About Metakgp

Dec 13, 2017
11 min

You can listen to this in background Before The Beginning - John Frusciante (YouTube)

:name-retracted: wrote -

I wrote this couple of days ago, I wanted to send it to a private chat. But I don't think I can, so I am sending it here. Of all people at MetaKGP, I surely think I can correspond freely with you.

Hello :name-retracted:, :name-retracted: and :name-retracted:!

I am writing this specifically for you guys because for me MetaKGP has always been defined by you three. (+ :name-retracted: and Himanshu)

I am writing this to talk about my tenure and how I feel about MetaKGP.

Starting from the very start, I always wanted to have a hacker experience. To learn and be someone who could build things to make one's life easier.

In my first year, I refrained from joining other societies and went only for so-called technical societies, I always thought that we have a limited time and time spent on anything else would cut time given to my aim.

Then in the second year, being in :hostel-name-retracted:, Me and :name-retracted: found ourselves working together for OpenIIT Data Analytics challenge. I used to complete everything allocated to me. And maybe that's why :name-retracted: called me for a MetaKGP meetup. I was like damn, there are societies other than the research groups working in tech domain. :name-retracted: had asked me to write on the wiki about JCB, personally, I disliked it. Anyway, I completed it. And then wrote a little more on the wiki (I was copying what everyone was doing), but still the memories I cherished about MetaKGP came from the meetings we had, where we discussed possible projects. (I still think how crazy the idea of a 2.2 bot is.)

Then I saw :name-retracted:'s :project-name-retracted: script, I was astonished how one can create sessions, log in to ERP and automate so many things. :project-idea-retracted:. I had made something of use, not only for me but for everyone.

Then there was a session on sys-admin by :name-retracted:, I tried to learn it, even practiced at room but couldn't get hold of so many things he talked about. I wouldn't try to justify myself here but would definitely say that it was my lack of interest that I didn't give much time to learn it. (At the time I was recently introduced to ML, had mentored the winter workshop on CV)

Then came the third year, I think there was a phase shift. Suddenly we were focussing a little more on advertising MetaKGP. It is necessary that people get to know about MetaKGP and our projects, but we were focussed more on advertising than creating value. I am not undermining the ongoing projects, Naarad came to completion during this time, MFQP-source was going strong. But during this time only one of current third year told me during the meeting, "Ye meeting me bss fundebaazi chalti rahti hai" (He does not come to meeting now)

Then came elections, :name-retracted: asked me and I stood up for contesting. At the same time, Inter-IIT and Inter-Hall OpenSoft were going on, I won't go into much detail but I was very busy. I wrote my proposal in a train journey and sent it to :name-retracted:, I believed that I was going to lose. Even in the vote, I gave myself lowest priority. But thank god I was chosen as a maintainer, I have learned so many things in my tenure.

But this also meant that I had to fulfill what I had written in my proposal (Please don't rebuke on this point, I know it is naive of me to think so), So I started the :slack-channel-name-retracted: channel cause I knew that due to my interest I would read about ML and DL every day and hence posting regularly about it would be easier. And I conducted the :event-name-retracted:, I justified myself that I would get to know how senior people work and think. I learnt a great deal from the :event-name-retracted: but accepting their failure, none of them attracted more people to slack. Most of the people who came to :event-name-retracted: were on my personal invitation, even sharing from GymK page didn't help.

In the summers, :name-retracted: had shifted everything to docker, I thought that this is the time that I can learn about docker and maybe help. I tried to install it, fix some issue. I got stuck somewhere and I left. It was frustrating to work on docker, I just accepted defeat that I won't be of much use for the server.

Now coming to this year: :name-retracted:, :name-retracted:, :name-retracted:, Himanshu, :name-retracted:, :name-retracted: and :name-retracted:, all of them had been great with me. But we were discussing more and working less. As I have fresh memories for this semester, I can recall that we talked about course reviews but never got them, we talked about a fresher intro we never gave, we talked about myriad things we never did. For me, this clearly shows how I failed as a maintainer. I didn't criticize anyone, this is not a good practice. I tried to work on projects: the :project-name-retracted:(a naive project), the :project-name-retracted:(it was almost completed, I mean it builds and runs, but as CIC already caches YT it is not of much use). We got traffic for MFQP-source (IMO this was awesome on the part of :name-retracted: and :name-retracted: for getting this feat). I contributed to the wiki, hoped that this might inspire people to contribute more.

From my experiences, I would try to draw conclusions:

It was foolish of me to believe that bringing more people on slack would help MetaKGP, Until and unless we create value there won't be much to bind us. I don't think we need a lot of people for MetaKGP if we have only 3-5 people from each batch that would be more than enough. We need to promote the Hacker culture in KGP, it doesn't specifically means promoting MetaKGP. We conducted few small lightning talk session amongst us friends this semester, I learnt a lot from that. We at MetaKGP need to stop branding ourselves as a society for everyone, We are (or have become) a technical society whose people have interest in everything. We need to focus more on projects, we, maintainers, created a small roadmap in our last meeting.

[Incomplete and left]

I responded -

Hey :name-retracted:,

It is hard for me to write the words I am about to. It is hard for me to maintain brevity due to multiple strong emotions attached to the subjects. But here I go.

While reading your message, One thing that I felt is best described as Sorry. Yeah. I am sorry I did not support you enough on the cab ride with :name-retracted:, even when I wanted to. I am sorry I did not contest in the elections with you or justified my stance publicly of why not to. I am sorry I mostly acted as if "you are supposed to" and "I might voluntarily" for various tasks, events, and responsibilities. This is not how things work. On one hand, we are trying to get new and enthusiastic people, while at the same time, due to the same actions, MetaKGP is turning other people off, who already existed. I am one of them.

