#oSoc16: Open Summer of Emotional Rollercoasters

Hi, I’m Arne, and I work as a project and communication manager for Spitsgids. (I’ve cemented this sentence into my mind for whenever someone tries to finger-gun me in the hallway thinking I’m unprepared). At Spitsgids, we are going to predict how crowded your train will be, so you can leave earlier or later to avoid those nasty busy trains. Let me run you through my diary of #oSoc16, which consists of one single thought for every day when I leave the office. So far, 5 days have passed.

Actually, 6 days have passed, but shhht.


Day 1: well this is going to be difficult… But we’ll get through it


Predicting how crowded trains will be is no easy feat. It depends on variables like work hours, the weather, and the number of sparrows you see flying east at noon. We need to find a working formula that is precise enough so that our crowdfunders will not try to burn the Selor office down, because, as we are still on surprisingly good terms with them, this would be a shame.


Day 2: I am useless and everybody is looking at me like I’m talking nonsense


Every time you arrive in a new group of people, it is likely that you will encounter a brief but strong breeze of anxiety and uncertainty. It is normal, so don’t be scared, and everything will be fine afterwards. Nobody wants to see you unhappy here, we’re just all trying to find a way to communicate, like dogs sniffing each others’ butts.


Day 3: shit shit shit make a Hackathon presentation oh god please


At #oSoc, you are not only programming or making fancy visualizations, because that would be too easy with a deadline in less than four weeks. Additionally, you are also pressured into giving the best of yourself before a bunch of people you hardly know, trying to persuade them that your project honestly is worth at least a little bit of their interest. I think we all did fine the next day, but I’m still waiting for that feedback we were promised, so if mentors are reading this, please and thank you ☺

 Arne Nys giving a presentation about Spitsgids

Day 4: looks like we got this thing finally worked out properly I think… *Pieter walks in* scratch that, we’re still screwed


As I already hinted at, trying to figure out how busy a train will be is not the same as predicting the weather. For the second one, you can just look at the clouds and temperature, while for the first one these are only a few of the explaining variables. Some may state that it’s not rocket science, and I agree, as the first rocket to the moon was flown by a computer with a memory millions of times smaller than that of your smartphone, but with all its needed variables in it. It is way different than rocket science. With other words, we are trying to be more reliable than Sabine Hagedoren and Frank Deboosere combined, with much less laws of physics to base our model on. Good luck to us!


Day 5: back on track… wait, no… alright, back on track, but a different one


If you recently graduated after five years of university, like me, you would recognize the feeling that every decision you need to make during #oSoc not only ignores but plainly insults all the knowledge you acquired during your studies. Before last week, everything was easy, because I could just write about how our mobility system is very complex, and that there is not one truth or one single answer to a problem, and that project managers need to consider all different sides and stakeholders of a certain issue, and then everything will be solved. In our class, we called this ‘zeveren’, and it helped us to get that much-valued Master diploma. Since last week, I have become that project manager, and I actually have to make decisions based on the scarce knowledge we have, within the limited timeframe we have, and it scares me like hell. I love to nuance and think about stuff, and I believe that we should all take more time to consider context in any kind of problem, but in this case, there is no time.
Nevertheless, I am a fighter, and I am certain that we will get something very useful out of all the work we’re doing. Not only for the project, but also for me, personally. So I’ll get back to work now, and I’m curious how the rest of the 11 days left here will end up in my diary.

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