hacking a problem not a computer

Saturday and Sunday were spent at a Hackathon hosted by Big Radical. There were six groups trying to find the best way to help people who are trying to be supportive to a person with depression. I found the first day much more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I learned a lot about the process of creating ideas and being patient with individuals who may not know as much as you do about a certain subject, like depression, but feel the need to constantly talk. By the end of the day, we created Lola who was our client and Ava who was a personable program that can provide play by play support during a conversation. Ava can also simulate practice conversations for people who are nervous and want to run through difficult conversations before talking to the person they are trying to support. I found our idea rather safe and like done before but our more daring ideas definitely had privacy conflicts and conflicts with a diagnosis coming from a machine.

Day two was much more stressful. We had to now make our idea a physical prototype and half of our team just didn’t come back for day two. I also was personally drained from doing extrovert activities the day before that I personally wasn’t prepared to be super helpful day two. I was also pushed over the edge with an activity called extreme yoga, never again am I going to crawl on a floor under a bunch of strangers on video. Day two ended with presentations. I didn’t feel prepared or proud of our product. I actually had a really hard time standing behind it during the presentation. Finally, we got through the award ceremony and I could go back to the hotel room to be alone and recharge.

The weekend as a whole was a great experience which resulted in good connections for UMass Lowell as well as individual students. I am more confident in my ideas but and now extremely worried about my future as a designer being as anxious and introverted as I am. I’m┬ásure everyone took something different away from the Hackathon, but I know we all got at least one positive lesson, experience, or connection from it.

Regina’s group presenting their idea.