Today was Open Source Day at GHC2013. I helped make the Android app (from scratch) for Crisis Check-in by Microsoft Disaster Relief. I almost didn’t go.
And at any other conference, I probably wouldn’t have gone. There was a waiting list, and my spot was keeping someone else from going.. someone who probably was understanding the emails that were being sent around, and had the relevant experience in order to contribute to the team. But, yesterday I went to a session that was about preparatory privilege and how teachers sometimes confuse experience with competence, thereby only allowing students with exposure to computer science, for example, into such classes – creating a cycle that is hard for the other students – those capable but under-exposed – to break.
“You know what, I’m a fast learner. Maybe I haven’t done this stuff before, but I have the right skill set and I can be an attribute to my team!” That was what I kept telling myself. And it’s not like I needed to chant it to myself over and over again, I only had to say it once, really, when my mind crossed to thoughts contemplating whether someone else could make better use of my spot. Imposter syndrome, piss off. Today I’m taking this spot because I deserve it, and because probably everyone else is going to be in the same boat. And even if they aren’t – I can learn from them, and this will be a safe and ideal environment to do so. So there! I’m going!
And, we spent a few hours getting everything set up – updating our versions of the development suite, syncing our open source repository… but for the two hours-ish that we were able to actually code, you know it went well, of course. We all knew it would go well. The only person who would think that this wouldn’t go well is perhaps still the only person who thinks that it hasn’t gone well: anyone who expected us to do today, instead of learn. And I learnt many things today: design of apps based on the needs of the user (‘what will be the most-frequent use case? that should be the default page.’), setting up git repositories, xml, java and the android environment variables, how events like this are run.. Probably one of my favourite things that I learnt today was right at the end – I was still coding while everyone had just about left, and our impromptu Android team leader was hanging around out of courtesy to me, I think, but I would likely stay for at least another hour until I felt like I had achieved a bit more. Anyway, I told her how originally I wasn’t going to go to the event, because I didn’t feel I had enough skills or whatever. She herself had made a few apps before and replied – the one who was teaching us everything, pretty much – “neither was I.”