I spoke at the Maker Faire Bay Area 2012, my first time at the event despite having lived for years in the Bay Area. And what an event! Hard to describe given such a sprawling mass of energy, ideas, creativity and construction, it was kinda JavaOne/OpenWorld on Haight meets Burning Man meets Kickstarter meets Fry's meets Steampunk meets Make magazine come to life. If you made stuff, were creative, liked fun, kids, and generally being inspired in a non-business suit environment while being surrounded and inspired by technology of all sorts--and are prone to wearing kilts--then it’s for you.
What I Got Up To
I had two commitments. Firstly, as part of a panel facilitated by Oracle Technology Network (OTN) and Developer Programs Director Justin Kestelyn (@oracletechnet) called Gamification, Robotics, Simulators: How to Get Started Using Java. This was geared towards how young folk (well, anyone really), could get going in Java programming, and why they should do it. See the OTN Java Programming Center for Young Developers resources to get started.
I talked about how Java was an internationalized programming language, and used globally. Is said that you could go anywhere in the world and be gainfully employed, using your Java skills to make cool stuff for a whole range of devices; everything from mobile apps to websites to games. I explained gamification in plain language for the audience. This tied in well with the contributions from the education and outreach folks with references to Minecraft, Oracle Academy, Greenfoot, Alice, and so on.
My second input was a set of presentations at the Oracle Java zone. I told a story woven from model making about making applications, how personalization and customization took over from making stuff out of the box, and how Applications User Experience (UX) science and technology related to observing chimpanzees in the wild, the US space program, science fiction, comics, and to other interest points.
I explored the kit parts we used in making Oracle Fusion Applications (Application Developer Framework (ADF), based on Java Enterprise Edition and well-known blueprints and models) and how knowing a little more Java allowed you to go even further, limited only by your creativity tied to what users really wanted to do. Of course, our kit featured the science behind our own sets of instructions for makers: the Applications User Experience Design Patterns and Guidelines. I closed out with a superhero approach to users of apps, using the Avengers-style motif of remembering different users had different skills and jobs to do, so design appropriately.
Check out the Oracle Java Facebook page for a set of pictures of the Java zone activities.
Kids chilled out in front of me on bean bags and afterwards I was quizzed about ADF, Java, design patterns and usability, and asked for recommendations on books and other resources. All around me kids programmed 3D dragons and more in Alice (reminded me of Ireland's CoderDojo that my son attends) and leaped about in front of the Xbox360-controlled Greenfoot ball game.
What Does This Mean for User Experience in Oracle?
A number of business uses for game controllers, Oracle technology, and gesture-based interaction, and a wide range of web app technologies on different platforms and a range of non-traditional (in the enterprise apps sense) devices, came into my mind...
With tons of energy, ideation and creation going on at Maker Faires, Oracle Applications UX and Java will certainly be back and the inspiration behind such kind of anything goes, out of the box, creativity across all technologies can be harnessed and used to think about how we innovate internally in Oracle. Stay tuned.
Between deliveries I checked out the many exhibits, met old friends from my Oracle Applications Technology Group days, and chatted with other attendees. I was especially interested in Raspberry Pi (great combo with Java), 3D printers, the robots everywhere, the games, the remote control stuff and... just thinking about how we can use these in the UX space had me exhausted. Ideas are already in the minds of UX management.
Anyone up for knitting a UI Shell Pattern for ADF, and using Nintendo 3DS for expenses (oops, sorry Financials team and Misha!), or Raspberry Pi for SCM and DOO, ping me now.
Many thanks to Justin Kestelyn, Michelle Kovac (Director, Java Marketing and Operations), and the other Oracle people who made this all happen. Count me in for more of such events worldwide. Delighted to help. And next time, the Utilikilt might make an appearance.