The Power of Code During Quarantine

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I’m normally a pretty reflective, pensive person. This manifests itself during my typical day-to-day as the long, winding internal conversation and subway-line-daydreams that help me navigate what I see as the absurdities of everyday life.

With COVID-19 having upended the everyday lives of those around the world, life, as it was, doesn’t exist anymore. As a result, my sense of the absurd has skyrocketed to heights I could have never imagined. While it can be helpful in dealing with the cultural and political realities of how we’ve gotten here, it can be harrowing at times for my own mental health, too— and I know I’m not alone there.

My background in writing helps, allowing me to take a step back — just like I’m doing now in writing this — to get some perspective. And while there’s a part of me that would’ve loved to begin Flatiron School two years ago so that I could be more capable of doing something more now, the fact remains that I’m learning the power of programming right now. That’s empowering.

In the meantime, programming communities around the globe are coming together to aid the fight to #flattenthecurve. And so, while I spend my time wrangling the growing complexities of Javascript and Ruby on Rails (or, in other words, the baby stuff), it’s heartening to know I’ll have the knowledge to participate in events like the Pandemic Response Hackathon, a weeklong virtual hackathon aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Check out some of the more notable entries below, all of which were created in part or completely with programming languages and back-end frameworks featured in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering curriculum:

EtherMed’s COVID solution creates an instant backtrace after a known infection and identifies all current and past physical locations of the infected with a list of those they’ve been in contact with. Administrators then, for the first time, have the ability to know, notify, and manage those needing isolation.”

In the absence of a meaningful federal response from the government of the United States, giving health care professionals the opportunity to backtrace patients is an important, powerful tool. This solution was partially built with Javascript and React.

A web application partially built with HTML and Javascript, Isolating Together harnesses the power of small, positive action to create a healthier approach to everyday life.

“The heart of the website is a list of small actions and habits that make us healthier, happier, and more connected. The list is organized around four categories: healthy eating and exercise, relaxing activities like meditation, creative outlets and new hobbies, and ideas for reaching out to help others,” describes creator Alissa Bell.

“Here’s how it works: If you see something you’ve done recently, click the button to be counted. The main counter goes up in real-time, so everyone looking at the page will see it increase. When multiple people are on the page at once, this is really compelling. People can submit their own ideas, and I’ve been adding a few new ones each day from user suggestions. In the future, I could see adding personalized tracking around progress and consistency to encourage repeat use, kind of like a personal checklist or goal tracking app.”

In the same lane as Isolating Together, MyBubble is an application partially built with Javascript that leverages Bluetooth technology to gamify our quarantining efforts by making “social distancing fun by earning rewards for keeping social distance, encouraging others, and staying positive!” A notable feature centers around points that can be earned through the app and edeemed at local businesses for discounts to engage the economy.

With COVID-19 straining healthcare systems around the world, it’s apparent that volunteers are of utmost importance while cities around the world attempt to #flattenthecurve. While this project is still very much in its infancy, the team behind Pandemic Volunteers has planted the seeds for something that can complement efforts being made right now by international volunteer organizations. Notable is its Ruby frontend and Rails backend.

With hope, my exploration of some cool, very important ideas inspires others more capable than I to put their skills — whatever they may be — to use! As for me, a few more goals to aim for will only serve to make me a stronger programmer, writer, and thinker!

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