Utah Social Media Developers Garage a Success!

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Utah had it’s very first Social Media Garage meeting as a non-Facebook specific group yesterday, December 11. Phil Burns and I started the Utah Facebook Developers Garage, and at our October meeting, the group agreed to making our name much more generic so we could support technologies such as Open Social. I think the meeting yesterday went better than I could have expected.

Jeff Barr, evangelist for Amazon Web Services, was our featured guest speaker for the night. He spoke on Amazon ECS (E-Commerce Service), S3 (Simple Storage Service), EC2 (Electric Compute Cloud), and SQS (Simple Queue Service). I think it was very educational for all that were there – many there were not aware of what Amazon was doing.

Towards the end he featured Social Media technologies that are currently using AWS. He talked about Paul Allen (the younger)‘s We’re Related (a company I consulted for as they were planning the software) and their tremendous success in dealing with 1.8 million users in just 2 months, utilizing AWS, S3 and EC2 to help them with the process. He featured a couple other examples, including iLike, that were also using their services to scale on Facebook.

My favorite feature of the night was Jeff Barr’s demo of how he uses Second Life to help him evangelize, and present AWS to a worldwide audience. He gave one of the coolest demos I’ve seen on how he’s using the second life rendering engine to model the AWS systems in 3D. He clicks on a little Amazon logo in his model, and in animated 3D in Facebook it all runs, demonstrating the process flow in real time right there in Second Life! He says he plans to tie in a real system to this model, feeding real data to display the data in a real environment. He also showed how he has weekly meetings with AWS developers in right in Second Life, and went on to show a presentation he had made in Second Life to a users group half-way around the world!

Jeff Barr, after last night, convinced me that Second Life is here to stay – it’s an invaluable tool that, if used right can be a great method of communication, presentation, and meeting with a worldwide audience. He convinced me that Second Life is even more useful for businesses than it is for the average non-business user using the service! I strongly suggest if you are a business owner, looking at a Second Life strategy to communicate better with customers, lead-gen with customers, and build new business.

After Jeff’s talk, we went over a few more samples of sites using AWS. The Bungee Labs folk demoed some of their services using the service. One guy (trying to remember his name – sorry, I promise I’ll get it!) showed off his site that counts down to 2008 in binary (http://11111011000.com/ is 2008 in binary)! I talked about my Holy Rolls applications (We’re Catholic and We’re Baptist) and how for an application with 4-5 thousand pageviews a day, AWS handles it fine, and I always have the ability to scale if I need to.

When the event was over we all put our names into a Santa Clause hat and drew for 2 Google Water Bottles given to us by Google Code, and some cool WordPress T-shirts provided by Joseph Scott, from Automattic. We then finished the evening with a great competition (and great singing voices!) of Rock Band on the PS3. It was quite a Social!

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