Independence Square, Colombo. On one side, the beauty of the city. On the other, the biggest geek event of the year. Look to this side, towards the Sri Lanka Foundation. Purple lights and crowds of black shirts, bearing the Mobitel logo on the back and the Google I/O logo in huge letter on the front. Walk in, and you see neat rows of hardcore disciples of software listening intently to huge screens. By itself, a sizeable crowd for a Sri Lankan software gathering – but it doesn’t end here: Push in. Take a left, and suddeny you find yourself in the vast auditorium that hides within, with row upon row upon row of black-clad attendees – a vast crowd representing almost every university and geekdom in Sri Lanka. Six hundred people. And counting.
Welcome to the Google I/O Extended, Colombo. The first ever in Sri Lanka. This is THE place to be right now for any and all Sri Lankan geeks: the one place where the power of software is apparent. Get your Lime Pie (in a pun on the next Android version’s name, they’re actually serving out lime pies) and let’s hit the crowd.
First things first: I introduce myself and sneak to where Ahamed Nishadh, comrade-in-code, is holding the fort. Have I missed anything? Not much. The intro from the previous year’s Google I/O is playing. There’s a TON of laptops out here. Seriously, some of them are brand-new. You can see people adjusting the cloth keyboard covers. Nevermind. Let’s sit, watch and learn.
“When we first started, we ran into a problem,” says Rohan Jayaweera, Country Consultant at Google, Inc. “We had five hundred people who signed up. We expected a hundred. I thought, nevermind, this is Sri Lanka: they won’t all show up.
A day later, we ran into a bigger problem,
Over a thousand people had signed up. We were running out of space.”
Looking around, I’d say that for the first time in Sri Lankan history, everybody who signed up actually showed up. I don’t recall signing up, but I’m here with my NFC card and the works.
There’s speeches. Speeches are unavoidable. Rohan takes the stage: Keshan: Janna: the entire team responsible for Google Maps Sri Lanka. Keshan explains how one of the main attractions of today – the hackathon – is going to work: Jenna explains how and why, in an internal Google competition, she picked Sri Lanka as the place for Google to expand to next – and how that let to Google moving here in force. But here’s the countdown, and here’s the best part of the day: Google I/O, live from San Francisco. And a random, amazingly cool news flash: Google stock just hit 908 US dollars. Now everything starts in truth. Follow us on Twitter (@readmelk), point your browser over to the Strap in.
Watch Keynote here:
*Countdown begins around 5:30