Google Developer Day 2007 UK - Morning Sessions

OK, so I know I said I'd post at the weekend, and instead it's been a week, but I'm sure I'll catch up eventually... In this post I'll cover the morning - basically the keynote and lunch, and yes, before you ask, in my opinion anything up until the end of lunch is 'morning' :) As usual this is (or should be) marked up in hReview format, no fancy include patterns this time though.

Review: General Session and Local Keynote at GDD07UK, The Brewery in London, 52 Chiswell Street, London 12:00 to 13:00

Chris Dibona started us off with a potted history of Google's 'API' activities, up to and including Google Maps, and how that linked in with this, their first large scale developer event. Then he went on to talk about the culture of openness (and open source) at Google using as an example the sitemaps protocol. He explained how they wanted the protocol to be open, and they wanted to encourage other search engines to use it, so that's why they took the unusual step of releasing the specification under a Creative Commons license. This led to what I thought was the key slide of Chris's part of the talk, entitled "But, why?":
  • What's good for web developers is good for Google
  • Open Source and CC are good for web development
  • We use Third Party, trustable, licenses that are above reproach so that developers know that they can trust that which we are providing
  • And it allows Google to iterate APIs faster
  • And open source makes standards possible

Apart from the rather hackneyed attempt to get 'trust' into the middle point twice, this was a very interesting position. Google is good at the web, so anything which makes the web more useful, and by implication increases web usage, is good for Google. Although this attitude does have a bit of underlying arrogance, it's hard to see many other companies making a similar claim (eg. swap 'Google' for 'Microsoft' and 'web' for 'desktop platform', or perhaps even 'IBM' and 'IT Consultancy'). Chris then went on to explain how all this applied to Google Gears (or, as we were told it was originally called, 'Scour' - as in "scouring the web with ajax" - yes, think cleaning products :roll: ) - there was no intention for Google to implement for every browser on every platform but, because it was all open source, they fully expect people to implement it themselves if their own favourite browser isn't supported.

Next we heard from Ed Parsons, a self described 'manic geographer'. He talked about how deeply embedded geographical information was in the world's data and how Google Maps API would help us developers exploit that. He made the claim that 80% of the world's information is either explicitly or implicitly geographical, though the evidence for this was somewhat apocryphal. He also showed the 'long tail' of potential geographical information and talked about how Google saw their role as providing tools to allow people to fill in that long tail with useful (crawlable and indexable) geographic information. He then gave us a potted tour of these tools - Google Earth and Maps, Mapplets, StreetView and Sketchup plus KML. This was followed by a question and answer session, not all of which were strictly development questions - licenses and privacy featured strongly, but Chris and Ed dealt well will all of them and were quite happy for anyone with concerns to contact them directly after the event.

Not a lot of technical content in this session, but enough to keep me interested all the same - 4 out of 5.

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Review: Lunch at GDD07UK, The Brewery in London, 52 Chiswell Street, London 13:00 to 13:45

OK, so it's cheating a bit to do a review of the free lunch, but this was probably the best free lunch I've ever had at one of these developer event things. Lots of sandwiches, each plate had a different selection (which I didn't realise initially), plus baguette style things and other fancy bread stuff. Each table also had a selection of fruit including, for some reason, pineapples even though there was no cutlery. There was a 'smoothie bar' with various fruit based drinks, fruit juice, tea and coffee, and various yoghurt and nut based desert things as well as actual cake type deserts. Even if you have no intention of using any of Google's technology in your development, it's probably worth singing up for the next event just to get fed - 5 out of 5.
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With all that out of the way, this weekend I'll get round to doing reviews of the talks which had some actual technical content.