Deep Hobby and The Redefinition of Experts

My latest fascination is a book titled The Martian by Andy Weir. The book tells a survival story of Mark Watney, an astronaut accidentally left alone in planet Mars. With limited equipments, Watney need to find a way back home to Earth while constantly surviving in a hostile environment of the red planet. From ion thruster to the spaceship gravity assist, The author referenced a lot space real world exploration technology complete with several brief explanation. Albeit the heavy use of space lingo, The Martian managed to tell very gripping story of struggle and survival.You can still enjoy it even if you dont know anything about space at all.

I personally rate this book as the best fiction ive read so far this year, close to Max Brooks World War Z.


After finishing the book, i was interested to find more information about Andy Weir. In this episode of Youtube talk show hosted by Mythbuster’s Adam Savage, Weir talked about how he got deep understanding about the related science regarding space travels. Surprisingly, Andy Weir is a computer programmer. Space exploration is merely his obsession, something he enjoy reading and digesting at his own spare time. Its amazing because in the video he explained sophisticated concept such as Delta-v in a very casual manner. The trait expected coming from an expert with years of work experience in NASA, not from computer programmer with a space hobby.

This reminds me of another story of Brown Moses.

Pic was taken from here

Elliot Higgins is a highly respected weapons expert and news contributor specializing in Syrian conflict. His report has been cited by no other than Amnesty International and New York Times. Similar to Andy Weir, Higgins had never worked in the area related to weapons or military. In fact,  he has never set foot in Syria. Elliot Higgins is a blogger. He did his weapon research by sitting in his living room, going through thousands of Youtube videos. What started as a hobby has now become his expertise.

Looking at both story of Andy Weir and Elliot Higgins, we see the redefinition of the so-called experts.  As the internet continue to democratize information, more and more knowledge are no longer confined in the walls of academia professional body. Given enough hours and dedication, an obsessive hobbyist can have the same (or even better) credentials with scholars and professionals.

These two may be exceptions and cant be considered as a phenomenon yet but im curious of what happens if we see more and more example like these. To some extent, work experience and academic degree might be replaced by blog posts or other creative proof of expertise. Parents will probably put their children’s hobby as important as their formal education.

Moreover, people will be deemed expert by the quality of their work rather than their academic or professional background.

RIP Yahoo Pipe

Kemarin, Yahoo mengumumkan penutupan beberapa layanan lama mereka yang cukup obscure seperti Yahoo Pipe, GeoPlanet, Placespotter . Bukan hal mengejutkan sebenarnya. Mantan pemain besar Internet di tahun 2000an ini sepertinya terus kehilangan relevansi terus menerus seiring waktu. Siapa disini yang masih memakai email yahoo ? saya bahkan tidak ingat kapan terakhir kali login ke Ymail. Lama kelamaan, Yahoo mungkin akan menjadi relik nostalgia untuk generasi internet 2000an seperti layaknya Geocities atau Friendster. 

Yahoo Pipe

Yang menarik perhatian saya di berita ini adalah Yahoo PipeLayanan Yahoo ini berfungsi melakukan ektraksi dan manipulasi terhadap konten web. Sedikit susah dijelaskan sih tapi fungsi ini mirip seperti apa yang dilakukan IFTTT sekarang.  Continue reading

Recommended Readings #9 – Postmortems

With the increasing portrayal of startups in the mainstream media from Social Network to Silicon Valley tv series, getting into startup is probably the coolest things to do nowadays. The possibility of a billion dollar valuation plus the extravagant job perks , whats not to like ?.

However, beneath its shiny promises, startup had 90 percent failure rates. Highly successful startups such as Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB are the exception not the rule. In fact, startup who achieve that kind of success were called unicorns because of the near-fictional occurrence. With that kind of rate, failure in startups is expected rather than something to be shameful of.

