Recently, I had the great honor of being asked by Google to present at Google I/O 2009. Here is the story of my journey including: how to get noticed by Google, getting invited to present at Google I/O, practicing the presentation with my Google contact, the hours leading up to the presentation, the presentation itself, and the after party! I have included some behind the scenes photos and videos as well.
How did I get noticed by Google?
Recently, I saw a beer commercial that said “Rule #1 of how to get the girl: be good looking!”. So here is my rule of how to get noticed by Google “Rule #1 of how to get noticed by Google: use the Google APIs in some kick-ass way!”. Google is building a developer platform and they want to show off developers utilizing said platform. So if you do something cool with the Google APIs, it is easier to get noticed than you may think.
How did I get asked to present at Google I/O?
My main “in” at Google was that anytime that I did something rather cool with the Google APIs, I pinged the Google Employee Developer I met in the Google Developer Newsgroups. I did not expect anything in return from him. I thought “hey I just implemented something really cool and they might be interested”. It turns out that they were indeed interested and extremely friendly. Every time that I implemented something substantially new and cool, we would have an open dialog about what would make my application better and they would say things such as “hey did you know we have the Client Location API, this would be really cool for your site…”. It turns out that I must have pinged my Google contact at the exact right time (with information about major updates to my site). I had just completed some advanced Google Maps coding and once they saw it, they officially invited me to Google IO to be in the Developer Sandbox and to present a session.
Preparing my presentation
So now there I was, Google asked me (OMG!) to come out and speak and they wanted me to send out a rough concept of what I might want to present. Initially I proposed a session called “Building a cool app on an hour a day, a rebel’s view of the world”. That presentation would have been all about the mindset that I had and steps I took to successfully building www.VastRank.com in my spare time. Google liked that presentation, but they wanted it to be more focused on the APIs since that is what a lot of visitors to Google I/O would be looking for.
So I changed my presentation to “Using AJAX APIs to Navigate User-Generated Content”. The presentation was about how do you take all of this information that users have submitted and sort and present it to other users in an interesting and useful way. The title of the session was play on a Don Box title “Navigating the Programmable Web”.
Rehearsing with the Google AJAX API Team
Once I had my presentation prepared, I rehearsed it over two video conferences with Adam Feldman, the Google AJAX APIs Product Manager. Adam was extremely smart, and had a way to hear what I was saying and then summarize some things into a much more compelling concise point.
I arrived to the conference a day early, where I was able to do my presentation in the actual conference room to a group of Googlers. I am so glad that I had that opportunity, because I rushed through my first live run and was 15 minutes short of the target time. I needed to slow down the next day!
The Session: Using AJAX APIs to Navigate User-Generated Content
Here is a link to the full to the official Google I/O Session page which has the video and slides.
- 00:24 – Who am I?
- 01:26 – Introduction to VastRank.com
- 02:56 – Overview of the Google AJAX APIs Used
- 07:15 – Using Google Maps on the College Profile
- 11:41 – VastRank.com Client Architecture
- 12:39 – Setting the Map Center
- 14:07 – Loading Map Markers via AJAX
- 15:07 – Algorithm for What is in View on a Map
- 28:25 – Map InfoWindows
- 30:38 – Geocoding via AJAX and HTTP
- 34:45 – Personalization & Suggestion Engine (ClientLocation)
- 39:28 – Translation / Languages API
- 45:01 – Questions
The After Party
Google I/O 2009 was a two day event. I presented on day one and at the end of day one Google through a massive after party. Here I took a quick video near the end of the evening.