We want to provide everyone with a way to connect with others. We believe that we have a lot to learn from each other. Our vision is to provide a social networking site where people can connect with others for anything from professional industry advice to tips for pursuing a hobby. We hope to foster a community where such interactions are candid, open and informal.
Although we ultimately chose to create our own problem statement, our solution has been partly inspired by problem statement number 11: Create STEM Opportunities for Women. As a team of two women, we are acutely aware of the disadvantages women still face today. An article published by the World Economic Forum in 2019, states that it will take another 108 years to close the gender gap . Additionally, more pertinent to the STEM field, only 22% of AI professionals are women . The article goes on to state that this could be due to a lack of confidence. It is saddening to read these statistics and even more so because it is a reflection of our own lives. Growing up, we sometimes heard remarks along the lines of: “Girls don’t need to study so hard, just find a husband” and “Don’t do a PhD, it will be harder for you to find a husband”. While these remarks are more overt, they give a good example of the social stigmas and biases that often limit women, diminish our confidence and perpetuate challenges that women face in their perceptions of inclusion and participation in STEM settings [4,5,6].
To break this bias, we envision Candoor to be a useful tool. We hope that by facilitating candid conversations and building an inclusive community, we will be able to tear down the walls of uncertainty and give more women the confidence to pursue their dreams. By making this an open community, we are also not just limiting the benefits to women, but to all underrepresented groups.
Social media platforms today, like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, allow us to connect with anyone over the internet. However, based on our own experience, we still find it hard to make meaningful connections with people online through these apps. Who do we reach out to? Is it weird to hit someone up and make a connection request? A simple google search of “Should I accept a stranger’s connection request on LinkedIn?” yields thousands of results, with articles supporting both sides of the argument, and more often than not, taking the middle ground.
Yet, when we really sit down to think about it, what are we really trying to achieve? It is to build a meaningful connection. This is why we came up with Candoor. Every one of us has something valuable to share, be it on a certain topic or skill, an experience or even our perspectives. Every one of us also has something that we want to learn, that we are curious about. Be it a potential new career path, a niche subject or even a new hobby. With Candoor, we hope to facilitate these connections so that people can build meaningful connections with each other. By learning from each other, we can better understand different perspectives, break down barriers, support each other and build a better world together.
What it does
Candoor provides a matching service that matches people based on a certain topic or skill. The idea is that everyone has something to share: an expertise. Everyone also has something that they want to learn: an aspiration. Candoor provides a list of suggested people to match with, to chat about the specific topic or skill you are interested in.
For example, Naomi is skilled at Python and uses it in her daily job and is keen to share more about it. She enters this information into Candoor, where the matching algorithm, powered by TigerGraph, matches her with Priya who is looking for a new career and thinks that Python is a great skill to pick up. They get to talking and Naomi shares with Priya how she learned Python and gives insightful tips that help Priya on her learning journey.
On the other hand, Naomi also aspires to be an artist on the side, and would like to learn more about what it would take to eventually sell her artwork online. She enters this information into Candoor, where she is now matched with Alex, an established freelance artist. He guides her on how to grow an online audience.
These conversations are insightful and fulfilling, Naomi got to both share her knowledge and learn something new! Hopefully, some new friendships were also fostered.
How we built it
At the start, we watched the TigerGraph 101 tutorial videos to learn about TigerGraph and what it did. After brainstorming a few different project ideas, we finally decided on Candoor as our project and started with the classic “pen-and-paper approach” to wireframe the app concept. Following the example schema in the TigerGraph 101 tutorials, we drew out the graph schema for Candoor. During the development process, we split the work into user interface and backend, so Audrey worked with TigerGraph at the backend while Steph developed the user interface with Flask and BootStrap. We made use of GitHub to share our code and developed and refined the idea/features as we progressed along with our coding. Finally, in the end, we came together to integrate the frontend and backend together and fixed any bugs.
Challenges we ran into
The first challenge we ran into was deciding on what to build for our project. After learning about graph databases through the tutorial videos, we saw the potential and benefits of using graph databases. We really wanted to come up with a project that managed to leverage the power of graph databases. After much brainstorming and back and forths, we finally decided on Candoor as we believe that graph databases are well-suited in addressing this problem. While we learned of Graph for All Million Dollar Challenge in February, we took a long time to decide on what project to do, and only left ourselves with 5 weeks of time to code Candoor.
When designing the schema, we had questions about how to structure our schema, due to the flexible nature of graph databases. By studying the example schemas in the TigerGraph tutorial videos, and also by leveraging TigerGraph’s office hours, we came up with a schema that we liked. It also took a while for us to get used to writing GSQLqueries, as we had never used TigerGraph and Graph databases.
A major challenge we faced was implementing all of our proposed features in the hackathon’s time frame. Although our main focus was to build out the matching algorithm as our MVP, we realised that many other features such as adding friends, messaging, and blocking people were also an important aspect of Candoor as we wanted to put out a fully functional MVP. When put all together, this was a lot of work to do in a very limited time!
One issue that we ran into was that while we wanted to implement the login functionality using TigerGraph, but as we were unable to figure out how to do so, we made an intermediary SQLite database to implement user-session handling instead.
While we also ran into some other challenges, most of these were able to be resolved during the TigerGraph office hours and we are thankful for the amazing help from the Tiger Team, Dan B, Jon Herke and Zrouga-Mohamed.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We’re happy to have finished developing a complete minimum viable product within the hackathon timeframe. The interface is clean, and the matching algorithm matches based on similarities. We are proud to make an inclusive social networking app that prioritises user experience and encourages human connection and empathy.
What we learned
Prior to this competition, we had no experience in graph databases. Audrey, especially, learnt a lot about gsql and TigerGraph as she was tasked with setting up the database.
Applied in the context of our app, we see the major benefits that graph databases bring. Graph databases are a perfect solution in determining good networks to build and provide the best match possible. We are excited about the potential and possibilities that graph databases bring and hope to explore more in the future.
We are also glad to be given a chance to practice our web development skills using Python and Flask.
What's next for Candoor
We're excited about Candoor's future! If we have the chance to launch Candoor, we strive to provide a safe, open and inclusive environment. We plan to fine-tune the matching algorithm by exploring the use of machine learning to further enhance our matches. Additionally, we will provide more avenues for people to reach out to us if they feel harassed or threatened.
We will also be iterating on our user interface to ensure that it is intuitive and easy-to-use. We will be looking into responsiveness so that the site also works well on mobile.
In the future, once we have collected enough data from free-form text inputs of skills users are interested in, we hope to build out a skills graph. We envision that this skills graph will categorise skills based multiple levels of classification. For example "Watercolour" and "Sketching" may both be grouped under the parent category of "Visual Art" which can be grouped under a larger category of "Art". Using graph databases, a skills graph could provide further insights into what skills are closely linked, so that we may provide users with such suggestions too. We are excited by the possibilities!
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