amazing how much your experience changes how you do things. If you leave a program alone even for just a few months, you may come back to it any think, "Why on Earth did I do that?" You'll think of three or four ways you could have done it differently, and better. And you'll end up dumping the project or re-writing it.

    When I look back at some of my old projects (mostly ones that I never finished), I find myself thinking that it would be pretty easy to re-create them. I have a lot more experience now, and I think that always makes things easier.

    The funny thing is, I don't really want to anymore. Finishing such a (relatively) simple program wouldn't be much fun. I guess I like to pick problems that aren't really easy to solve.

    So my conclusion is that more experience makes you pick harder problems. Maybe that's why I never finish anything.

    [I'm not sure how on-topic this rather rambling post is, but it seemed a shame not to post it.]
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    Reverse Engineer maxorator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwks View Post
    So my conclusion is that more experience makes you pick harder problems. Maybe that's why I never finish anything.

    [I'm not sure how on-topic this rather rambling post is, but it seemed a shame not to post it.]
    I never finish things either. I always leave a few details undone and the whole thing stays unfinished... bad habit.

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