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Telling stories about how technology can improve lives

Google Developer Group Kathmandu organised its latest iteration of the GDG DevFest at Blue Star Events, Thapathali, on Saturday. The event comprised of talks by influential speakers and workshops targeted for developers to enhance their skills and to build their connections.

Previously known as Google Technology User Group, Google Developer Group (GDG) Kathmandu is a community of Google technology enthusiasts and users in the Valley. The group has been organising such educational meets since 2009. And today, there are more than 750 such communities in more than 120 countries, with three groups based in Nepal itself, in Kathmandu, Birgung, and Dang. The communities focus on exploring the use of Google products according to where they are based in.

“When we first started, we were just a group of individuals brainstorming our ideas and sharing feedback to improve our skills,” said Suresh Ghimire, founding member of Google Developers Group Kathmandu. “Now the community has grown strong, both by number and by the skills of the members.”

The event on Saturday entailed discussions on the necessity of Artificial Intelligence, the rapid growth of technology and the use of technology in the development of a country. The workshop sessions at the event also provided participants an opportunity to learn to use TensorFlow (an open source machine learning framework) and Google Cloud Platform (a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products). The fest also provided attendees a month-long free access to a few online learning platforms.

This year’s event also saw the presence of representatives from Google itself. Melissa Powel, global programme manager and products design expert at Google, was one of the keynote speakers at the event. She held an interactive session providing an insight into GDG Meetups, Google Design Sprint Methodology, and studies from her work experience. Speaking at the event, she said she was blown away by the number of activities happening here in Nepal in the developer community.

Along with being a beneficial fest for attendees, the event is also a useful platform for Google, says Powel. “One of the top benefits of the programme is not that we’re able to provide content to more people but that more people can tell us what works and what doesn’t,” said Powel, as the feedback Google gets helps them work on product improvement, resulting in them providing better services to people.

A team of video creators from Google was also present at the event, where they were documenting the proceedings of the event with the assistance of a couple of Nepali videographers. “What we do with our videos is tell stories about how technology can improve the lives of so many people,” said Brian Grady, senior video producer at Google. “The DevFest documentary can help influence other communities to form GDGs at places where there is an absence of such a community. These videos can be examples to any tech enthusiast.”

Owing to such events, people in Nepal are getting an opportunity to hone their skills and acquire more knowledge in the field of technology. And taking into account the number of hands raised and questions being asked at the event, it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that there is a rapid growth in interest and participation in the field of technology in the country.



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