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May 28, 2008 / Ben Chun

Google I/O = Brain Full

Ouch. I’m not used to being on the student side of education anymore… it’s a hard job! The Google I/O conference was packed today, both with people and ideas. I can honestly say I haven’t been to a computer-related event this exciting and interesting since undergrad. There’s just so much going on: App Engine, Android, OpenSocial, APIs, Maps, AJAX (GWT)… it’s pretty amazing what Google has become and what they’ve accomplished. But the conference still felt really friendly: all the food is free, the Wi-Fi is open, and people aren’t dodging questions.

I got a great crash-introduction to Python today from Alex Martelli, learned a little more about how the GData APIs work, then went and heard about how Google implements internally and where they’re going. (I remember hearing about GFS and MapReduce before, but not BigTable.) It was hard not to feel like part of a movement or a revolution of some sort listening to Vic Gundotra give the keynote this morning and talk about everything that Google’s doing, putting it in a historical context and being very upfront that an open, collaborative, standards-based web is very much in Google’s economic interest. It’s a compelling vision of the future that’s very different from the one that the other superpower is pushing. Between being here and being at Maker Faire earlier this month, I’m inspired by the ability of individuals and small groups to really take some of the greatest human achievements in technology and apply them to very specific, personal, small-scale projects.

After my experiences at the Python session today and with teaching NodeBox (which uses Python) to students this month, I am warming up to the language. Hearing Martelli compare the economy of the language (no extraneous punctuation) to Tufte’s visual design principles was an arrow shot right for my heart. He covered a lot of information in a short time, and it was great.

By 4pm I could feel myself reaching overload. I’m just not in the habit of drinking from firehoses anymore. So even though there was one more session available, I had to call it a day. I’m going back tomorrow to learn how to deploy an application using the new Google App Engine, and whatever else I can fit in.

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