gSouthAfrica 2.0 Day 1

Ok, so gSouthAfrica Day 1 didn’t really grab my interest in the slightest, perhaps the coolest thing I saw was some of the features around Google+ that are either just released (Google Ripples) or planned soon (like the integration with YouTube to add music play lists and share and control these from Plus, although can’t really see a use case for a built in music player in Plus?). Anyway, so besides the funky Plus things coming the rest of Day 1 was pretty much a rehash of last year. The keynote again focused on Google’s plans for expanding into Africa revolving around solving some of the key problems to introducing wide scale technology to the continent. I must admit they are making some nice strides to solving this but are a far way from making Google an everyday name in the dark reaches of Africa.

All in all for me the day was boring, but then all the technologies they spoke about I know on a deeper level already so I expected that. Day 2 (Developer Day) sounds like it could be good though (at least I hope so) and I’m actually looking forward to it…

gSouthAfrica 2.0 Hackathon

Attended the 1st day of gSouthAfrica 2.0 (, the second incantation of the Google South Africa conference. The first day was a Hackathon focused on the Google+ API ( in its current incantation. For me the day was a bit of a let down, the Plus API is severely limited with only the basic ability to read data and even that is limited. There was a bit of a competition with the Hackathon but for me it could’ve been organized better. The turnout for me was also surprisingly low, in the end I did a bit of experimentation with the API and that was ok, didn’t really get to build anything constructive, in fact I couldn’t even think of something constructive TOO build with the API, although this could be partly due to the fact that I’m knee deep in Android development.

In closing a nice idea the Hackathon, next time though, and especially if you’re going to make a competition of it, create a common goal for everyone to do, like a build a particular app that will use a lot of the API. Also, Google need pull their thumbs out of their butts and seriously ramp up the deployment of the Google+ API’s full functionality if they’re hoping to get any kind of value out of it, in fact, I’m almost thinking if they don’t then Plus is at risk of running down the same track as Blackberry… a dead horse looking for a place to fall over.

Let’s see what tomorrow holds, it’s the official Day 1 of the conference, all about Marketing and other such interesting topics 😉 Lets hope they don’t dumb it down too much.

Google South Africa conference (day 2)

I’m back in Joburg and I figured I better get around to writing a Day 2 post. Day 2 was, for me anyway, not as interesting as Day 1, but nevertheless worth it (it’s a fault of mine that I’m way too technical and not focused enough on “the other stuff”).

It’s focus was mostly around monetizing (Adsense / Adwords / YouTube for Business) and optimizing (Webmaster Tools), and some useful tips came out of the sessions. There was also a rehash of the first days strategy talks (what Google are doing in Africa), compressed and optimized for more business orientated people, as well as a demo on Voice, Goggles and Maps(with a monetization/marketing slant).

One of the things that stuck out for me was the YouTube talk, the stats on video usage is phenomenal, with predictions that up to 80 or so percent of internet traffic will be video within the foreseeable future. Is the internet as we know it dead? I think that as it stands now, and based on those figures, it may not be dead, but will most certainly change in a significant way. Something else I wasn’t aware of was that YouTube had a South African branch, which is awesome, means all those videos are now local traffic for us.

One more thing that stuck in my head was the somewhat corporate way in which Google dealt with the complaints from two people regarding being blocked from Adsense. I’ve personally experienced the automated messages warning against “unsavory behavior” and realize the frustration of trying to find out exactly what the Google checking algorithms consider as “unsavory”, and not being able to communicate with a “human” on the other side, so I know how the must feel. I think people need to realize that Google is a listed company with shareholders, they need to protect their interests and with large volume obviously there’s no feasible way they can treat everyone equally, so they give special treatment to large account holders, it’s just a fact of business. One thing I don’t agree with is the lack of information when you do query a threatening letter, not sure what the Google strategy is here but it’s not really very, well, “warm”.

The conference closed (for me anyway) with a “website clinic” where Google went through some guest websites giving suggestions on what was and wasn’t good practice, an interesting exercise and I got some interesting tips from the session. Unfortunately I had to leave for the airport at that point so missed the last few sessions and, other than dodging a few thunderstorms, had an uneventful flight back.

All in all the 2 days were worth it, connected to a few people, got to meet some Googlers and hear them talk about the interesting technologies I’ve been using. The food was nice, the venue was awesome and Cape Town is still beautiful (wouldn’t mind moving back there). Hopefully they will be back next year, although I think then it should be up in Johannesburg so that they guys up here can experience it as well.

Interestingly enough, the word “cool” was not used at all in this post…