Inspiration From F8: Dream Big & Innovate

Me, inside the Developer’s Garage at F8!

A couple of weeks ago I attended F8, the annual Facebook Developer Conference. My company jumped at the opportunity to have me represent them at the conference for the second year in a row. So thank you, Phone2Action! Aside from the amazing technology, I walked away feeling fired up by the industry and incredibly grateful to be working in it. I’m telling you, it was truly inspirational and if you couldn’t attend, catch up with recorded videos from every session.

The conference was, as you can imagine, back-to-back showcases of cool Facebook advances like Bots for Messenger and Facebook Surround 360, a 3D 360-degree camera system. There was also the unveiling of the Free Basics Simulator & Demographic Insights, which makes it easier for developers to see how their service will appear in a product, as well as better understand who’s using their service. It was awesome to see these new tech tools up close and hear from the engineers who designed them.

Dream Big, and Execute Bigger

On the very first day, Facebook announced that it has built, and is refining, it’s own airplane. During his keynote, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “if you told me 12 years ago that one day Facebook was going to build a plane, I would’ve told you that you were crazy.” Named Aquila, the Facebook aircraft will fly at 60,000 feet and beam down broadband internet service for a few months at a time, which it receives from nearby cities via Free Space Optics (laser links). Its wingspan is greater than a Boeing 737, and it weighs less than a small car. But get this, Aquila will provide free internet service in rural areas all over the world that currently lack hi-speed connection by utilizing the Free Basics platform.

Aquila, Facebook’s own aircraft — all of this weighs less than a small car

Even Zuckerberg couldn’t have imagined that his company could provide such a massive tech tool, but that didn’t stop them from dreaming big and executing. This is something we should all do. How often do you stifle your imagination and creativity because you’re afraid to fail? Or better yet, because you think it too difficult? Game changing innovation comes from those who aren’t afraid to dream big and those disciplined enough to get it done.

Innovate for the Greater Good

Next I attended a panel discussion on the Free Basics platform, which not only makes the Internet accessible, but also provides critical services like local news and government updates, health care information, travel conditions and details on employment opportunities. The panelists represented companies and organizations whose content has been delivered to over a billion people via the Free Basics platform. When you think about it, the recipients of this free innovation previously had not been fully connected to the internet. And now they have the world at their fingertips. People who can’t afford a doctor’s visit can now seek medical advice via sites like 1DOC3. Women in Bangladesh are able to ask anonymous questions about their health on sites like maya.com.

Messenger Bot sessions were always at max occupancy!

This kind of transformation of technology is incredibly important and needed. What good is the greatest invention or innovation if it cannot be used by those who need it most? Free Basics is a great tool that can help leverage international projects to give those who need them­ a voice. If you are in the tech field, Free Basics is certainly worth exploring in an effort to take your work to the next level, reaching audiences who can redefine their lives using technology that we can freely access and build.

I left this conference with a strong sense of responsibility and a commitment to creating a platform using Free Basics to connect under­­-connected populations. I encourage you to watch the panel discussion from F8 to see other ways that companies and organizations are using the Free Basics to reach underserved communities. And I challenge you to create something that could make a difference in the lives others.