Money was thrown at this. SO MUCH MONEY.
You know a lot of thought and money was thrown into an event when you see trashcans covered in black fabric
so they look nice. As soon as I arrived at the Moscone Convention Center I was handed a free Google cardboard kit (but it’s not Google cardboard, it’s Intel Cardboard?). I had not even stepped inside the building to register. One of these cardboard contraptions retails at $23.95 (Knox Labs). I was feeling pretty optimistic about the level of swag this conference was about to have. When I checked in to get my badge I also got a free backpack. A super awesome backpack with all the pockets and padding a girl could ever need.
The free Galileo board retails at $69 (Mouser Electronics).And I happened to win a ZenPad C 7.0 Tablet purchasable on Amazon for $99. Not to mention the free meals, the complimentary showing of All Work All Play, and an $84,000 experience. Yes. So much money.
Baby-level (read: me-level) activities were readily available
I am what some in the geek world would label as a n00b. I don’t develop, I write. I have dabbled in programming, but I have yet to fall in love with it. BUT. Intel accounted for attendees such as myself. I went straight to the Maker stations and played. I cheated on a video game by accident and got a toy to take home. I got a string of LED lights that came with these instructions: 1) Put batteries in 2) Turn on (not verbatim). And a wonderful time was had by all.
Even better than the maker stations were the RealSense exhibits. These exhibits were all about enhancing the Internet of Things (IoT) with haptics, sensors, cameras…you name it! I stood in front of a mirror where a virtual necklace was placed on the neck of my reflection. I drove (and crashed) a car simulation that professional drivers use to train! Excitedly I asked how much the apparatus costs. “$84,000,” he replied, and I filed this item away for a hypothetical future where I can afford things. Some folks were getting 3D images of themselves etched on glass. Yes, IoT and RealSense are indeed super cool.
Engaged with Other Non-Developers
One of the main things I did as an attendee was people watch. I was curious! And I spoke with a handful of people as I waited in lines and it seemed that, from my random sampling, that people were either Media badges, non-tech employees at tech companies, or tech employees without a developing skill set. But then again I could have been self-selecting those like me. Those stuck in lines for the more fun and magical exhibits.
Non-engaging exhibits. But there was food.
At some point of the day I found myself in the exhibition portion of the convention. The area where everyone is throwing swag (think pens, bags, T-shirts) and trying to sell a product that looks an awful lot like the product of the neighboring booth….at least to an untrained eye like my own. However, this area had food. There were wonderful caterers cooking up risotto and serving hors d’oeuvres. It was awesome. It was also here that I learned that one use case for the free Galileo board I received was to build a whack-a-mole machine.
Wonderful gender ratio. Racial diversity left much to be desired.
Women everywhere. On stages, off stages, on the streets, in the building. Wonderful, wonderful. But I had a difficult time spotting the racial diversity that the tech industry is often criticized for lacking. Which left some questions for tomorrow: Are the women attending techies? (more than me, at least) How does outreach for this sort of event happen? How many attendees were given a free pass? How does Silicon Valley actually conceptualize diversity? (is it JUST color and gender?) Definitely attending the panel on diversity tomorrow afternoon.
The CEO looks like Steve Carell
I could not shake this thought during his keynote presentation.[Upon further research, and looking at images, he does not look that much like Steve Carell]
Giant Spiders. Pls no.
When are people going to make cute animatronics?
Free movie screening!
All Work All Play was an amazing documentary about the pro-gaming industry. It was a wonderful intro to League of Legends and I can stop judging my roommate for playing it every day. With more than 100 characters to choose from?! How can you get tired of that? You just can’t.
Dreaming up the future
All of these wonderful experiences left me wondering…. How do we bring different people to events like these? They are expensive, naturally, but efforts are already being made to include people with different backgrounds (exhibit A: Me). But I put myself in a position where I could be invited. I attended a developing workshop at IBM and met an Intel contact there. So how do we get more diversity in events like THOSE? Ultimately, the main challenge is the fear. Young adults have already been hammered with the idea that they can’t or shouldn’t. I, fortunately, don’t take negative feedback (I take feedback sandwiched with positive affirmation). We need events like these for teens. Teens from disadvantaged backgrounds sponsored by large companies to spend 2 days with groundbreaking technology. You want to ask someone to develop the future of your product? Then ask someone who grew up breathing and living the technology you have sold thus far. Ask young people who are not used to the status quo of the industry. Ask those who don’t think of the coolest application first, but the most important.[All images were taken by me or of me. Need new potato to take better pictures]