“The InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia has evolved through many phases. We’ve invested in our ecosystem as deliberately as in our own team. This has allowed us to grow our networks and circles. We ultimately work with, hire people from, and send people to learn something from
those networks and circles,” wrote InSTEDD’s CEO Eduardo Jezierski in Labcraft, a new book about ‘how labs cultivate change through innovation and collaboration’.
Every year the iLab SEA encourages and sends its team to join both local and international technology events, including BarCamp Yangon. This year, our software developer Thyda Eng starts her very first international travel. In this interview, Thyda Eng talked about her visit to Myanmar and BarCamp Yangon 2015.
Question: How was Yangon?
Thyda: I was really really excited about this trip. Yangon is an old city. I noticed that some people still put on traditional dresses. Some people live in black, old buildings. The buildings were built block by block. Young people are excited about technologies. A lot of young people, especially university students, showed up at the BarCamp to learn. There is a good balance between men and women in the tech sector. I was told that women are very interested in computer science.
Q: Tell me about the tech community in Yangon?
Thyda: I’m amazed by the long line of participants on the opening day, January 31st. There weren’t as many sponsors as the ones you see at BarCamp Phnom Penh. A session about ‘data visualization’ was fascinating. The Phandeeyar (also known as Myanmar Innovation Lab) team demonstrated some open source technologies to create data visualizations. Unlike Phnom Penh, Myanmar’s mobile phone network services and internet access are widespread just yet.
Q: How did you like BarCamp Yangon 2015?
Thyda: In Yangon, it was a great chance for me to join its BarCamp and meet a diverse group of people. Local BarCampers were very enthusiastic. Most of the sessions were conducted in Burmese language. So it was a challenge for me to attend some of those sessions. However, some local BarCampers speak English. The event volunteers were very helpful. I like most of the presentations contributed by local and international BarCampers. It’s amazing to see people came together and shared knowledge and skills. It’s a big BarCamp, yet it was very well organized. The large board was full of topics. I was excited to see many tech-inclined people at this event.
Q: What were the 3 most interesting things you learned at the event?
Thyda: One of the topics that really impressed me was ‘Neuron Brain,’ presented by participants from Hong Kong. I think this technology will help people with disabilities. The second thing was that most speakers are confident presenting and discussing their topic. They gave some good talks, led and generated discussions among the audience. Professionally, being physically at the BarCamp helped me getting to know the ecosystem and software developers in Yangon and from the region.
Q: What did you share?
Thyda: I gave a talk about ‘Understanding Model–View–Controller (MVC) Design’ on the first day. It was good that most of the participants are university students, who are interested in this MVC concept. I was glad to have a full room of curious minds at my session. As my topic was not very long, I opened up a tech talk to have the participants share their thoughts. I really enjoyed and learned at a lot at this user-generated conference.
Q: What would be the most important tech trend in Myanmar to watch?
Thyda: Myanmar is still limited for people to get information through technologies since mobile Internet data is still very expensive. I think Myanmar’s vibrant tech community is doing some great things.