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26 September 2008, 15:30

Community Live - Google Open Source Jam

Dj Walker-Morgan

Google has been holding small open source jams at its London Google Engineering Office for nearly a year now. Heise online UK went along to see how it worked.

At the Google Open Source Jam
Zoom At the Google Open Source Jam
The Google Open Source Jam is a small event of around seventy people, and you need to sign up in advance to attend. The attendees were all developers, but from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, from bio-infomatics to enterpise developers, working in many different languages. Rather than the more usual, start with talks, follow with food and drink, the evening started with pizza, beer and much more, laid on by Google which created a social tone to the rest of the event.

This Open Source Jam was dedicated to a free for all of lightning talks, 5 minutes of talk, 3 minutes of Q&A, any and all open source related talk accepted. The talks included stinky code, social networks for Africa, why server side JavaScript will be the next big thing, the day in the life of a check-in, home automation, Google Gears geolocation and what's bad and good in build tools.

The content of the talks was again developer oriented. For example, the Stinky code is about the idea that an experience developer should be able to "smell" bad code and some of the sources of that odour. The day in a life of a check-in was a session for the group to talk about one speakers own experience with continuous integration. There was also a lightning talk about the press and open source, which reminded us that lightning talks are a great way to develop the art of quickly presenting a subject.

The lightning talks were also complemented by people being invited, between talks, to talk about a subject dear to them, while the next lightning talk was being prepared which made the whole thing flow well. At the end of the formal talks, discussions continued, in the lobby and on the way to the pub next door.

The Google Open Source Jam is, very much, an open source developers event, which seems to work well. No one technology dominates, making it a different experience to a user group; we look forward to returning to it and seeing how it works with its other format of longer talks with breakout sessions.

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