Can I tell you something about Kharagpur Winter of Code? :name-retracted: has started growing a bad taste for it. His problem is "Why are we coaching people for GSoC? We should be promoting hardcore Open Source instead." This is where I differ and agree with him at the same time. Yes, we should be promoting hardcore Open Source. But what would be the perfect strategy? Engineers with jobs, when they have an upfront deadline to ship a product and they need a simple NLP date time parser in Python, they don't go and write one library, they find it on GitHub, which saves their ass. And thereafter, when they create something useful, they return the favor to open source by maintaining projects like React, Angular, etc. So, the question is, why in this world, would any 18-year-old college student would do such thing? What is the value the kid sees? If you promote hardcore open source, 5 out of 1500 would come and 1 would stay. If you promote Google Summer of Code, 400 out of 1500 would come and 30 would stay. And out of those 30, you can definitely be certain that more than 1 would continue doing open source. So, this is what I said to :name-retracted:, "This is not a model which we invented for KGP, this is a model which Larry Page and Sergey Brin created in 2004. Even they resorted to money, incentives, and glamour to get more students into open source. We are still young, to solve this problem."

One of my perspectives for MetaKGP is the same. It is trying to help students without giving any sustainable incentive, and hoping they would stick together. No, they won't. I still go back to the group because I know that some people in there share the same passion for Software as I do. Why are we not working on developing that passion? Why are we not passionate about creating things anymore? Small things, doesn't matter, but it should be solving the problem of at least one person. Let us do that! Let us empower more beginners to achieve this. Second years like :name-retracted: and "name-retracted: have such bright college life ahead, they do things which less than 1% of their batch would be able to comprehend. This is what we should be doing. And people like :name-retracted: and :name-retracted: are their inspirations when they do these things. The people who inspire them, just don't know how they are helping others without actually willing to.

I believe the "problem with MetaKGP" began when :name-retracted: misunderstood it. He started believing that promoting MetaKGP will solve all the problems because it represents the core concept of Freedom in software and a war against proprietary things (in this case, closed KGP societies and Hall culture). The concept of being open to everyone and hierarchy, all routed his passion towards promoting MetaKGP. It was hard to argue with him because he had forgotten what it feels to be the first year and knowing rat shit about these technologies and ideas. He had lost the concept of being a guide to juniors long time ago and he became a friend to everyone. Alas, that was never going to solve the issue. Willingly or unwillingly, everyone started spreading "word" about MetaKGP.

But if you read :name-retracted:'s :article-name-retracted: you will find the motive ":exact-words-retracted:" For me,

  • Collaboration comes when we work together to organize a big event, not one person contacting people to come and speak. Collaboration is when someone messages you "I will take care of this", but you insist on sharing the work because you know they would get exhausted by the amount of work involved and they just said it because they are junior to you.
  • Openness is when we freely respond to juniors and batchmates "Yaar room pe aa ja kabhi bhi; Chal milte hain; Yaha se padh le". Two days ago, I met 3 unknown juniors from RK. They wished to open a startup of memes. They didn't know what GET/POST requests are. I told them everything, how they can use MVC, databases, image editing with js, apps, security of servers. I left them with the suggestion, "Don't do this if you are aiming for users, do this because you want this product to be alive, do it just for the sake of creating it. Users will follow. And even if they don't, you'll never regret the fact of creating something." I spent 2 hours with them and comforted them to approach me anytime in future. I guess that would be openness. I did not add them to KOSS or MetaKGP because it will not help them as of now, and they would probably be a victim of inferiority complex, as a lot of my friends were when I added them to KLUG in my first year. I was different and developed the false belief that this was the correct way and hence it would work for everyone.
  • Self-improvement is when we read a trending article about git, python, (some particular ML algorithm) even if we know so much about it; because we thrive for that last 20-30% we don't know about it, that particular method or that command. And then we share stuff in places like ShowKGP.
  • Curiosity is asking :name-retracted: "how is work?", even when your inner self is telling you that you would not get a constructive answer.

In the :name-retracted:'s :article-name-retracted:, you can find an article about inclusivity - :exact-words-retracted:

Alright, this is a good model. But it will fail when the "we" includes the one "who got into the phase of passive lack of exclusion". Again, all I am resorting to is that promoting MetaKGP is a positive, attempt at solving a very difficult, abstract and huge problem in college. But no one ever questioned, should we really be doing that right now? For me, there are more existing problems in KGP which needs to be solved and they hold a higher priority. I have spent a lot of my time in KGP at solving those. You surely know all of it, and all of me in this regard.

Out of nowhere, this reminds me of the recent movie Newton. It is a great drama which shows us that there is a limit to the extent of solving a problem and strategizing is very important rather than following the pure true way. If you have watched it, you should remember the crazy scene when Rajkumar Rao holds the gun in his hand. If you haven't, I can quote a line from the movie "Sir, koi bhi change ek din mein nahi aata. Waqt lagta hai". I can totally relate to :name-retracted:'s MetaKGP with the lead in the movie, who tries to solve everything instantly by doing it the pure way. Although it solves the problem upto some extent but is completely useless and can be solved in steps, in easier and more sustainable way.

I have been writing this email for a long time now, and I think it can never be completed. I'll get some tea now and hope to hear from you.

PS. I was listening to Post Rock the whole time. ;)

:name-retracted: responded -

Thanks Himanshu.

At the first place, you don't need to be sorry for that. This incident has very little correlation to the cab discussion.

You have provided a more than verbose level of description, I would say -vv. And it resonates my own view.

:some comments on the previous email:

Oh this mail was such a great relief, few bad things happened these days and then you read a letter like this. I really liked the way you structured the letter, it seems like whatever is written are thoughts which came spontaneously to the mind but analysis which had always been there with ready references. Chuckle

I hope ki you are going good with the guitar!