Doing Science, Still Alive

I’m swamped! This post can’t be long as I have to get back to doing stuff.

The KC visit was scheduled in late June–I couldn’t have predicted at the time how booked I’d be on classwork now–and the money was spent back then so it was already a done deal and not something I had a real option of canceling. But I still feel kind of irresponsible about going.

It’s just as well I couldn’t cancel, though. The trip provided some necessary information:

Kansas City is where I want to be.

The maker culture is really strong there. Techies and artists especially, but the general culture of people doing things and creating valuable stuff is flourishing down there. It’s full of the kind of people hackers would deem honorary colleagues, whether or not they’re in technology.

There are some really neat startups there. The “entrepreneurial scene,” as several people described it, is not just present but seems to be growing along with the city.

UMKC is a nice university. I have a few gripes with it, but the main thing I’m looking for there is the other students, and on that measure I think it’ll do well. We were there on a Monday afternoon and everyone looked like they wanted to be there. And like they turned on the lights before they got dressed, which isn’t really something you get at community college. They all looked awake, sober, and friendly. That’s not to say a handful of people weren’t nursing hangovers in unsettling tie-dye sweatpants in their dorms, but I think we saw a good slice of the school and they generally seemed happy. Sizeable nerd population, too.

I spent almost a full week in KC, and, because I was listening for it, I picked up on the city’s message (a la Paul Graham). The same way New York values money, Cambridge values intelligence, Silicon Valley values power, and LA values fame, Kansas City seems to value creativity. Originality. Uniqueness, but not in the stilted, manufactured way found among the “art kids” in a high school. They prize the ability to have new and interesting ideas, and then make something neat with them.

It’s as though I built the place.

That “message,” really, is why I believe the city could grow to be a startup hub. Maybe not one to rival Silicon Valley, but it could probably surpass Boston. Especially since the people are super-friendly, which is not something that happens in Boston.

That was valuable information, and I’m glad I went to get it. But it came with a hefty price tag: my sanity now.

Three out of four of my classes are having technical difficulties. Including Cisco’s networking academy site. (Yeah…) The one that isn’t having issues is Raspberry Signage, my Honors project, because I control the tech involved with that.

One of my classes, which is vaguely named “Innovations in Technology,” is a research class. It’s required. In other words, it’s the school forcing people to do what I do in my free time anyway: research techie things and then write about them. I’ve asked if I can push my papers to this blog as well; they’re basically more formal versions of stuff I frequently talk about anyway.

I was late to form my list of topics, as it was the assignment going on while I was at KC, so someone had already taken Linux (which would have been an easy topic), but that’s probably for the best as I’d have a hard time sifting out my own knowledge and citing everything. I don’t know where all my knowledge came from. Some of it is trial and error (“original research”). Besides, this may mean that a non-Linux-aficionado will work his way into the culture.

I did take open source as a topic, though, even though it’s not a recent innovation; I just want the chance to write about CatB. And startups; nobody claimed tech startups as a topic. Plus I picked a bunch of stuff I saw or worked with at TechWeek: agricultural drones, biotech, IBM Watson/Bluemix. I wanted to research Drupal and Lisp, and I wanted to write about privacy and technology, and a quick Google search unearthed Firefox OS and graphene as two more potentially interesting topics. I hope I can share my writing here; it sounds like maybe something you’d be interested in reading about.

Anyway, I have about eight networking labs to go through, a (mercifully short) research paper to write and then submit on a site that’s being flaky, a 200-page e-book to read on a piece of software I can’t get working, a bunch of little exams to take that aren’t working either, and a long and technical email to put together and send before I’m caught up.

Oh, well. I guess it’s been worse before, and I pulled through. Wasn’t fun though. Here, have a weird song sung by robots about it. I’m gonna have this thing stuck in my head all week, aren’t I? Sigh.


One thought on “Doing Science, Still Alive

  1. Hey Rebekah,

    I just discovered your site and as a fellow Kansas-citian I’m happy to hear you’re liking the city and getting yourself busy and involved.

    I saw you’re looking for a job and I may have some cool opportunities that are right up your alley to look into. Your passion for programming is evident.

    Send me an email when you get a chance,


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