Blog It Forward – Thorsten Søbirk
Thanks to Morten Wittrock for passing the baton to me in his Blog It Forward post! If you are unware, as I was, of what this whole Blog It Forward thing is about, please see Blog It Forward – the Sequel! by Susan Keohan.
A brief history of me
I am Danish by birth but have spent a fair portion of my life abroad. My primary school years were spent in the USA, and a few years after graduating university in Denmark, my wife (then girlfriend) and I moved to Scotland, where we stayed for nearly 5 years. I won’t age myself directly, but I will say that over the past several years I have gradually become aware that I have quietly transitioned into the “experienced” part of the workforce and of the population in general. Also, my two daughters are suddenly grown up. In any case, I am lucky enough to get to spend time both with actually older people and with much younger people on a regular basis.
I sometimes channel 10-year-old me, getting my first real experience of computers when my 6th grade science teacher managed to procure 4 Commodore VIC-20s for the classroom. It didn’t take long before I was hooked and had convinced my parents to get one for home. A few years later, the VIC-20 was replaced by a Commodore 64, and the rest, as they say, is history. I majored in Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen and was involved with my first SAP project before I graduated. That project went live with R/3 version 3.1h, if I recall correctly. Since then I have been in and out of the “SAP world” and worked with system integration, software development, architecture, agile methodology, cloud, and much more. Lately, I am primarily focussing on AI/ML and Digital Humans – I’ll be writing more about this in the future.
Music has always been a big part of my life. My sister and I took piano lessons from the age of 7 or 8, and when I was 10 I started playing trombone in the school band. I have been playing the trombone ever since. These days I play regularly in two ensembles: one playing early jazz from the 1920s and 30s and where I am the second oldest member with a few guys only around half my age; the other playing cool jazz from the 50s and 60s and where I am the youngest member.
Other activities include amateur dramatics and musical theatre as well as flying r/c helicopters.
If you were not in your current position, what/where would you be and why?
Before going to university, I considered pursuing music professionally. I am quite happy I decided against that path. I take music seriously, and I have the privilege of playing with musicians who are far more accomplished than myself. But I prefer playing music by choice rather than chasing the next gig in order to make a living. So if I weren’t in IT, I wouldn’t be in professional music, either.
If I hadn’t gone into IT, I think I would have chosen to become a craftsman of some sort, because I enjoy working with my hands and I enjoy making things (physical as well as virtual). Joinery and clockmaking are the two crafts that come to mind when I consider this, because they both involve making beautiful and intricate objects. Clocks have the additional alure of being much like computers in some respects – think of the Antikythera mechanism.
What are some of your favourite podcasts?
I listen to many different podcasts. My three favourites right now are – in no particular order:
- The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – great show about science and critical thinking, very informative and entertaining
- Sean Carroll’s Mindscape Podcast – sometimes mind-blowing, always fantastic conversations with really interesting thinkers
- Lex Fridman’s Artificial Intelligence podcast – thoughtful interviews with people from all kinds of fields about tech, AI, and society in general
I highly recommend these!
If you were 20 again, what would you study?
Why change a good thing? I would study computer science again, but I would add some philosophy. Especially with the advent of AI and the ethical considerations it brings, philosophy is becoming ever more important to computer scientists.
I would like to pass the baton to Michal Krawczyk and Peter Ellebye. Please pick whichever questions you like from other posts, or make up your own.
Hi Thorsten, and welcome to the #blogitforward family!
So if we carbon dated your first SAP Go-live, we would find that (maybe) the Macarena was one of the top songs. I also went live with 3.1h, but I was just a baby back then 😉
I love the 'vintage' picture of you and your jazz band!
Thanks Sue! To be honest, I don't remember which songs were on top way back then 😉
Nice post, Thorsten. I, too, have "transitioned into the “experienced” part of the workforce and of the population in general" although perhaps not so quietly or willingly! Looking forward to more blog posts from you.
Thank you, Audrey.