I enjoyed it more than any other so far. More APIs, less hardware. More sessions, each shorter. One keynote.
Scale · IO has been at Moscone West, its attendance thus capped at five-thousand-and-change people, for a while now. I predict it stays that way. Yeah, it sells out instantly and we could probably draw five times that number. All this is true of Apple’s WWDC too; In Unknowable, Rands says smart things about the advantages of smaller size.
But there’s another factor; it’s really hard to grow much over 5-6K because then you don’t fit in Moscone West, which is a reasonably light, airy, pleasant space; see above. The only alternative that I know of is Moscone North/South, which is sort of a grungy basement shithole, and an insanely bigger investment of cash and work for whoever’s putting the show on.
If someone came along and built a nice venue that could handle say, 10K, without turning attendees into troglodytes, I bet we and Apple would both give it a serious look. For now though, I’d be surprised if things change much.
What Larry Said · The keynote surprise was a walk-on from Larry Page, which by the way takes a certain amount of courage for a guy with voice problems. His speech drew some eye-rolling, but I can testify that it wasn’t put on for the occasion; that’s just what he sounds like when he’s speaking internally to Googlers.
I think John Gruber’s pushback mostly misses the mark. First off, Larry is obviously right that the Net biz isn’t zero-sum. Look, for example, at iOS and Android clawing each other ferociously for market share; who’s winning depends on what measures you use, but the key thing is that no matter how you measure, both sides are growing and growing fast. And I’ll totally unsurprised if one of Microsoft or BlackBerry or Mozilla or someone nobody’s watching yet gets a spot on that mobile-software growth curve.
Also, more or less all growth is by accretion. There were tablets from Microsoft five years before the iPad; MapQuest was on the Web a decade before Google Maps got interesting; the list of examples is endless.
Great things that didn’t previously exist don’t burst like Athena from some deity’s forehead, but grow by relentless layering-on of improvements and additions; eventually this produces something so much better and different that it’s in effect qualitatively new.
What I Said · My speech, an overview of Identity tech, was pretty rough. Literally 10 minutes before showtime, my Keynote preso corrupted itself and wouldn’t play. I managed to export it as PDF so the audience could see it, minus the nifty animations and transitions, but I couldn’t see my speaker notes. Fortunately I remembered most of the 50 minutes’ worth of material, but there’s a whole lot of hemming and hawing and I am totally unrelaxed.
The talk is up on YouTube, but I don’t recommend it for anyone who reads this space, because I’ll eventually work through all the material here in a probably-more-coherent form.
The Girl/Boy Thing · IO, like every other tech gathering, suffers from horrible gender imbalance. I don’t know what to do about it but I don’t think it’s appropriate to ignore, and I’ll keep highlighting it as long as I keep seeing it.
By the way, I had sort of thought there was not much new to be said about high-tech gender tension, but I was wrong; I recommend The Hawkeye Initiative IRL! by “K2” and Open Source Is Not A Warzone. Not Every Man Is A Dick by a girl-Perl-geek collective. I don’t 100% agree with everything they say, but any new contribution to this conversation is obviously A Good Thing.
My Tribe · That gender problem aside, IO left me proud to be a Net nerd. The people at IO are eclectic, open-hearted, loud-voiced; they are Burning-Man hippies, calculating entrepreneurs, concurrency obsessives, amateur opera singers; they come from everywhere, in all colors. (Those that are American include more or less no Republicans, because one thing that’s not cool among us is the celebration of ignorance.) I love them. There’s nothing I’d rather do.