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08 July 2014 Maria Tzeka

Google I/O: A playground for knowledge hunters

When I set sail for my voyage to what I like to call “a playground for people hungry for knowledge,” I had no idea how overwhelming and awesome a conference could be. Google I/O, for those not in the know, is Google’s annual software developer-focused conference.

Google I/O is the very definition of a “hands-on” conference. Beyond attending the technical sessions, we were all encouraged to hang out and play with devices in the main area on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Whether you were trying out some code at the Code Labs or listening to a mini lecture outside of the sessions, the learning possibilities seemed to be never-ending.

I found the Code Labs to be of particular interest. Google provided a dedicated workspace with desktop computers that allowed you to sign in using your Google I/O badge (just hover over the scanner and boom, you're in). These self-paced labs featured tutorials that made Google frameworks easy to follow and were a great way to kill some time between sessions.

As a front-end developer, I was especially excited to attend the Polymer project - a relatively new framework for using custom elements from Google. I love how Polymer strips out most of the Javascript and makes the HTML much more legible. I also liked how they had a small booth setup for Chrome, offering insightful suggestions on how to improve performance and which tools to use.

There were a few sessions that stood out for me. Specifically, I enjoyed the HTML5 YouTube talk where I learned how they analyze their data and work with it. It was crazy to hear that YouTube developers don't have access to specific user sessions. If they run into a bug, they have to figure out a way to fix it without knowing the details of the session.

But oh, the toys! I realize I shouldn’t have been surprised by the number of proud Google Glass owners in attendance, but the density was notably higher than what an average human is used to seeing. Call it a glimpse into our hyperconnected and wearable future.

CTO Ben Blair and Developer Maria Tzeka folding the cardboard VR headset.
Photo from Google I/O 2014

Google Glass wasn’t the only wearable on display. When we walked out of the keynote presentation, everyone rushed to assemble their cardboard VR headset and my first instinct was "I want one too!" The icing on the cake of all giveaways was that every attendee received their choice of a pre-released Samsung or LG Android Wear watch to play with. I ended up going for the Samsung.

The talk on robotics presented by Women Techmakers was a great way to end the conference. It was inspiring to see a group of women talk about their intensive individual projects that have made a huge impact. It was also great for Google to come out and say that they want to build the best work environment for women - a hot topic in engineering lately.

My sincerest thanks go to the fine people at 1871 and Google for Entrepreneurs for selecting and sending me to my first very memorable Google I/O. I have one last takeaway from the event. Learning is never-ending, embrace the nerd in you!

Filed Under: Tech Community