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Google Summer of Code 2010 Mentor Summit Report

As requested by our beloved leader, here’s my report on this year’s Google Summer of Code 2010 Mentor Summit. The summit took place in Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California and was what they call an “unconference”. In the beginning of the unconference the attendees had 10 minutes to write down proposals for a session and put them on a huge white board. After that, every attendee voted for the sessions in which he was interested by putting a small sticker on the proposal. This way we could evaluate the interest on a specific topic and schedule the sessions to the differently sized rooms according to their interest. Neat trick!

The the rest of the summit was basically like a conference: we had 11 tracks filled with 5-6 sessions per day, which ran from 10:00 to 17:30. Google provided shuttle buses from our wonderful hotel to the googleplex in the morning and back to the hotel in the evening. The hotel was very nice, it was equipped a swimming pool and a hot tub (both outside), which was extensively used in the morning and of course during the night. Speaking of the night, Google sponsored Thai food in the first night and ye olde Pizza and Beer in the second. Some of the attendees brought their keyboard, guitar, bass and electric clarinet, and where playing some sweet ass Jazz and Pop (on special request…).

The sessions itself where not quite what I expected. I expected some proper talks about specific topics, but it was more like and open discussion round where everyone was invited to participate. For some topics it worked pretty well, for others not. It was still totally worth coming, since you meet a lot of like minded people and there is plenty stuff to talk about.

Of course I was very exited to see the googleplex. And the rumors are true: the googleplex seems to be a very nice place to work. They provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner for their employees. They have micro kitchens everywhere where you can grab free snacks and beverages. There are lot’s of toys lying around, they have bicycles everywhere on the campus which you can just grab to move from one building to another. There is a dinosaur on the yard, a spaceship over the stairwell and lots of other things (testing on the toilet, anyone?), and we have probably only seen a small fraction, since we were not allowed to leave the restricted areas for the unconference.

Despite the horrible yet lag (leaving Germany on Friday morning and leaving San Francisco on Sunday night), I’m glad I was able to attend to the summit and can only recommend aspiring mentors and students to participate to the next summer of code!