Category: Uncategorized

My Sundance 2020 Experience

I was invited by a friend to join the incredible Woodside community in attending Sundance 2020. While I’ve always appreciated a good film, I’ve never been big into movies, and going to a film festival is not something I would ever plan of my own accord. But with a community to attend with, logistics taken care of, and a Utah to explore for the first time, I hopped on the opportunity and headed to Park City for a few days for a taste of the experience.

A Q&A session after one of the movies.

Once I was cozied up with new friends in an adorable Park City house, I hit up the communal ticket collection to decide on what I’d be watching that weekend (like most things in my life, it’s all last-minute decisions). I always love a good documentary, which made up three of my five selections, but I threw in a couple dramas as well. All were excellent choices.

Films I Watched

A Thousand Cuts – This incredible documentary covers Duterte’s rise to power in the Philippines, the drug war, extrajudicial killings, and his powerful disinformation campaign – centered around the experiences of Rappler’s CEO, Maria Ressa, and her staff.

Crip Camp – The film starts at Camp Jened, a summer camp for disabled teens to be themselves in a welcoming setting. We then follow several of the teens over the following decades as they work tireless to advocate for the rights of the disabled, including the enforcement of Section 504 and the passage of the ADA.

Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen – A fantastic documentary that takes an in-depth look at Hollywood’s depiction of transgender people, and how society’s perception of trans characters has evolved over the decades. As I mentioned, I’ve never been a big film buff, and I learned a lot from the insights of everyone who contributed their stories to this production.

I Carry You With Me – An absolutely delightful Spanish drama following the romance between two men, one of whom is out as a gay man. Societal pressure causes conflict and the relationship is put to the test over many years. A rich, beautiful story that I’d recommend everyone watch.

Ironbark (edit: now The Courier) – A historical drama following a British businessman, Greville Wynne, who assists the MI6 with infiltrating the Soviet Union. Wynne befriends his Soviet informant, leading to intense drama and suspense as things start heading south. The plot reminded me of Bridge of Spies, and I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies. I highly enjoyed this one.

Seeing Utah

Having never been to Utah, I also took a full day to rent a car and explore the area surrounding Park City, and I fell in love with the incredible mountainous landscape, freshly covered in snow. One of my priorities in any trip is to find great views of landscapes to photograph, and the area surrounding Salt Lake City does not disappoint. This alone propelled Salt Lake City to the top of my list of potential-places-to-live, I’m looking forward to returning again to give it the proper exploration it deserves.

Little Dell Reservoir

Wikipedia Connection: Year in Review

 

Spring 2016 marked the one-year anniversary of Wikipedia Connection, a student organization I founded alongside several friends at The Ohio State University. The group’s aim is to educate students and faculty about Wikipedia, host events, and otherwise be a resource for anyone looking to edit or learn more about Wikipedia. If you’d like to know more about its inception, check out my post: The Start of Wikipedia Connection

As a way to tie-up the year and showcase our achievements, I created an Annual Report for Wikipedia Connections’ 2015-16 academic year. It’s been a fantastic year of both growth and learning for our students. Our Autumn 2015 workshops drew in an average of ~5 attendees, while our Spring 2016 workshops drew in ~9. What was once just a few students in a study room has turned into events that draw 10+ people; nothing staggering, but promising!

Some Stats for the 2015-16 Year:

  • 30+ unique attendees, which includes students and faculty.
  • 14 new articles.
  • 18 weekly workshops.
  • 4 major events.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: I have much thanks to give to everyone who has helped Wikipedia Connection along so far. The utmost of thanks goes towards my close friends who helped get Wikipedia Connection off the ground; without them, we wouldn’t be around. Another thanks goes to all current officers, advisors, faculty assistants, and the greater Wikimedia community who help make everything we do possible – all of which are mentioned in the annual report.

Going into the next year is pretty exciting. Some of the things our group hopes to tackle:

  • More collaboration with other student organizations. This is already happening as we have become an official backer of HackOHI/O 2016, Ohio State’s largest hackathon.
  • Bring Wikipedia to the classroom as part of the Wikipedia Education Program.
  • Better engage the off-campus Columbus community.
  • Initiate GLAM projects with various Ohio State and Columbus institutions, to bring materials and knowledge to the web.

Here’s to another great year!

Hackcon IV: My Hackathon Conference Experience

 

This last weekend (June 24 – 26) was Hackcon IV, a 350-person conference for hackathon organizers put on by Major Hacking League (MLH). The majority of participants represented college hackathons, and I went to the conference alongside five of my fellow Ohio State students on behalf of OHI/O, the student organization I help organize for back on campus. It was an exciting event as this was my first real exposure to hackathon organizers from around the country.

Hackcon 4 Logo

This season’s Hackcon took place at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The YMCA was nested right in the middle of Rocky Mountain National Park; this was my first time in Colorado and my first time up-close to the Rocky Mountains, so needless to say, the views were breathtaking for me.

YMCA of the Rockies

View from the YMCA of the Rockies

The conference lasted for three days and was filled with keynotes, presentations, and open discussions. While MLH organizers were heavily involved, these activities also included company representatives, professors, and of course, fellow hackathon organizers. Representatives were present from all the event sponsors: GitHub, Microsoft, a16z, KPCB, Brand Makers, Devpost, and Potbelly Sandwiches. This allowed for great networking opportunities, along with getting a chance to learn from professionals’ experiences and their thoughts on the hackathon scene. And of course, with companies comes “swag” – and for all the hackers there, the goodies were pretty much out of this world. We’re talking yellow GitHub education backpacks, countless stickers, shirts, and more.

Hackers are trickling into the auditorium before the kickoff of Hackcon IV.

The auditorium before the kickoff event. Hackers are still trickling in.

We had a lot of fun on the side, too. Mornings and evenings included hikes, and we were free to use the YMCA facilities throughout the day. The night was filled with campfire talks, s’mores, board games, and rap battles (good rap battles, too, which was surprising). The whole conference provided a perfect mix of formal events and informal socialization.

Winnie and I representing OHI/O at Hackcon IV.

Some of the OHI/O team at Hackcon IV.

Photos of me and some of my fellow OHI/O organizers. Photos by Laura Elaine, courtesy of Major League Hacking.

The most valuable thing for me was meeting other organizers. Everyone there was a self-selecting individual that was passionate about their respective hackathon program. Not only did the OHI/O team get the chance to learn a lot from the experiences and ideas of other organizers, but we had a great time simply hanging out and being ourselves. I also know OHI/O brought a lot to the table. We all met countless new people who we hope we manage to stay in touch with.

Through our discussions, I feel like I also managed to take home several key points:

  • Your team is as important as anything else. You should put as much time and effort into building your team, learning about each other, and making sure everyone feels respected and valued as you would organizing the hackathon itself. One of the things I hope our team does a better job of this semester is learning about each other, spending more time together outside of organizing, and making sure we interact in a way that makes everyone feel valued.
  • Most of everything you want to do has been done before. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see how others have done it in the past.
  • Make the event personal. Organizers should go around the room and ask hackers about their projects; not only does it show that people are interested in their project, but it makes the event more personable and provides an opportunity for hackers to practice presenting their project. This not only motivates hackers, but helps boost their confidence to stay at the hackathon all the way through ’til judgement time.

I ended the conference on a high note. I learned a lot as a hackathon organizer, and also on a personal level. I also hope I brought a lot to the table for other organizers. Hackcon is definitely something I’d like to attend in the future – and I’ll have to go back to Colorado to keep exploring those Rockies, too.