Cutting to the chase: we've been inspired by many of the initiatives forming during the COVID-19 pandemic, so here's a list of resources and 2020 updates. This list is in no way comprehensive and is meant to be informative while not being overwhelming. As such, we welcome suggestions: feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a resource you would like included on this list or have concerns about the accuracy or legitimacy of any of the resources we've already listed.
COVID-19: Learning, Researching, and Contributing
If you are able to learn and help, here are some resources that provide information about the novel coronavirus as well as some links to ways you can contribute to fighting the pandemic.
Mental Health and Coping With Quarantine
While some of us are fortunate enough to have stable home environments in which we can give resources and carry on with our daily activities remotely, this is certainly not the case for everyone. Quarantine has exacerbated the problem of domestic abuse, and in general, this shift in lifestyle can be detrimental to mental health. To be clear: it's okay not to be okay. These are not normal times, and even though the people you interact with on social media may seem to be accomplishing things, "working on themselves," or "hustling," it is not at all necessary to operate as if life were normal. If you come out of this pandemic good health, you are doing great. It is completely acceptable to feel a range of emotions for a range of reasons--from graduations and other events being cancelled to job offers being rescinded to anything at all--don't feel obligated to stay positive or work 110%. It is also completely acceptable to reach out for help and to take advantage of self-help resources--it is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. With that said, here are some mental health resources:
Educational Opportunities: Summer Programs, Workshops, Courses, etc.
We reiterate that it is not at all necessary to "achieve" in any normal sense of the word this summer--whether you've had your internship or program cancelled, been struggling with a difficult home situation, or had family/friends directly affected by the pandemic, it's okay to take this time to focus on your situation and just do the bare minimum you need to do to survive. If and only if you have the time, bandwidth, and mental health to continue learning or working, here are some resources to help:
Education and Action: Combatting Racism
While this isn't directly related to COVID-19 or to computational linguistics, we at LingHacks nonetheless think it's important to spread awareness about the systemic issue of racism in America. This is certainly in light of the recent murder incidents that have occurred in May 2020, but we acknowledge that it's also not a new issue--racism is older than America. We initially hesitated about getting "political" on our official page, but (1) racism is not a partisan issue, and (2) being able to ignore politics is a privilege that many people do not have. That said, LingHacks was by no stretch of the imagination founded as a human rights advocacy group, so we'll save the standard (though true) spiel about how racial equality is important in tech and computational linguistics--because racial equality is important for everyone and everything, not just for a specific person or organization's individual benefit. The authors of this post are also not black, so we recognize our privilege and recognize that it's not our place to further preach about this. However, complete silence is complicity, so here are some resources to educate yourself about systemic racism and to make a difference through donating to advocacy organizations and pressuring public officials. Every signature, message, call, and dollar makes a difference, so please do everything that you are able. As a disclaimer, this list is by no means exhaustive or prescriptive (and please feel free to email us if we've included a suspicious resource or if you want a resource added to this list), but these are just some of the resources out there.
At this time, LingHacks III has been postponed to the spring of 2021. It will be in-person if safe, but we will plan for a virtual alternative in the not-unlikely event that large gatherings are still dangerous at that time. Between now and then, we are planning to host some free online workshops and publish some programming, machine learning, and computational linguistics-related tutorials and resource collections on this blog. We've also launched a mailing list, where we'll be sharing resources and updates throughout the coming months: subscribe here. Stay tuned for more updates, and in the mean time, stay home if you can, wash your hands often, and wear masks if you must leave home for essential tasks.
One last note for this post: we wanted to just say thank you. Thank you to all of the essential workers fighting on the front lines to make sure the rest of us stay alive, fed, and healthy. Thank you to everyone who is observing social distancing protocols and saving lives by staying home. Thank you to the educators and parents who are providing academic continuity for students during the crisis. Thank you to everyone who has made nonprofit initiatives like LingHacks possible. Thank you.