It is festival of a different sort. The Hackathon DevFest is meant for the techies who swear by the internet and like to explore the cyberspace for its full potential. In September of this year when GDG (Google Developers Group), New Delhi, showed interest to be a part of the fest it offered three brand new Google Nexus 7 tabs for the winners. Quite swiftly, Google roped in David McLaughlin (Global Programs Lead, Developer Relations, Google) to enthuse the developer junkies of northern India and coined the program as "Breakfast with David McLaughlin." Since then, the GDG has been a platform that technology enthusiasts and techies look up to for showcasing the talent.
The latest DevFest organised by GDG was held in Kolkata which saw some eager talents emerge. Technology enthusiasts from outside West Bengal made full use of the global attention too.
If GDG Delhi owes it to Raveesh Bhalla, or GDG Hyderabad to Uttam Tripathi for its popularity, the GDG Kolkata chapter has techies like Suvankar Bose and Koushik Pal to spearhead its presence in Kolkata. Both the professionals have been among those that contribute to the formation of several open source sharing groups. Says Pal, "Being involved with the group, we felt the need to bring the concept to Kolkata and we must say the response was overwhelming."
Indeed, the recent two day fest focusing on web application development, mobile application development, and knowledge sharing received an overwhelming response from across the country. "The vision and mission of GDG is to bring likeminded people together under one umbrella. It means people who are truly passionate about Google's developer technology and interested in communicating, collaborating and developing useful applications like Android, App Engine and Google Chrome platforms to product APIs," says Bose.
The GDG group is currently present in one hundred countries and has 430 chapters, both active and incubating. It has been organised in several Indian cities and aims at organising tech discussions, seminars and Hackathons to encourage networking and establishing a rich and active developer community throughout the globe.
"At GDG DevFest, we talk about Google products and how techies can use them to share, collaborate, create and do what they love the most," says Pal. In India there are many enthusiastic students who do not get enough exposure and encouragement. The GDG chapters aims at bridging that gap.
Participant Jaipradeesh had travelled all the way from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu to attend GDG, Kolkata. Soumya Deb is another developer who came from Pune. Moreover, brand matters and Google is more than known in this field. Expressing similar sentiments, Priyanka Banerjee, an active member of GDG says, "It's great to be involved with GDG where all open source contributors are free to join. Google gives you the freedom to work." Her responsibility as a GDG member is to spread awareness of internet and technology.
Obviously, participants at the GDG DevFest are passionate about the concept as their shared experiences proved. For Pratik Kumar, a first year IT student of Jadavpur University, it has been a long struggle to reach the stage where he finds himself now. He dreams of a future where he would be able to contribute to the country's development with the help of technological innovations.
Kumar has had roving life so far as his academic career is concerned due to frequent transfers of his father. When in Jamshedpur as a senior student, a truck accident saw his left leg extensively damaged. After months of medical treatment, he was finally able to walk again. Meanwhile he cleared his exams with good results from the hospital bed. Pratik is a good swimmer and plays cricket too. "I know someday I will be successful because of the mental toughness and determination I have." In Jadavpur University, Pratik was introduced to the concept of GDG by Jitesh Choudhary, Google Students Ambassador (GSA), Jadavpur. After attending the GDG, Pratik found that "The range of technologies which were covered was unmatchable. From Google apps to Google Chrome, to web apps to mobile apps to android system and many more, everything was covered in that event. And all the technical misconceptions which all of us usually have and live with it were cleared by professionals." The people who came to attend the fest were quite innovative and creative too, he says, helping to discuss ideas, debating on issues and problems and learning new skills.
Organiser Pal himself is a beneficiary. "I hail from small town Bolpur. When I was a child, not many people could understand my passion towards computers. But that didn't deter me and today I am a GDG manager," he says with satisfaction.
The GDG organisers say they get thousands of applications every year for attending the DevFest but candidates are selected as per their willingness to learn and contribute to the process. Be it playing with Google Maps to browsing through Firefox OS Simulator the audience take up the challenges of solving the puzzles. Clearly the festival of the cyber-swimmers is here to stay and thrive.
--IBNS (Posted on 14-12-2013)