SNAP sent eight (eight? EIGHT!) staffers to the wonderful Bay Area to attend F8 in Sept. Here is Part 2 of our takeaways on San Francisco and the F8 conference.
Walking into F8 was an incredible experience. A huge part of this year’s F8 centered around data visualization, and the first room of the conference did NOT skimp in this department. On one screen was a globe showing new connections between Facebook users in real-time. The thing was firing so fast you couldn’t count the connections. On another screen was a real-time dashboard comparing Facebook interests, comparing stars like Lady Gaga and Rihanna or movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Breakfast Club. The number of graphs, pie charts, and animations on the main display was staggering.
The conference hall was less flashy, but the ambience was flawless. F8 gave a very convincing rendition of a young, hip tech conference. We caught some seats and took a SNAP family photo!
Watching the keynote was one part hilarious Adam Sandberg and two parts crazy mind twist. People have been talking about semantic web for ages, but most had never really thought of Facebook as a data company. It seems obvious in retrospect, and, at least at SNAP, we had been talking about the ramifications of the “Like” and the Newsfeed, etc., for quite a bit. The keynote, however, really brought everything together. The new features were concisely presented, and the possibilities seemed endless. Thumbs up all around!
A great thing about conference trips is the additional time to hang out with your team. F8 gave us a few days to get dinner, have a drink, and talk about life. Here’s a photo of us enjoying some of San Francisco’s fine dining!
Folks in the tech sector have such interesting backgrounds, and SNAP is no exception. Just in the group of eight that made the trek out west, we had people from seven different cities, three religions, a surfer, a ballet dancer, a high school pun-club president, an ex-World of Warcraft guild leader, a Belgian National Championship Futsal player, the best high school 3-point shooter in Long Island, an expert Rubix Cube Solver (solved in under 30 seconds!), and TWO guys that can beat Contra without the 30 lives code. Combine that crew with some fine dining and classy venues, and there was bound to be some mischief!
And where better to cause mayhem than the now infamous Sean Parker after party. It’s hard to describe the opulence, but suffice to say this party was definitely the most well-produced party we’d ever attended. Every drink was top-shelf. The venue was dazzling. It wasn’t crowded, and when you decided to take a seat, there was an adorned divan straight out of a 10th century harem. Jane’s Addiction and Snoop Dogg, I mean SNOOP D-O-DOUBLE-G, were there! It seemed like everyone was dancing, and it seemed everyone was a nerd.
Let’s dwell on that point for a minute. After a lifetime of being a nerd, the literal bottom of the social barrel, this party did not compute. How did this happen? How had, after all the years of succumbing to the torment associated with liking nerdy things like math, technology and computers, a party like this come onto our radar? How had what seemed like millions of dollars been spent on a lavish, cavernous bedchamber dedicated to the drunken debauchery of a group of engineers? How had some of the premier artists of the world gathered to entertain us en masse, at the behest of two “application developer” companies? What the hell was going on?
There was just one explanation: tech is now sexy. The party was an exclamation point on decades of literal and figurative development. Finally, with Spotify and Facebook and the whole host of social app companies out there, including SNAP, FINALLY, it is cool to be a nerd. Bravo!
The day following the after-party was the final attraction: the Hack-a-thon! The effects of the top shelf liquor were likely not well received by dozens of groggy web developers as they trekked down to Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters to dig deep into the new Facebook APIs. For us, the much-needed breakfast before the trip down south provided ample opportunity for brainstorming the perfect gag Facebook app. The task was simple: code the coolest “verb” in Facebook. After an hour of pontificating over verbs long, short, dull, snazzy, and occasionally inappropriate, we settled on “commit”, as in “I just commited some code”. Obviously this would be fully integrated into our github account. I mean, who doesn’t want to show off his or her commits in the new Facebook stream?
Sure, it’s not the snazziest new app, but it works and you can view the code. Head on over to our Lead Dev’s GitHub account to check it out. Here’s a screenie of the app in action:
Disclaimer: Right now you have to be an admin of an application to get it to run on the Facebook Timeline. If you want to poke around the code and make your own app, feel free! Warning: there is limited documentation. Good luck!
Well that about wraps it up for our thoughts on F8. Overall, it was a fantastic experience for us. We got to play around with some powerful new APIs, hang out with the best and brightest in Silicon Valley, party like rap stars, and represent SNAP. Here’s looking forward to the next conference. We’ll be ready!