Recommended Readings 9 - Postmortem

In this edition of RR, i recommend several articles where founders shared lesson-learned from fail startups which are commonly known as postmortems. Straight from the mind of battle-scarred founders, postmortem served as both knowledge and reality check for everyone who wants to start their own ventures. Continue reading

Hiphop Indo Playlist

My plan for this mayday holiday was to be productive. Finish one or two unread books or maybe blogging about something smart. But due to unforeseen circumstance, the plan goes out to the window. I spent the whole afternoon watching youtube instead.

By unforeseen events, it was me discovering Black Book, a documentary about Indonesian hip hop created by Hiphopindo. Blackbook tell the chronicles hiphop movement since the release of Pesta Rap. It was so damn good, i spent entire evening checking most of the featured artist. Cant recommend it enough, go check it out.

Still in an attempt to be productive while being Blackbook still lingering in my mind, i created list of several dope local hip hop track which i think everyone should listen to.

HipHop Indonesia Playlist

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How Can Coding Help You ?

Ahmad Mukhlason, senior di kampus dulu yang sekarang sedang menempuh studi lanjut di Nottingham, menuliskan artikel menarik tentang fenomena banyaknya mahasiswa jurusan IT yang tidak familiar dengan programming / coding di jurusan Sistem Informasi ITS. Ditulis dari sudut pandang dosen, beliau berpendapat bahwa menjamurnya kepemilikan laptop, gadget dan sosial media membuat mahasiswa menjadi manja. Kemudahan akses ini membuat mahasiwa menjadi malas belajar pemrograman dan semangat belajarnya tidak setinggi mahasiswa di era sebelumnya ketika akses masih susah.

How Can Coding Help You

Saya kurang setuju dengan pendapat diatas. Selain karena sudut pandang yang diambil terlalu negatif, ini adalah contoh umum  my-generation-is-better-than-yours bias. Kalau benar minat belajar pemrograman menurun di kalangan mahasiswa yang akan lulus dengan gelar sarjana komputer, hipotesa saya maybe we are not focusing enough on the golden questions.

How can coding skills help me in life ?

Menjawab pertanyaan diatas dengan argumen “because you have to” atau “we know better whats good for you” tentunya tidak akan efektif untuk generasi yang lahir dengan informasi di jari mereka.

Berkaca pada pengalaman sebagai mantan mahasiswa, mantan programmer dan pekerjaan saya sekarang yang sudah tidak berhubungan dengan programming lagi, saya mencoba pertanyaan diatas di tulisan ini.

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W-Day Playlist

This is my first post written with a ring in my hand. I left my single life behind around a month ago when i said my vow and took this lady as my beautiful wife. We had our modest reception party in a hall inside government office in Kalibata which was festive, fun and much much more joyful than me and Sari had ever imagined before.

W-Day Playlist 2

Speaking of reception, I had a silly pet peeves about this. Far too many reception that i attend had the same song played over and over again, usually its Bubble’s cover of L.O.V.E, Diana Ross’s Endless Love or Shania Twain’s From This Moment.  Theres tons of other beautiful love song out there, this repetitive trend needs to change.

Hence one thing on the top of my wishlist for wedding reception is to pick, plug and play my own song. Im going to stand straight for two hours anyway, might as well do it with some music that i enjoy.

That and also i cant afford live band. Freakin expensive man.

Here are several songs i picked to be the soundtrack of my W-day. Lets start with the first one

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Book Club #1

Have you heard about how Mark Zuckerberg crowdsourced his 2015 resolution? it was pretty cool. After bombarded by thousand of ideas such as releasing hip hop albums or planting trees for every facebook user, Mark Z chose to read new book every month. Surprisingly his resolution got so popular, every book that in Mark’s reading list become instant best seller.

I love books. Seeing Zuckerberg being the newest authority on book reviews tickled me to write my own version of this. So heres the first post of Book Club, a yet another column in my blog where i write about interesting books that i recommend.

Book Club #1

Heres the thing, according to Kemdiknas only 1 out of 1000 Indonesians have serious interest in reading. Im not aiming to achieve the same gravitas as Mark Z but if i can make a person read one new book, thats already count as my personal achievement.

Books are awesome, lets make more people read good books. Here we go

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