I worked like a madman right through I/O 2010 and went straight from there to an internal meeting and from there to my Mom’s 80th-birthday bash, so there hasn’t been much time for reflection. I can’t find a theme to organize my notes by, so what you get is a dozen poorly-sequenced take-aways interspersed with seven faces.
The faces are here because I did a bunch of short interviews with strangers and got the idea of pointing my 40mm pancake prime at people straight-on and close-up, and found the results compelling enough to share. I don’t know all the names so I won’t mention any.
1 · Moscone West is an immensely nicer place to spend a couple of days than either North or South. Although it’s big, the size gives it a feeling that’s airy not brutal, and it’s full of natural light; a good space for a photographer.
2 · The I/O attendees are a wildly mixed bag; predominantly male (sigh), but miscellaneously old, young, and in between; academic, businesslike, and in between; government, private-sector, and military. When I figure out the underlying pattern, I’ll let you know.
3 · The best part for me was the Android office-hours. A gaggle of Androiders — more engineers than Developer Relations types — hung out in a corral on the third floor and anybody who wanted to talk just wandered up and did. The crush was terrific. The questions were all over the place; I could say something intelligent about half of them, more or less; had to go looking for a real expert for the rest.
4 · Quite a few of the developers who walked up haven’t learned about Practical Open Source; that you can answer an immense number of questions by just downloading the system source code and plowing through it.
5 · I got my first good look at the Palm webOS IDE, which runs entirely in a browser and I have to say is drop-dead cool to look at. I can’t offer a serious opinion about whether it actually, you know, works, without writing some code. But I had a nice talk with the Palm folks and wished them good luck going forward under the HP flag.
6 · My best wishes to the Palmistas were totally sincere. I don’t speak for Google but I can report that there are lots of people here genuinely hoping that webOS makes a go of it. And maybe one other out of the Nokia/Microsoft/RIM pack. Why might that be? Mike Loukides advances one theory in Google vs Apple: Google Doesn't Need To Win. But then he doesn’t speak for Google even more than I don’t.
7 · Want great network access in San Francisco? Here’s how: Get yourself a Nexus One of the “Passion-A” flavor, which runs 3G on AT&T frequencies. Then go to Google I/O, perhaps the only iPhone-free zone in downtown San Francisco. I was sitting in the big sessions with my phone running hot, downloading apps, keeping up on messaging, and watching the reactions. Gotta love that AT&T 3G. Wonder how it’ll hold up at WWDC?
8 · That Evo phone is pretty sweet. Attendees got ’em but Googlers didn’t. I was able to contain my grief because it wouldn’t be much good in Canada anyhow. And the great thing is, in a few months there’ll be something just as good or better available on a network near me.
On that subject, I’m sure that the iPhone they announce in June will be wonderful too.
Actually, the inability of any phone hardware builder to get a serious qualitative jump on the rest in terms of specs-and-features is remarkable; they’re all running like crazy to keep up. Which puts the focus on software.
9 · Here’s a fearless prediction: Next time we do this, there won’t be many references, however subtle, to Apple or any other vendor. There’ll be more important things to invest precious on-stage time in.
10 · Two days is a really nice length for a conference. You can pack the content in at ultra-high density without burning people out too badly; and almost nobody leaves early to go home. Whatever the future of Google’s conference offerings is, I’d like to hold that length.
11 · The big thing that we had at Java One that I missed at I/O was all the presentations from the community. Mind you, there was only one Android track, so you couldn’t really spread out too much in the present format; but still.
On the other hand, I thought the “Fireside Chat” event was crucial; put a bunch of key leading engineers up on stage and field questions from the room and the Web. The quality of the questions was up and down, but it’s important to have some sort of a direct bridge between the actual real human beings who build the technology and some of its primary users.
12 · During office hours, this dude walked up with a smart question, then remarked he was about to quit his day job because he was making more money than he’d ever seen before selling casual games in the Android Market. Nice guy; If he’s willing I’ll interview him somewhere.