Last weekend James Broad went to Ankara, Turkey to present Yahoo! APIs at METU University to an audience of computer science undergraduates.
The aim of the presentation was to introduce some of the tools and services Yahoo! provides to developers, and raise exposure of the YDN in Turkey.
Here's what he had to say about the trip and event.
Prior to the event, I took some time in considering the audience and how what works in western Europe may not have the same appeal in eastern Europe. I narrowed down the API selection we would promote down to:
As a developer I understand that in order to experiment with new technologies, there is an incentive factor to get hacking. I am more inclined to trial if someone can easily introduce me to their product/service. With this in mind, my focus was to have a example driven presentation to show how easy it is to use our service and to help prevent frustration by showing the way in rather than sticking to what can be done with our services.
Sitting in the presentation/advertisement prior to ours, I glanced around the lecture theatre to see a plethora of empty seats. Did they all get bored of spending their precious day of rest, listening to talks and just drift off home? To make matters worse, people were slowly leaving as I was scanning the room. Not a good sign.
After the break it was our turn and our initial fears of a poor turn-out were quickly forgotten. The theatre started packing out with what seemed to be a very keen audience.
By the time the two very professional student event hosts introduced me to present I found it hard to spot an empty seat, nor an uninterested face. Yahoo! was obviously a company these students were keen to learn more about.
How did the presentation go down?
I didn't feel much like giving a presentation but instead I was interested in interacting with the developers in an open forum. In retrospect this was a good idea. As soon as I invited the audience to ask grilling questions there was no hesitation whatsoever. At any free moment, consistently, a handful of arms shot up, some so eager to fire their question, they could not wait for the microphone to reach them - they just shouted out instead.
A few common themes seemed to emerge from the questions, mostly related to improvements that could be made to existing Yahoo! products and general questions on our media platforms (e.g. Flickr). I answered these questions as honestly and as un-biased as possible, as I wouldn't expect anything less from other speakers. When it came to feature requestsI tended to go for "If it is not currently in our systems now, it is likely to be on their roadmap, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to send your feedback to the relevant product". I also offered to forward some of the suggestions myself.
One question that stood out to me especially was, "What is it like to work at Yahoo!?", to which I asked back if they wanted to the off-the-record version or not. Of course, they did want it and I answered (in a nutshell), that Yahoo! is a great company to work for, and that I personally don't imagine working for a better company.
Considering we had an all Turkish crowd, they were especially patient with interpreting my (perceived) speedy Londoner talking style, and seemed to understand everything I was saying, based on the questions and feedback.
I felt very welcome, prior, during and after our presentations, something I attribute to the very hospitable nature of the Turkish, the quality of the students at the university and a genuine respect for Yahoo! I had a great time presenting, socialising and visiting the university and Ankara itself, and would be more than happy to return.
Part of the event at Ankara METU University was based on student hack submissions with the brief simply to use Yahoo! APIs to their best ability. A short time before the event we judged the submissions based on their usefulness, ability and execution. We then shortlisted the entries to fit in with a first, second and third prize. The prize would consist of a cash reward and a certificate for their hack.
The closing presentation at METU was presenting awards and I presented the following students with awards for their hacks:
- Ozge Pekel
- Cemre Gungor
- Berkan Kisaoglu
Yahoo Developer Network