Lorem Ipsum (or seeing the forest through the trees)

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras ac diam id ligula imperdiet suscipit at non odio.

For anyone who is viewing the preview of this blog, it is not a bunch of nonsensical text. And while this started as a filler title for writing my ideas, I thought that the idea of Lorem Ipsum had interesting parallels to my situation right now.

Lorem Ipsum text has its roots in 1500s printing presses, where typesetters used it in order to demonstrate what a certain style of print would look like. It turns out that the actual text from which much of “Lorem Ipsum” is derived “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, written by Cicero in 45 BC. What I find interesting about this text is the reason why an ancient treatise on “The Extremes of Good and Evil” would become the default filler text for hundreds of years. It turns out that many people, when given a passage to examine, tends to become so preoccupied with the content of the passage that they begin to miss the details of the formatting. Therefore, creating a nonsensical-seeming text allowed the printers (and now in modernity, graphic designers, typesetters, web designers, etc) to focus on the design of their work before filling it with content.

For anyone who knows me well, they have seen that I am hard in the middle of preparation for the CodePSU competition next week. This is very exciting for me, as this will likely be my only CodePSU as president of the ACM, one of the two large Computer Science organizations that hosts the event each year. Even though I was ACM treasurer last year, my involvement with the technical aspects of the competition were minimized because many of our older officers did the heavy lifting with picking the problem sets and managing the logistics. Now, as a second year officer and the president of the club, I am really getting involved with all forms of competition administration, from contacting sponsors to writing problem solutions. And recently, I’ve found incredibly hard, especially as we get close to the competition, to keep myself from getting sucked into the details of each specific task and maintain focus over the whole event.

And I think this is often the case with large projects and ambitious tasks. We become so mired in the details that we lose sight of what we are doing and why we are doing it. I became an ACM officer after my first CodePSU and ICPC in part because I wanted to help run CodePSU (other reasons include: meeting more people in my major, getting the opportunity to make a difference, and helping out younger students), and while the next week will be a busy (and slightly scary) one indeed, I am happy to be doing it.

One Response to Lorem Ipsum (or seeing the forest through the trees)

  1. Christina Boutselis March 25, 2017 at 4:55 PM #

    I think it’s very interesting how you chose to use this story about the filler text as a way to talk about your own upcoming projects. I don’t think many people would have thought to make that connection, but you found the parallels and went with it! I always wondered why the text boxes were filled with Latin. Now that I know the reason, I can’t help but laugh at myself for falling into the trap they intended to avoid: while working on a project once, I get very distracted and decided my time would be best spent translating the filler text. The Latin translations skills I had developed in high school were pretty rusty though, and I ended up just throwing it into Google Translate (which wasn’t that much more skilled). Anyway, your story reminded me of my own, and how no matter how hard we may try to stay focused, we’re bound to get lost in the details every once in a while. I hope your competition goes well and you don’t lose sight of your goals!

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