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When I was deciding what topics to study in college, I had several options.  Computers were cool, but I didn’t own a computer and thought it was a pre-requisite (this was back in the ’80s when computers were expensive and nobody had e-mail).  Science seemed a viable option, but I didn’t think I had the mindset to be a research scientist.  I liked being in front of people and liked having my summers free, so I finally settled into teaching science, Physics to be precise. Never did I think about going into Databases or Economics because they seemed stodgy and boring.  These days, I find myself wishing I’d looked a little more at those areas. Databases were a topic in computers that I could have looked into, but in my mind databases were “those old things with the spinning tapes that are used at banks”.  They seemed like huge storage devices that were tended to by old, boring guys wearing white shirts, black ties, wingtip shoes and horn-rimmed glasses.  “No way I want to be that square, daddio!”  But it turns out databases also let you find connections amongst the pile of information you wouldn’t normally get.  Not only can you find the needle in the haystack,  you can take the haystacks and make a jungle gym with the hay.  It’s precisely that sort of thing that started the modern web, but I was too stuck in my old world-view to recognize it.  It took a kick in the head by a co-worker I very much respected to start to realise you could use databases to do some awesomely cool stuff. Another topic is Economics.  Again, I was not interested in becoming a CPA or a banker. . . though banker’s hours does sound appealing.  It wasn’t until I’d heard about Economic Game Theory that I reconsidered my thoughts.  Being able to deterministically predict group irrational behavior is pretty awesome.  The Prisoner’s Dilemma writ large.  People acting against their own interests in clear, predictable ways is fascinating.  It took much discussion over many years of applied economics to turn my opinion around.  Now that that’s happened, I’ve been reading up on it in my not-so-copious spare time.  Being able to have done this back in college with actual professors, tutors and other resources would have helped my understanding and made the climb up that mountain of knowledge easier and more enjoyable.  So, I’ll continue on learning the old-fashioned way. But, I’m definitely going to expose my kids to as much as I can, and encourage them to look deeper than just the surface when deciding what things are worth investigating further.  While I hope they actually listen to me, if history is any judge they’re likely too pig-headed to actually listen to their parents. . . just like their father was when he was young.