As our world becomes more digitalized and interactions become a more permanent, our team noticed a rise in online anxiety stemming from an innate fear of being judged or making a mistake. In Elizabeth Armstrong's book Paying for the Party , Armstrong mentions the negative impacts of being unique at a school where it pays to not stand out. This exact sentiment can now be seen online, except now, everything can be traced back to an identity indefinitely. Our thoughts, questions, and personal lives are constantly be ridiculed and monitored for mistakes. Even after a decade of growth, we will still be tainted with the person we were years before. Contrary to this social fear, many of us started off a childhood with a confidence and naivety of social norms allowing us to simply make friends based on interests. Everyday was made for show-and-tell and asking questions. Through this platform, we seek to develop a web app that allows us to reminisce about the days when making friends was as easy as turning to stranger on the playground and asking to play.

What it does

Our web app is designed to make befriending strangers with shared interests easier and making mistakes less permanent. When opening the app, users will be given a pseudo name and will be able to choose their interests based on a word cloud. Afterwards, the user can then follow one of three paths. The first would be a friend matching path where the user will receive eight different people who share common interests with them. In these profiles, each person's face would be blurred and the only thing shared would be interests and age. The user can select up to two people to message per day. The second path allows for learning. Once a user selects a topic they'd like to learn more about, they will then be matched to someone who is volunteering to share information. The third consists of a random match in the system for anyone who is feeling spontaneous. This was inspired by Google's "I'm feeling lucky" button. Once messaging begins, the both people will have the ability to reveal their identity at any point, which would resolve the blurred image on their profile for the user they are unlocking it for.
The overall objective is to create a space for users to share without their identity being attached.

How we built it

Our team built this by taking time to learn UI design in Figma and then began to implement the frontend through html and css. We then attempted to build the back-end using python through Flask. We then hosted the web app on Azure as our server.

Challenges we ran into

Our team is made up of 100% beginners with extremely limited coding experience, so finding the starting point for web app development was the biggest challenge we ran into. In addition, we ran into a significant amount of software downloading issues which we worked with a mentor to resolve for several hours. Due to these issues, we never fully implement the program.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our team is extremely proud of the progress we have made thus far on the project. Coming in, most of us had very limited skills so being able to have learned Figma and launch a website in 36 hours feels incredible. Through this process, all of us were able to learn something new whether that be a software, language, or simply the process of website design and execution. As a group coming from four different schools from different parts of the world, we are also proud of the general enthusiasm, friendship, and team skills we built through this journey.

What we learned

Coming in as beginner programmers, our team learned a lot about the process of creating and designing a web app from start to finish. Through talking to mentors, we were able to learn more about the different softwares, frameworks, and languages many applications use as well as the flow of going from frontend to backend. In terms of technical skills, we picked up Figma and html and css through this project.

What's next for Playground

In the future, we hope to continue designing the frontend of Playground and then implementing the backend through python since we never got to the point of completion. As a web app, we hope to be able to later implement better matching algorithms and expanding into communities for different "playground."

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