Google DevFest Rome 2014 (University Roma TRE, November 8, 2014)

(This post is part of a serie on GDG Rome DevFest 2014, Italian translation available here)

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  • photos & images taken by Google+ and Twitter

On November 8, 2014 I participated to the Developer Fest hosted by the Department of Engineering at the University Roma TRE and organized by Rome Google Developer Group (GDG).
I would like to get an idea of what was cooking in the Big G the “best company in the world” according to Fortune 2014 and a “Great Place to Work” as many worldwide job classifications.
I only attended the conference in the morning which was more “philosophical” than technological and not the “code-labs” scheduled in the afternoon which proposed practical sessions focused on the various development environments and solutions offered by Google.
Entering the conference-room I expected a formal context (read: boring!) as usual in these slide-centered meetings but - surprise ! –instead it was a sort of mega cheerful and improvised assembly unlacking funny incidents (Murphy's Law!): a microphone that did not work, fire alarm siren that sounded at inopportune moments, and so on.
Here are my impressions and notes!

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The agenda

The program, strict and multicolored as the Google homepage, simply recited:

     9:30 Welcome - Paul Merialdo and Antonella Blasetti
     10:00 Serena Zonca - Virtual Storytelling
     10:45 Massimo Chiriatti - Work Games
     11:30 Darius Arya - Ancient (and Modern) Rome live
     12:15 Sergio Paolini - The Web and neurosurgery
     13:00 The Lab and the Group's activities
     14:30 The Lab
     17:00: Treasure Hunt

Paolo Merialdo and Antonella Blasetti: get the party started!

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The conference began with Paolo, professor at the University Roma TRE and starter-up, who gave the welcome to all present and Antonella (the “boss” of the event), which clarified the spirit of the conference: the Google DevFest is not a formal lecture-meeting but an interactive party where people meet to exchange experiences, strengthen motivation and plan joint activities to do together.

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“We are not here just to talk about new technologies” underlied Antonella “but primarily to share information, to understand how the world changes around us and imagine together how we can facilitate this change thanks to the tools provided by Google”.
“To accomplish this” continued Antonella “we begin with three different speakers linked by two elements in common:

  • the passion and excellence in their own professional activity,
  • the need to adopt innovative technologies to do better quality-work”.

Serena Zonca: Virtual Storytelling

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The first speaker was Serena, editor, journalist, editor and founder of www.autopubblicarsi.it .
She conducted an elegant and passionate presentation on virtual reality (VR) and in conclusion proposed to engage all of us in a collective project for the realization of an “immersive” electronic book that could allow the reader to enjoy and co-participate to the narrative using, for example, a VR platform already available and chipper: Oculus, Kinect and date-glove.

Massimo Chiriatti: Work Games

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Massimo is a technologist, blogger and contributor for “Il Sole 24 Ore” the most important Italian business newspaper.
He gave a ironic and nice presentation (here in pdf, 14 slides, 790 K) on the real “world of work”  illustrating risks & opportunities arising from new technologies.
According to Massimo we need to abandon the idea of working all our work-life with a single employer: the average life of the big US companies is decreasing while simultaneously human life expectancy, also working, is increasing.
The present (and the future) of work requires adopting a nomadic attitude that is the capability of rapidly moving between industries keeping in mind that the competition between those who aspire to be hired is based both on the specialization of his own skills and on his ability to “communicate” and sell his expertise especially through the new digital media.

Darius Arya: let’s develop immersive multimedia experiences about history

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Darius is a (multi-platform) archaeologist, TV documentarian and social media influencer.
His talk focused on how to tell Rome’s history through social and digital media like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on.
He presented a couple of videos: “Ancient Rome Live” (Youtube) and “Save Rome: Preserving the Eternal City in the 21st Century” (YouTube), to explain the idea that we can better preserve our common history and heritage through new media outlets.
According to Darius YouTube offers a great venue combined with other learning platforms and applications.

Sergio Paolini: the Web and neurosurgery

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Sergio, who is a neurosurgeon, gave a brilliant presentation on how the web has radically altered the field of surgery in the last 10 years both in the doctor-patient interaction and for training and also the clinical practice of doctors.
Sergio also highlighted the limits and delays of Italy in this field especially as concerns the public administration.
According to Sergio new technologies can play a key role in this field: the entry of the Internet in the operating room is producing significant improvements in medical practice by sharing information between operators; further progress can be expected thanks to the so-called wearable computing like Google Glass.

Conclusions

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The first part of GDG Rome DevFest 2014 ended with some quick conclusions by Antonella Blasetti:

  • we are here to establish a real community where everyone can contribute to;
  • this is a new world so we have to think in a new way: technology solutions must be built “from below” and realized by joint actions;
  • often the “users” of the new technologies are ahead in terms of knowledge compared to the technicians as demonstrated by the present speakers;
  • different skills enrich the solutions.

Concluding, Antonella proposed to work on the projects launched during the speeches: virtual storytelling, integrated communication, web-enriched cultural heritage; the idea is to merge all of these exciting proposals to realize for example a new rich experience web site following the model that Google already produced for the city of Marseille.

Rome DevFest 2014 code-labs

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