It has been quite a roller-coaster ride. I was supposed to write a single post for December, but thanks to some creative procrastination, I guess I have to settle for a combined post for both months.
After HackTrain in November, things have been moving swiftly on that front. The start of December saw our team’s participation in the post-hack reception (for HackTrain). We pitched our idea to a different set of judges and ended up as first runner ups this time around. This has translated into 25k GBP worth of accelerator funding. Have scheduled a meeting this Monday with the commercial director of one of the train-operating-companies and I have no idea what is going to occur. They seem rather open-minded to external sources of innovation, but my gut feeling is that the lines that they run do not require congestion easing solutions (should actually definitely do some research on this!). In any case, I am quite pessimistic about the chances of actually getting our project launched, but we shall see.
I apologize in advance for this laconic and extremely dry recounting of events. It is not that I do not want to better engage you, the reader, and also bequeath the future me a better understanding of the range of thoughts that I have had, but at this point I am plainly emotionally drained. It has been 7 months and 13 days, but yet I don’t think that I have really managed to move on. The two weeks or so have been extremely low points. There are many tasks to be completed and various responsibilities to attend to, but there are days that I just cannot muster the energy to get stuff done. I am doing things that excite me, especially in the machine learning field and coding in general, but sometimes i just want to curl up into a ball and not think about anything. I cannot fully pinpoint why I am feeling so depressed, but it mostly boils down to a general feeling of loss.
Spent about three weeks of December in the states with yinghang and john. Met up as well with wah loon, sheng, jyen, aaron, and patrick. The trip was slightly costly, but still pretty fun. Many days were spent coding, talking about various technology related topics, and chowing down amazing food. Could probably have attempted to see more the US, but I really don’t rue not having done so. Spent quite some time picking my friends’ brains apart. Each and every one of them have unique skills, expertise and perspectives, and I really wanted to learn all that I could from them.
Am in my third week of school now. It’s the last term of my undergraduate life and my schedule has been nothing short of crazy. Did a charity hitchhike to Rotterdam over one of the weekends (and reminded myself in the process that I really hate asking people for favours), started taking a graduate course on machine learning in school, worked on Qriousity (hmm there are organisation issues that I should really bring up), and I will be going to HackCambridge this weekend (have a few ideas floating around in mind, but considering the amount of code that I need to write for Qriousity, I might have to spend the time in Cambridge working on that instead, which is a shame).
Returning to the idea of Qriousity and startups (for want of a better phrase), one of the projects that I was working on abruptly (although not unexpectedly) broke down. Everyone just drifted away from the project and quietly moved on. What went wrong?
1. Expectations. The team had chosen to work on fashion and design, which was, to be honest, a topic that I had very little interest in from the get go. However I agreed to the topic because I expected one of the team members to bring in her machine learning skills. She didn’t, and naturally my motivation to contribute to the project declined. My unexpressed expectations remained hidden in the shadows, covered with a patina of toxicity.
2. Passiveness. When the project was being steered towards a completely unexciting angle of buying and reselling goods, I failed to express my disagreement. Instead I just turned a blind eye and told myself that ‘they will get it to work. I will let them lead the direction.’ Bad call on my part, and a lesson on being assertive well learnt.
3. The team. A well functioning team thrives on its diversity and upon the different skills that each team member brings with them. The artificial process that led to the creation of this team meant that a lot of us had very similar skill sets as we had all been trained in the same manner, and were pursuing similar degrees. There is no denying that my other team members are extremely talented, but, as a parallel comparison, even if we were to take the best chefs in the world and lock them in a room, they would be unable to solve a homogeneous differential equation.
It’s late. Till then.