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Awhile back, gconnor wrote that he is passionate about fighting email spam. I would like to explore this again if he and others have time.

What is it about email spam that you (gregc) are passionate about? Is it the technical/intellectual challenge of fighting email spam? Or do you feel it's your duty as a netizen to defend the net against spam? Are you just tired of seeing it in your inbox and figure the best way to make it go away is to join the cause? Something else?

As this applies to me and click fraud, to be honest, I am not passionate about it and would rather not have to deal with it. I would have much rather spent time making all aspects of processing the logs more reliable and robust than identifying click fraud. I during a discussion in my group about identifying the country of origin of an HTTP access, in response to my insistence that it couldn't be done meaningfully (because the person or program doing the access could be anywhere in the world), said that I was passionate about that (as opposed to, say, database administration techniques). I don't think so ... I just wanted to make sure people's energy was focused on pressing problems that could actually be solved. Rather than expend lots of energy on something with no practical solution, I would have preferred that AV run itself in such a way that it did not depend on being able to identify the location of a user, etc.

On a more general note, I don't think I'm passionate about any part of computer science. There are lots of things I like in computer science, but that is true of other things as well (see my interests). Perhaps the closest I've come to being passionate about something was listening to pop music countdowns (Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, and so forth). I would go to a lot of trouble to listen, even if it meant trying to tune some distant radio station.

What does passion mean to you with regards to your career? life?


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2005 12:52 am (UTC)
I think it's safe to say I'm passionate about my broadcasting career and always have been. I can't explain what draws me to it so -- perhaps the electricity, the excitement, the variety of tasks involved. Whatever it is, I love this industry, for better or for worse.

There are hours and conditions I'm willing to put up with to do this for a living that I'm not willing to put up with for other things, such as working in software. I think that's what passion really means.

To be successful long-term in the entertainment industry in any way, IMHO you have to be passionate because there are so many obstacles thrown in your way.
Jun. 22nd, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC)
A very good question... and probably there are multiple answers, multiple contributing factors.

1. I love email. I have been using email for a long long time, 1990 for actual internet mail, earlier for BBS forms, probably 1984. Email is great and wonderful and there's nothing else like it, and I feel that strongly. Mailing lists were my first exposure to "online community" as a concept. My interest started as a way to escape the "real world" community, but it soon became an integral part of my "real" life and there's a lot of crossover.

2. I hate spam. This is a natural combination of my love of the medium, and the observation of what has happened to it in the last several years. I'm passionate about loving email, so I'm defensive and angry about how spammers spoil it. I tell people at work "I'm not allowed to kill spammers with a claw hammer anymore; it's a condition of my probation". It usually gets a laugh but then they start to wonder :)

3. I'm good at tracking email. I have a long history as a Listserv/Mailman list owner and server operator, work-related and personal/community/volunteer. I am able to quickly trace an email via headers and I've gotten good at setting up mail servers.

The combination of "I'm good at it" and "I'm passionate about it" is a lucky one, and probably a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. I think the enjoyment part came first, and I got good at it as a consequence of being so interested in it. If I had not been as interested, I would probably not be compelled to be good at it, and I wouldn't take so much pride in it.

My theory is that anything I'm interested in and choose to spend time in, in a way that gives me energy rather than draining me, I will naturally get better and better at it. And if I'm not the best in the world, but I manage to make a living doing something I like, that's cooler than making big bucks doing something that I'm drained after 8 hours.

I expect that my interest in spam fighting will not be forever. It used to be that I was passionate about computers in general, then about system administration/unix in general, now the spam/email is the latest trend and the most specific so far, but I may swing toward being interested in something else. If it's something else slightly sideways-related then I at least won't be starting from scratch.

Does that answer what you were asking? (I enjoy talking about my interests, so ask more questions if you've got 'em)
Jun. 25th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC)
What caused you to lose passion for computers in general, then sysadmin?
Jun. 25th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC)
Probably nothing caused me to lose feelings for certain things, but perhaps the best way to describe it is that the shine and luster of it became muted over time...

At first it was a feeling that I really loved computers and didn't like or dislike anything specific about them. As time went on, I found that the subject and material were broad and expansive enough that I could probably spend 10 lifetimes learning it all, so I gravitated toward certain parts of it that I liked better.

I imagine my area of focus may change more in the future, probably not by any specific event or action, but by finding out new areas I haven't yet explored and spending more time on those. The most likely thing is that I'll find something that is not exactly the same but somehow related or tied in.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )