I. Yosun Chang is a creative hacker – a software developer and entrepreneur who specializes in 3D augmented reality, virtual reality, and rapidly prototyping “cool hacks” involving emerging technologies.
A first generation Chinese-Taiwanese American, she is the daughter of a Kuomintang-mother and Minjintang-father, and the granddaughter of a male-chauvinistic-primogeniture-orphaned daughter and a Communist Cultural Revolution exile – who started anew in Taipei, after being forced to leave his wife, daughter, and family in Ningbo.
She grew up in the outskirts of a school district that would eventually become gentrified in “a classic bay area onslaught of families of Chinese or Caucasian descent.” Her childhood friends were self-declared “Latino gangsters” until middle school, when their families could no longer afford to stay in the area, or when housing prices quadrupled. In high school, she was the tall, skinny poor girl who was never really a part of that community – while her peers went home to private tutors and afterschool exam-prep programs, she went home to hack and work on personal projects, while droning out the problems of penurious parents.
To escape the madness, she took math, physics and computer science courses at the local college. To make up for what she didn’t know to be an incessant inferiority-complex of being able to compete without the resources of expensive afterschool programs, she also took all the AP courses offered by her school, as well as a half dozen that were not available.
She went to college on full ride, starting out as a grad student – and after switching from a Bioengineering major, was determined-enough to finish a doctorate in Physics by 21. However, instead, she left to try a stint at living Thoreau’s Walden, to get at the marrow of life, but paradoxically, by writing an urban fantasy trilogy – she ended up founding and running a Shakespearean theatre inside a virtual world – under the unlikely nom de guerre of Ina Centaur.
And now? She’s a physics grad school dropout, former virtual world addict and hackathon junkie, determined life-long freelancer and “girl who travels.” In Silicon Valley-terminology, she calls herself “the solo technical founder of an ever-pivoting startup.”