Over the next few months, we’ll get to know Reboot’s core leadership team, covering what brought them to and continues to excite them about our work. Feel free to reach out to Jessica directly to learn more about Reboot or any of the topics mentioned.
Jessica Dai (she/her) is a PhD student in computer science at UC Berkeley. She is also a cofounder of Reboot, newsletter editor (June 2021-Aug 2022), and managing editor for Kernel Issue 2. She loves the Pacific Northwest, live performance, and high quality produce. Check out her website or Twitter.
What do you work on with Reboot?
I cofounded Reboot (before we even knew Reboot was going to be a thing); curated and edited the newsletter for about a year; and was managing editor for Kernel Issue 2. In the past 2.5 (!!?) years, I’ve done things like: reading a book and writing a review every other week (my high energy undergrad era); hosting Zoom events; doing book clubs; making extremely horrible graphics in Canva.
These days I am mostly
hanging out doing logistical/organizational things like figuring out how to pay sales tax to the state of California, evangelizing Kernel/Reboot, and lurking in Discord.
How did you get involved in Reboot? Where was your life at?
Reboot started during the tail end of my year working on Brown’s Socially Responsible Computing program, and in retrospect, I think my experience with SRC really shaped how I thought about Reboot — as something complementary to a (technical) curriculum-based approach. Reboot also actually predated almost my entire research arc, which is sort of wild to think about!
What’s been your favorite thing about being part of this community?
Is there a way to answer this without being extremely corny? Everyone I’ve met through Reboot has just been so genuinely excited. Earnestness is good, actually, caring about things is good, actually, and investing time and energy into the things you care about is good, actually.
It really is inspiring and heartwarming to know people who show up every week to book club having done the reading, who will do the unfun, invisible, but indispensable logistical work to make events happen, who — even if they aren’t actively working on Reboot projects — contribute to the community overall just by hanging out.
What’s something you want to see Reboot do?
I think it would be sick if we built more stuff. (Rich for me to say, as the person who ran from building stuff to academia, and also ran away from building stuff within academia too.)
Share something you’ve written/created/built/made recently!
This came out in Sine Theta Magazine recently. Think of it as a text-only polaroid.
I also wrote a much longer piece on growing up with Chinese dance! It’ll be out in SINOSTORIES soon.
What book/film/etc are you always recommending to people?
I loved A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki; Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom is a classic; I never stop thinking about the stories in The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans and Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen.
Tell us about something you’re trying to learn right now.
Math, emphasis on trying (but don’t mansplain the dot product to me)
Microdoses (aka links i liked recently. sorry these are all serious, twitter is bad rn)
zaddies and they kids from Brandon Taylor's substack. “It really does seem harder to write earnestly and directly about characters who have emotions and motivations. Harder to write a novel that is powered by the pitch and frequency of feeling and self-knowledge than it is to write a novel that is powered by, I don’t know, dull descriptions of contemporary alienation rendered in icily lyrical sentences.”
Behold the Fruit Sandwich by Ligaya Mishan in NYT. “I want to bite into an apple and think of mountain air so clean and sharp that it could cut you. I dream of a strawberry like a small heart, heavy and full, its unabashed red a testament to vigilance and a perfectly timed pluck off the vine. I long for sun-glutted peaches and oranges that have true weight in the hand and blueberries the color of deep ocean where the light is swallowed up.”
Blunt-Force Ethnic Credibility by Som-Mai Nguyen in Astra. One of the best essays I've read in a long time... dare I say all year?
A profile of 2022 Fields medalist June Huh by Jordana Cepelewicz in Quanta. So many quotable bits; I just love reading about people who love their work; about why their work is beautiful.
To learn more about Reboot, academia, creative nonfiction, or anything else in this Q&A, you can reach out to Jessica via email@example.com or Twitter.
yes this did happen recently
disclaimer i’ve gotten really bad at dms and emails, if i don’t reply quickly it’s not you it’s me
jess dai slay
nothing but respect for jessica dai