Reps/SIGs/Evangelism Reps/Conference participation/Over The Air 2013

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Over The Air is a hackathon/conference organised by people working in the IT industry coming from different backgrounds. It's non profit so relies entirely on sponsorship and volunteer contributions (people offering to speak there, helping around, etc).

Conference details

"The 6th annual Over the Air will be held on Friday & Saturday the 27th & 28th of September at Bletchley Park. For two days we’ll be based at Station X, hacking in the shadows of the WWII Enigma & Lorenz code-breakers, and hanging out at the home of Colossus the world’s first programmable computer….we’re geeking out already!"

"600 mobile developers and designers, 36 hours of mobile development"

Your goals

Show Brick to people interested in Mobile/Web development

Audience type and size

Org says 600 people-I didn't count. My talk was quite full, surprising since it was at the same time than one on Nodecopters and a tour of the historical museum. Overall I found the age of participants higher than in other Web conferences I've been to, but there was also a sizeable amount of kids joining the event on Saturday for the Code Club session, and a delegation of students from the "Hack Soc" at the Uni of Nottingham. So, a mixture. Mostly around 30ish.

Mozilla's participation at this event

Sponsored the Marquee tent: http://overtheair.org/blog/2013/09/27/mozilla-is-marquee-tent-sponsor/ - this was the main tent where all the big announcements happened.

Sadly I didn't see "mozilla" in big letters as the other sponsors, only in some leaflets around. Probably because the sponsorship deal was finalised quite late-one day before the talk.

Audience reactions

Many good questions, some things we hadn't thought of for Brick, some questions confirmed we were in the good path already (i.e. people wondered about Brick working with other frameworks, which we are working on document already)

Evening event/party

There was a hackathon during the whole event. Plus lots of drinks. There wasn't any specific activity other than playing some geeky things on the big screen at the tent. People were hacking away or just socialising.

Materials (eg. slides, presentations, audio clips, photos etc…)

Other notable presentations

Some of the younger participants in the hackathon presented their projects which consisted in a mixture of hardware and software, and said "it was no big deal"-it's amazing how well youngsters can make use of abstractions without even thinking about it.

Stephanie Grieger talk was quite interesting, speaking about the state of the art of mobile computing outside of the Western market and how integrated chipsets enable phone makers to innovate on a small scale. It was inspiring to see that the actual market is not just the Western market, and that the Asia market is WAY bigger than we think it is. I wonder how Firefox OS can fit in that vision.

Other open projects attending (if applicable)

There were people from University College London presenting the results of their Congo based crowd-sourced observations research project, in the frame of the "hacking for science" talk. They had developed a custom version of Android that enabled people who couldn't read or write to observe the environment and report back their observations to "the cloud". It seemed like an impressive achievement, specially if we also consider that 3G reception is rare and expensive, and electricity is also very hard to access. They were looking for contributions but didn't have a github repo or anything yet (maybe this is something else we could help them with!)

Organization rating (1: bad - 10: excellent)

9.5 considering the amount of effort they had to put on in order to get access to such a historical venue, wi-fi it up, and that it was all free. Not 10 because talks weren't recorded, the projector was quite old at 640x480 and there wasn't a person ensuring things happened on time, although they pretty much happened anyway through word of mouth and helping each other out. As a speaker I would have appreciated to know I could expect to find someone on my room "directing" the whole thing. It made me slightly uneasy :-)

Overall feel of the event

At some points during the presentation I thought maybe there are a bit too many hackathons going on in London and sometimes the ideas aren't that fresh or interesting, but then there were some nice ideas. Nothing totally mindblowing, though.


This event helped us…

Getting the word out of Mozilla Brick in the London dev community (hopefully the European one!) I also spoke to some people on the "moz process" i.e. file bugs otherwise we don't know what's wrong, and helped some hack on some web apps for fun, making them compatible with more than just chrome. A little bit of culture change, I guess.

Was it worth it? Should we participate again?

Probably, but letting them know earlier so we can have a more obvious presence! We should also have coordinated more with the guys from Telefonica that were judging HTML5 apps and giving phones away.

Connections

Some people contacted me through Twitter, so I'm following up there. They've got some questions on Brick but I answered them already.