Saturday, May 3, 2008

About Me

Details updated June 7, 2010

I've always hated writing 'About Me' sections. In my view writing should be about the content, not the author, but since when did the world work the way I want it to? And I have to admit, it does make sense for a first post.

Who are you?

I'm Eric Burnett. Currently I am a software engineer at Google, working on Ad Exchange. This blog is not about my work, however, so don't expect much in that direction. Prior to this I was at the University of Waterloo earning a bachelor's in Computer Science1, a topic on which I would be happy to field questions :).

I have always been fascinated by computers, and since I was in elementary school I knew I would end up in a career working with them. My first exposure to programming came actually quite late, when I was 15 or 16. I took a summer school course that had us making games in Macromedia Director (now Adobe Director) using its custom scripting language. That was also my first exposure to the realities of our industry: the game I was making didn't get completed on time, even with features cut. Despite that, I immediately found myself fascinated by programming and understanding the magical world inside the computer, and so during the next year I taught myself C++. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then I have learned that it doesn't matter what language or tools you are using; programming is just a realization of the thought process of the programmer. From my point of view it doesn't matter what you know, any programmer worth their salt can learn what they need to know in short order. What matters more is how you think, and that's the part that fascinates me. This blog is part of that: in part, it's the story of my quest to know what makes us tick.

Why start a blog?

That's the real question, isn't it? I've been reading blogs for a couple years now, but recently I've found myself with ideas that I want to share, and nobody to share them with. I don't know if anyone will ever read this, but if nothing else the act of writing these ideas down forces me to think them through in a way that pure contemplation never quite does (more on that later). Posting this is both a challenge and a commitment to myself to keep thinking, questioning, and finding new insights that are worth sharing.

The strongest inspiration for this blog has come from reading Coding Horror, one of the most widely read programming blogs out there. If you haven't heard of it, I suggest you go take a look. I have a long list of other blogs that I read, but it was this one that showed me the power of a blog – Jeff Atwood consistently made me think. It also happens to be well written and humorous – hell, even the format of this post was borrowed from Jeff's About Me page.

Where can I find you?

Feel free to drop me an email at I can't promise I'll respond, but it will always get read.


  1. Technically, I earned an Honours Bachelor's of Mathematics in Computer Science Co-op degree, with a minor in Combinatorics and Optimization. But don't hold that against me.
  2. This doesn't hold for blog comments. On small blogs comments can work fine, but the more popular a blog gets, the harder to manage comments get. Part of this is from real spam, but technology is helping mitigate that. A larger part is just the nature of blogs: blogs are an open discourse, person to world. But their comments are a two way conversation, and relatively quickly there are just too many participants for any one person to follow. It doesn't help that the signal to noise ratio is usually quite low for blog comments, but I think the problem is systemic.

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