Google I/O: My Favorite Conference to Skip
Google I/O, which wrapped up May 20, was the first conference I’ve ever been happy to have skipped — and I mean that in a good way. Which is to say, Google did a grade-A job of making this lonely blogger feel as much a part of the conference from his desk chair as someone sitting in a conference room at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Here’s how.
The first part is obvious: Google broadcasted the keynotes live on YouTube in real time, so I was ooh-ing and aah-ing at the right times along with the rest of the crowd. But a lot of other events do the same thing, and it’s not what made I/O special.
No, my favorite part was the Google Waves they set up for each and every breakout session. Obviously, filming each and every breakout session would have been a logistical nightmare, but all of them had a pre-configured Wave to act as a kind of collaborative liveblog.
Not only were the main points of each session (usually) covered pretty well, but the comment threads gave me an idea of what people were asking, and the back chatter that accompanied each discussion.
Along those same lines, every session was pre-assigned a Twitter hashtag (like #chrome8 or #enterprise7), with the idea that it would be even easier to put your finger on the pulse of the conference at any given time. Unlike the Waves, this seemed to not really catch on with attendees, with most using the catch-all #io2010 tag for event updates and reactions.
All the same, it was a good idea, and perhaps if they publicized them more, the session-specific hashtags would have seen wider use.
So while I would have loved to catch up in person with Google and their very loyal developer base — and I would have especially loved to get my hands on the Android devices they were handing out — if I had to miss a conference this year, I’m glad it was Google I/O. Because the virtual conference components were impressive. And I wish that other major vendors would take the same social approach to their events.