At the beginning of March, I got an email from Google inviting me to their annual I/O conference. Now, I've been to conferences before, but mostly smaller local affairs in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I skimmed the email, shrugged "huh, that's interesting", and in a fit of anxiety, promptly relegated it to the "read" section of my inbox.
You see, I had just a six weeks prior landed a sweet job at an awesome company in Tel Aviv, and only a few months before that, my third daughter came into the world (Mazel tov! lechaim's all around). So while I was certainly intrigued at the possibilities, I wasn't in any headspace to seriously consider taking any practical steps towards following through on this invitation. And that's how I ended up ignoring an invitation to Google I/O for about a month.
I woke up however, when a friend of mine of one of the Social Media Platforms Which Shall Not Be Named confided that he, too, had received an invitation, and that he, too, was super-anxious about it. Seeing my friend in a similar situation kind of put the fire under me, so I decided to ride the waves of anxiety and try for it anyways.
I logged in to the conference site on a Friday afternoon, only to see that all tickets were already booked, but there was some fine print at the bottom of the page saying that I could keep trying in case of cancellations. My heart kind of dropped. We're shomer shabbos in my family, which means from Friday at sunset until Saturday night at nightfall, we don't touch our computers or phones. "Nu," I said, "If the Good Lord wants me to go, I'll go, and if He doesn't, I won't". So I put it out of my mind until havdallah. I logged on again Sunday and saw an available ticket, so I jumped on it.
When you sign up for a ticket, Google gives you this stress-inducing warning that you only have 30 minutes to fill out the form or you lose the ticket, just in case you weren't anxious enough about flying across the world to go to a giant conference for the first time and all on your own. It's cool.
Around that time an old friend from back home in Toronto, now living in San Fran, kindly offered to host me. He even went out of his way to buy kosher groceries. What a mentsch!
The only thing to arrange now was the flight. I checked the calendar; since the event is ending thursday night, if I wanted to get back to Israel in time to make it home before shabbos (a.k.a. pumpkin time), I'd have to either leave early or stay later, I haven't been back home in a few years, so I booked a Mother's day weekend stopover with my family in Toronto instead (love you, Mom).
- I have no idea why I was invited, which is kind of weird and kind of exciting
- I have no idea what to expect
- I'll get to meet up with one or two webdev chatroom/twitter friends but that's it
- It feels somehow wrong to be flying to a fun geeky vacation while my brothers and sisters in Southern Israel are being bombed by terrorists three times a minute 😢
So what are my goals? First and foremost, my goal is to go. I want to try something new, meet some new people, get out of my comfort zone a little. I haven't done something this impulsive since I moved to Israel (a story for another time...), and it's pretty exciting.
Next, I want to learn. Ideally, I'll get the chance to hone my web-components-fu a little bit at some of the code labs. I also want to sharpen up some web-animations-api work I'm doing. I also signed up for some introductory ML sessions. I've got a decent overview of how it works but have never built anything with it. Let's giv'er a try.
So will I have the time of my life, or just get lost in an uncanny augmented reality valley? Will my mind be blown by the best and brightest that NorCal has to offer, or will it be like walking into a real-life episode of Silicon Valley? And, crucially, will there be swag?
Tune in next time for part two of "Let's Fly to Google I/O".