Google #io17 | “If you`re going to San-Francisco…”

The things I wish I knew before the Google IO 2017 or what Scott McKenzie didn’t tell you!

Whereas everyone is writing awesome technical summaries about the conference, I’ve decided to share my general impressions when they are still fresh in my memory. It was my first time at Google IO and I was extremely impressed by the scale of the conference.

My points are mostly addressed to newcomers and may be too obvious for non-first-time visitors. I hope my tips will save you some time and help you to enjoy the next conference at the most.


Before the event:

  1. If you are going for the first time you will definitely have a hard choice — “Where to stay? SF or closer to Mountain View”. If you only have a few spare days before or after, I would recommend to spend them in San-Francisco and for the conference itself move somewhere closer to Mountain View. It is cheaper and saves time. But if you decide to stay in San-Francisco for the whole period, shuttles go to Mountain View every 5 mins early in the morning taking approx 50 minutes. I would also recommend to have breakfast at IO. It will allow you to leave your place earlier and avoid traffic jams on your way.
  2. Register a day before. Explore the place to avoid spending your time during the event. You cannot go inside the venue, but at least you can find the entrance and check the parking lot, if you travel by car. There may also be a long queue just before the keynote.
  3. Bring a jacket, cap and sun protection cream. It is cold in the early mornings/late evenings and super hot during the day. It is relevant for the whole bay area.
  4. Study the schedule in detail the day before, make a list of interesting presentations, register for them.
  5. Prepare your questions to experts — this conference is the right time to ask questions directly to Googlers.

Event:

  1. If you want to have a perfect view of the keynote stage from your seat, you need to have breakfast in the queue for the keynote at the first day. Queues are huge for every sector. I came 1h and 30mins before the keynote (30 mins before the doors opened) and there was already a queue of 500–700 persons. Yes, you have a seat in the allocated sector but there you’ll have to find a seat in the shadow for if it is sunny, it’ll be too hot!
  2. Note the things you want to check later. I am not a fan of taking notes but the amount of information showering you, will easily make a mess in your head. With notes you can find which sessions to see again and what topics to read more easily (check also these sketchnotes by @chiuki, maybe you can make some?). At least you will be able to answer questions from your colleagues “What talks did you visit?”!
  3. Each talk (except keynote) requires a seat reservation. Add several talks parallel to your favourites’ list but register for one (more is not allowed). If there are no places, you will be added to a waiting list. On the spot it will be clearer what you are interested in and what is not. 
    There may be announcements of new presentations, as was the case this year with Kotlin talks (Introduction to Kotlin & Life is great and everything will be ok, Kotlin is here). Stay tuned. Reservation closes one hour before the talk, but if you changed your preference, don’t worry, there is always Stand-by line for each talk.
  4. Don’t be afraid of Stand-by lines. Sometimes they go even faster, but it is also possible that they don’t longer accept attendees… I was able to join the presentation by Chet Haase and Chris Craik 5 minutes after it started, because fortunately for me (and few more guys), some people had left.
  5. Presentations, Office Hours sessions, Sandboxes, Codelabs — there are a lot of various activities for studying and having fun. Sandboxes are real fun!
  6. Visit all Sandboxes! All! Even those not of your tech areas. It’s interesting and fun. It is a good area for inspiration. I visited all of them when there were no extremely interesting talks (interesting they were always).
  7. If you brought some questions or got some during the conference, you could ask them after the presentation if speakers concerned a Q/A session. You can also ask them during the office hours, when you could talk to Googlers face to face with no rush. This was my favourite part! I received an answer to a question which I had not been able to solve for the past few months. Moreover, you could always ask your questions on Twitter (there was a magic tag this year: #io17request, which helped you to receive the answers).
  8. There was a lot of food during lunches for which you had to queue up. If you had not come at the first break, you would remain without a choice. Some people care…
  9. Communicate a lot. Lunch or coffee breaks are the right times to share your first thoughts and observe someone else’s. During the conference people are mostly open-minded and eager to talk.
  10. Same with speakers! The Google IO speakers are open-minded and can easily talk to everyone about everything, even more than you expected. Don’t be shy, but don’t be insolent too. Be ready to wait in a queue to communicate with your idol speaker. It also happens…
Just Google IO afterpart! Sergii Zhuk, Chet Haase, me and Miguel Mario.

Surroundings:

  1. To see the Silicon Valley you need a car. Public transport is missing in the bay area. We couldn’t rent a car via rental services because all cars were fully booked, probably by smarter IO attendees. We used Turo service to rent a car. It is like an airbnb, but then for cars. Cheap, easy, fast and online. We booked a car at 01:00am and received confirmation within a few minutes (not sure if this automatic booking confirmation is available for all cars). And bring a credit card with you to the US! Yes Credit! It is a rule for all car rental services in the US (also for Turo). Use my code to receive 25$ discount for the first rental — https://turo.com/c/oleksandrt10.
  2. Facebook or/and Google tours. Because you are an IT person (otherwise you would not want to go to Google IO) you most likely have connections in one of these big companies. It is possible to have a tour inside these companies supervised by an employee. If you don’t have connections there, check your network because you probably do. They are worth visiting. These companies are completely different from the regular ones.

All info is relevant for 2017. Maybe not in 2018.

P.S. Write comments if I missed something, I will extend my article.

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