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Yale Hackathon - RMMC Update

Saturday, May 14, 2016

(by G) The following are highlights from a report regarding the Yale hackathon in November 2015 where about 1,200 Surfing the Himalayas books were given to participants – funded by the Rama Marketing Materials Campaign (RMMC).

Yesterday ended the 36 hour Yale hackathon (YHack). YHack is “an international hackathon hosted by and held at Yale, bringing together like-minded hackers and creatives from all over the world. YHack is a festival of innovation, an arena of tech warriors, and a stage to present your big idea.”

About 1,200 hackers with their laptops and pillows inhabited the gymnasium at Yale University non-stop from Friday night through Sunday morning. What a terrific, fun and well-organized event. The giant hall was filled with continuous team hacking and punctuated by dancing, rap battles, and beach ball bopping as well as lots of food truck meals and various caffeine-rich beverages.

Two of us arrived on Friday afternoon to set up our table of Surfing the Himalayas books.

“Thanks for coming, we are really glad to have you here”, said the lead organizer.

The hackers registered, receiving a bag of cool swag goodies then flowed into the hacking gym. We had arranged for the Surfing the Himalayas books to be stuffed in each of 900 swag bags, and most hackers looked inside their bags, seeing the book, before coming into the gym to hack.

There were about 20 sponsor tables, lining the center of the enormous gym, with the remainder filled to the edges with rows and rows of hacker tables. There were top-level companies present - Facebook, Microsoft, Intuit, Intel, Priceline, JetBlue, etc. (see yhack.org for complete list) - giving assignments for prizes and recruiting hackers. The hackers flowed in through the sponsor tables for more cool swag, to talk about the APIs for the hack and jobs.

Our table was in the long, central sponsor aisle. Hackers came over to talk, ask questions about Rama’s book and about meditation in general. So many interesting conversations took place:

“Tell me, how is this Surfing book relevant?”

“How does meditation benefit computer science?”

“What is the connection?”

We talked about Big Data and refining the mind, relational versus hierarchical ways of seeing and relational databases, how a clear and still mind can access deeper parts of mind where problem-solving and creative thinking kick in - and on and on. What a blast!

One hacker said, “Awesome, I never would have thought about this. Can I take an extra book for a friend?” We also gave out handouts with Rama quotes from his computer science talks and Rama Meditation Society (RMS) web links to download Rama's talks.

Saturday morning we visited with sleepy, tenacious, caffeinated hackers - some in bathrobes, others hacking lying down on air mattresses. A neighboring sponsor, FINRA, told me his teammate read Rama’s whole book the night before. He was captivated by it, so I gave them more books to share with their office team. I pointed out to a few of the super-tired that meditation can refresh and energize the mind.

On Sunday morning, the hacking was still going on, though fewer remained. As the organizer called the competition closed, the last 100 hackers added a few lines of code and wrapped it up. Many walked out with their pillows in hand only to crash on the cushioned chairs or floors in the lobby. The dedicated organizers slept about 2 hours in 48.

We gave out an estimated 1058 Surfing the Himalayas books. There were 3 boxes (156 books) left, which we offered to the organizer from the Yale Computer Science Department. He was pleased to get them and assured us they would be disseminated to the students.

In all, it was a great success and we highly recommend sharing Rama's teachings at future hackathons around the country.