Non-Technical Things I Learned from Google IO 2016

Innovators come in many varieties

One thing that struck me about Google I/O was the variety of innovators and change-makers taking the stage. Some of these individuals were my age, in their early twenties, and some were much older, and many were in-between. People of various races were represented. Both males and females lead dynamic talks and presentations.

As an aspiring innovator myself, it was beyond motivating to see people like me teaching others about emerging technologies, social trends, accessibility, and more. As a new software engineer in the industry, it is all too easy to feel like your only role is to produce bug-free code. However, the people my age on the Google IO stage showed me otherwise; that it is in fact possible to go beyond the technical and to connect with people, explore the impacts of their technical work on society, and step up as teachers and mentors for others regardless of experience or age.

It was thrilling to see an older Google employee state during his presentation that it had been his dream for thirty years to present on the Shoreline Amphitheater stage, and to never give up. I sure know I won’t!

tl;dr Allow people from all walks of life to be innovators and influencers, and the result will be a greater sense of inclusion and representation.

VR Finally Won Me Over

It is true- I have been a semi-VR skeptic for quite some time. I was convinced that VR is an anti-social experience, and can lead to people shunning the real world. After seeing the Google Expeditions presentation, I am glad to say that I am wrong.

I learned about the possibility for VR to change education- by allowing students to explore places that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to explore, like the site of the Chernobyl incident or inside the human human body on a cellular level. VR can also allow the students to relive historical moments and gain a visual context they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

I learned that if done right, VR can be a social experience. Apparently, people once feared the movie as well because they feared it would be an anti-social experience that an individual would watch alone- and look at us today, with movie theaters and group Netflix binges! If the hardware experience and software experience are done right, VR can in fact be social. ( On a side note, this has become a new interest of mine- social VR- and I will be investigating it in weeks to come).

Also, VR can be used to supplement real life field trips by adding information panels and visual overlays. I’m wondering if that would be considered more of AR? VR or AR, consider me fascinated!

tl;dr Keep an open mind and learn more about technologies you are skeptical about

Users are easily frustrated

  • User engagement decreases when scrolling performance decreases.
  • 40% of people abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • 92% of people give up if they’re not able to sign into a website right away.

tl;dr Add some extra effort to improving your user experience

Being in the open is better

With many sessions being streamed, Google I/O was able to increase participation from around the world. This also served to benefit many attendees who were unable to make it into the many limited-capacity sessions. It is also an inclusive strategy- with tickets running a high price of $900.00, Google made sure that price was not a barrier to allowing as many people as possible to gain knowledge about their emerging products and new approaches to doing things.

tl;dr Less people miss out and more people learn when you leverage existing technologies to be inclusive

That’s just some of the things I learned! How about you? What did you like about IO16? Sound off below!



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