Much to my sorrow, I was not able to get a ticket to Google I/O this year, in spite of having gone to all but the first I/O. I was sad, but there's always next year!
So, with a heavy heart, I tuned in to the Google I/O, to see what I could find. I was surprised to find a very usable web experience that permitted me to see and hear some of what was happening.
The Google Developers Live feature was very well implemented. The basic idea is that an interviewer would talk briefly with a developer or manager about some of the new features that Google provides to users or developers. Most of these segments are in the five minute range, which is just right. I also like the fact that the interviews are conducted out on the floor, which gives you a chance get a flavor of the conference.
I have to say that it is a bit easier to move from one talk to another by clicking a link, rather than having to excuse yourself from whatever row you are in, walk out, find the physical location of the next talk you are looking for, walk to the next talk, and find a place to sit. Or find that it is SRO, or full and you can't get in.
One suggestion would be to realize that people in the eastern time zone (not to mention people in Europe) would like to watch events, or even see a live shot of the interior of the conference venue to see activity picking up, before the conference started for the day.
It's surprising to me that Google does not provide a development environment that would allow us to write programs for Android, Chrome or Google App Engine directly on the Chromebook. [Hmm. I'm now wondering whether or not the Chromebook could be used with the excellent App Inventor, which Google could learn a thing or three from, as far as total and absolute ease of development is concerned. The entire development environment is in the cloud! Amazing and completely usable. I'm going to give that a try...]
I'm also surprised that Google didn't take more of an opportunity to have clear, concise talks on its many commercial offerings during the "live" segments (which should have been broken into pieces, uploaded to Youtube, and then linked to in an attractive and easy-to-use way). Although it's doubtful that anyone can match the salesmanship of Steve Jobs, his keynote speeches appealed to everyone. I recall one occasion when my daughter came into my study late at night while I was watching the one at which the white plastic MacBook was introduced. She looked, kept watching, then pulled up a chair and watched the rest. I think that's one of the main reasons she decided on the MacBook...
Since this is a Technovelgy article, I would be remiss if I did not pull out some science-fictional technologies (that are now completely doable!) that would enhance the experience of people who could not get a ticket to Google IO.
In his 1977 novel The Dosadi Experiment, Frank Herbert extends his ideas about the courtarena, the Gowachin court, introduced in his 1964 story The Tactful Saboteur. In this version, persons who wished to remain anonymous, or who could not be present in person, could hear and watch the proceedings by means of transmitter eyes.
Knowing he was watched by countless eyes, McKie swept his gaze around the arena. Above the soft green absorbent oval where he stood were rank on rank of benches, every seat occupied. Muted morning light from the domed translucent ceiling illuminated rows of Humans, Gowachin, Palenki, Sobarips ... every species and faction of the ConSentiency would be represented here. Those who could not come in person would watch these proceedings via the glittering transmitter eyes which looked down from the ceiling's edges.
(Read more about Herbert's transmitter eyes)
Of course, it would be even better to roam around the different parts of the sandbox and talk with people. This could be accomplished with the little robot probes from Niven and Pournelle's 1981 novel Oath of Fealty. This technology is actually becoming widely available; telepresence robots are a pretty good solution.
Also, it is a good idea to emphasize products like Google music (which is terrific, by the way) and giving away a month of free service. This lets watching developers share in the IO bounty, and also encourages consumers to take an interest in the keynote.
The main thrust of my comments is that there are improvements that could be made that would effectively make not attending the conference an attractive experience. Although, of course, there is apparently no way to avoid missing out on a Chromebook Pixel, an awesome high-resolution touchscreen laptop...
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/26/2013)