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Monday, February 24, 2014

Level Up: Developers change the world through design and team work

The IBM Pulse conference kicked off today in Las Vegas. There is a lot of talk about how cloud, mobile, social and big data is changing things. The change is drastically changing both the front-end and backend of what it means to be a business in the era of Generation Z. While Millennials are affecting the work force in interesting ways as Pulse Emcee David Pogue points out, he warns we also have to prepare for generation Z. The digital natives of generation Z are going to grow up with a different point of view on interactions with family, friends, co-workers and brands. There is something else going on at Pulse this week. Traditionally, Pulse has been a conference about IT management. Systems, services, networks, security, storage. This year, the conference is bringing these things together in context of Cloud computing. APIs, XaaS, Analytics, BYOD. Pulse is now the Premier Cloud Conference. The overarching mantra is “Make Bold Moves.” I’ve noticed some really bold moves. There is a lot of talk about “playing with this stuff.” The gamification of IT is here. The gaming metaphor is being applied to IT in a real and practical way. I don’t think it’s a fad. Many of the announcements today focused on Software as a Service. Consider IBM’s new IT Service Management as a Service. Try it. Learn it. Use it. Engage it. Buy it with your credit card. This is enabled by Infrastructure as a Service of course, and built upon Platforms… yes, also as a service. All of this plays into the culture shift in enterprises and open source projects with development practices of continuous delivery and community approach to software development. DevOps is here to stay. SaaS is here to stay.

To extend the look at this shift even further, we can look no further than the change of format in this event itself. IBM is sparking conversations with lightning talks throughout the conference. We have embraced the short form. This is fantastic. People love it. They eat it up. Format alone does not signify the biggest shift. Enter the Hakkasan Club in Las Vegas and you’ll discover the conversation is going deeper. Developers talking to developers about design, and you guessed it, software development.
dev@Pulse featured a chapter focused squarely on game design and user experience design. Developers today wear many hats. Coder, Tester, Tester, Designer, Project Manager. Jonathan Bryce shared his idea that developers are the new superpower. He recalled Marc Andreessen’s quote “software is eating the world” as the vast number of daily interactions a person now has with software in the average day. As the executive director of the OpenStack foundation, Jonathan has observed the shift of power to developers first hand. He asserts that the most successful companies recognize the role developers have in their success and failures. Developers are the new kingmakers – hat tip to Stephen O’Grady and James Governor at Redmonk. Jonathan also pointed to pop culture. Think of the role of problem-solving geeks in movies and TV. Open source represents the shift from institutions to individuals. The power of the individual lies in teamwork and the effort of individuals who span organizations. This works because of how connected we are through cloud, social and even mobile. This software is now powering the individual to accomplish collaborative work and create new software. Jonathan points to review.openstack.org as an example of the massive collaboration for continuous delivery of an open-cloud IaaS. This is enabling faster, better code and APIs for use by others. This is for Jonathan and the many developers that participate in OpenStack an innovation philosophy not a business model or marketing initiative.

There was a lot of talk about engineering blending with design and user feedback in Chapter one of dev@Pulse. This is core to gaming for mobile (iOS), social (Facebook) and cloud (MMO). Jenova Chen explained how his childhood differed so much from the life of his parents. He grew up building, using, hacking computers and making video games. His parents in Shanghai never experienced this world of digital entertainment. Jenova believes that he can change people’s lives through software and video games. It changed his life. It’s changed my life. Jenova explained that we have only scratched the surface of game experiences that explore the full spectrum of emotional responses like what we have seen in film and TV. He is pushing the boundaries of this software exploration as an engineer who spent 75% of R&D for the game Flower on perfecting the representation and interaction with blades of grass. Looking at the opposite of what is mainstream is what now drivesthatgamecompany to create an entertainment experience that focuses on creation instead of destruction. This reinvention paradigm is core to the hacker and developer. Interesting art is created by looking past overexposed mainstream games and examining what society needs now. Games provide an interactive system that can be optimized just like other types of software. Jenova’s game design focuses on resisting challenges that sow frustration and cursing. This forward thinking is so refreshing as a fellow gamer and parent.
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During the general session there was a brief look at the social game LP Recharge created by Kuuluu. Jendrik Posche gave a brutally honest look into the creation, testing, design and launch of this game in the form of a project post-mortem at dev@Pulse. Jendrik took us through the ups and downs experienced by the Kuuluu team. The game is social and has a social conscious game component. It was also an artist collaboration with the massively successful band Linkin Park. Sharing a common vision, teaming with good tech partners for server control and knowing your audience are top three take-aways. SoftLayer bare metal servers helped Kuuluu with managing geo-location, capacity and control. Facebook is a constantly changing platform that requires vigilance for developers but it will not dictate social interaction for gen Z.

I’m excited to see how games will incorporate real world elements and become more immersive. We have the chance to play with cutting edge tech at dev@Pulse this week. With the launch of Bluemix \today, you can hack a “Code Rally” AI game bot at dev@Pulse to model race track behavior in JSON with the programming language of your choice. The innovative design of Oculus Rift and Parrot drones shows cloud computing is changing the world and developers are clearly the world builders. How will new game experiences integrate with the computing devices and social networks of generation Z?

Follow my beat coverage all week at dev@Pulse and IBM Pulse. Let’s talk about gaming, software development, mobile and cloud. Find me on twitter at @theRab.

Game on developers,
Ryan Boyles

See all of the social media stories from dev@Pulse in this Storify post.

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