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June 26, 2008

Liveblogging Facebook Girl Geek Developer Garage

I am here in San Francisco using my new favorite toy (Sprint USB Broadband card - Compass 597) to liveblog one of my favorite social networking events: Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners. The theme of this dinner is the Facebook Developer Garage with the following panelists:
» Ruchi Sanghvi (Principal Product Manager, Facebook)
» Julie Zhuo (Product Designer, Platform, Facebook)
» Alina Libova (Founder and Developer, Easter Eggs)
» Holly Liu (User Experience and Co-Founder, Watercooler)
» Annie Chang (Co-Founder, LOLapps)
Sandra Liu Huang (Program Manager, Facebook)
Cyan Banister (Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Zivity)

This event celebrates and promotes women in technology.  Please excuse any incorrect statements or spelling errors, my son decided to wake us up at 3am with alittle stomach problem so it was not a good night for sleep!

It is almost 7pm and we about to start...

Angie Chang, organizer of the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner is giving an intro. She thanked Facebook for sponsoring this event.

Cyan Banister (Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Zivity) introduced herself and shared that she was once voted the most sexiest Geek. She talked about the contest - it was a time based test... Started out as 100,000 then she won. Celebrated both female and male geeks. She has a blog: Sexiest Geek Alive (they are accepting nominations now.... ) . 50% or more are online buyers, but there is not good representation the engineers - so glad to see everyone.

Ami Vora from the Facebook Platform group talked about advantages and disadvantages of being a girl geek. No lines for bathroom - one of the advantages. But hard to find mentors. She was excited to bring women from around the social media space together. Seeing this network gave her hope to see a strong female network.

Julie - Is an Engineer at Facebook... She talked about the history and technical challenges and what is coming up over the horizon.
-Why did they build this platform? Value of social contest for applications. Make it possible for users to have a social network everywhere. Then they integrated third party application content and distribution.  One of the biggest distribution channels is the newsfeed. There are also minifeeds, requests and invitations channels. 
About the platform
...They created FBML, extension of HTML.  FBML is first parced by Facebook and translated into HTML to be rendered by browser.  FTML helps enforce privacy and can be abstract.
Re-design plans? They are working on a profile re-design to put the focus more on the user and highlight what is relevant. There will be tabs on the new profile. Users will be able to install application tabs.

Sandra- 20% of the people do 80% of the networking. She suggested we all introduce ourselves to the person sitting next to us... I had to great opportunity to talk with Ami Vora.

Panelists introduced themselves: Ruchi Sanghvi (Principal Product Manager, Facebook),Julie Zhuo (Product Designer, Platform, Facebook), Alina Libova (Founder and Developer, Easter Eggs), Holly Liu (User Experience and Co-Founder, Watercooler). Annie Chang (Co-Founder, LOLapps)


How is it working in early stage of products?...Holly- We put emphasis on listening to users and growing. Holly said the social media space is dynamic - fast paced change, it is important to respond to user feedback. Annie said it is exciting, busy - when working on Facebook we get instant feedback. When Ruchi started at Facebook they had a small crew, but over time they matured and understood the value we offered. We added unique visions, it has been truly dynamic and an amazing experience.

How about moving it to the next stage? Julie said they were surprised how the user base grew so quickly, and commented that they constantly look at is what is best for the  Facebook users. Holly said Iterate as soon as you get user feedback and make things easy and accessible for users... Alina started adding ad revenue then used the Facebook developer forum to advertise that she wanted to sell her facebook app.

Where do you go to find ideas for product development and find people to mentor you? Alina gets the most ideas during final week. She uses teachers and a wiki page for mentorship. Julie gets ideas for applications from their user community, suggested if you talk about what you are interested in and passion about you will end up meeting the right people. Ruchi also said to iterate and develop quickly. Holly said simple applications that allow people to share information is important. Alina suggested to find a niche market, most developers are men and there are many women that use social networking apps so having a women's perspective while developing apps is an advantage. Annie said Facebook app distribution is totally different, you just need to understand how people interact with their friends. It will grow if you design it right and people want to share it with their friends.

What facebook apps do you like?

Julie - Bowling buddies and word games (like scramble). Alina likes the friends circle. Holly likes the biggest brain.

Questions from the audience....

Here comes the food....

SUMMARY: Seeing and meeting these women made me proud to be a girl geek!


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I love facebook! Lol. I am, I admit a sucker for Fluffbook. Hahaha. I love taking care of my pets but I am not into racing them. :D

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