Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

[Cross-posting from Local Guides Connect forum as it’s hard to see stuff in there and it’s a bit more permanent here. Original post https://www.localguidesconnect.com/t5/General-Discussion/Local-Guides-Connect-2018-Come-for-the-map-stay-for-the-people/m-p/1124999#M207918]

Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

Oh my, it’s been an exciting week at Local Guides Connect 2018. It’s my second time there, but it’s still super amazing, super exhilarating and really insightful.

Many other attendees have shared numerous joyful photos of the sharing and feedback sessions, vigorous Q&A, deep thoughtful discussions with individual Googlers, outdoor activities to get to know one another, and the incredible number of self organized chillout, partying and supper sessions.

As we look back at all the photos, we are stunned by how much happened within the blink of an eye as the few days sped by, and always wish we could have spoken to more people, attended more events, and taken more selfies.

All the repeat attendees like me try hard to share the same fun experience with the newcomers, organize some extra events to share more of the city, help others to prepare for Connect, and make it more fun for everyone. I hope we have managed to do this. It is part of our gratitude for being able to be here again. It is a family of friends that are a part of our lives now, including literally many families and new babies that have come to say hi.

Many people have also shared on their gratitude and appreciation towards the Googlers – the Local Guides team for organizing Connect and the community in general, and also the Maps product teams for flying out to talk to us (IRL!), share information with us, and taking our feedback. Here’s another +1 from me.

Google Maps and Local Guides are special.

Some things I observed during this year’s Connect made me think deeply about why Google Maps, and Local Guides, are so special.

Firstly, one thing I often hear from the Googlers is how fun the Local Guides Connect event and people are, when in comparison with some other Google events or communities! We are super boisterous and welcoming in all the events, overwhelming in energy, making friends so easily across language and culture differences, sharing stories, language, food, festivals, and spending every single waking minute hanging out with as many people as possible. All the Googlers are also drawn into it as if we are long time friends – you can see photos of many of them at our outside parties.

Secondly, during our small breakout sessions, I realized that fellow Local Guides really care very deeply about our contributions – the reviews, the star ratings, the photos, etc. We want these contributions to be truthful, authentic, and helpful to others. We do this out of an enjoyment in sharing our knowledge with others, and helping make the global maps a more useful tool for everyone. We use and contribute to Google Maps because we realize that we trust the data on it, and we want it to be as accurate as possible. There is an resolute and endearing sense of righteousness and integrity in the community that has never been surfaced or expressed so clearly before. If the Googlers were as surprised as me by this reaction, they sure hid it well.

One world one map

I think these wonderful traits were born out of what we set out to do – helping Google to make the information on maps accessible and useful. We all reach into our Google Map app, seeing the same map as what each other is seeing, the same big database no matter where we are in the world. With a flick of the finger we can be on the other side of the planet, with a search we can find any cafe in the world and see photos of the place. No boundaries or segregation. We cover restaurants, utilities, buildings, shops, markets, bus terminals, religious buildings, hiking trails, gas stations and everything under the sun, crossing all domains from daily living to food, essentials, transport, healthcare.

In Maps and Local Guides, we add our bit of knowledge in, and daily users do not know who has fixed the road or opening hours. Simply it is a better map for everyone and not for a nicer personal profile for us. This culture of sharing, and the interconnectedness of sharing the same map, is why we connect so well with each other. We have always been in this same map, just never face to face before.

It’s the people

After all the (countless) hours in our own phone app, we come to San Francisco and we meet all the other people who has almost unbelievably done the same as us – be equally obsessed about fixing data points and share so many of the same feelings about Maps as we did. They know all the parts of the app, share the frustrations on the same limitations, feel annoyed at getting their edits rejected(!), spend equally long taking photos of places (finally we don’t feel like a crazy person), fix every single place marker, and choose restaurants based on whether it has more than 4.8 stars average. Through this trial of blood, sweat and tears, we still persist.

After two days of making friends, we also suddenly realize that this humble and friendly person beside us has a mind-blowing number of edits, or photo uploads, or video uploads etc. You feel comforted that you’re not crazy for uploading the menu photo of restaurants, and also encouraged that level 10 is possible! None of us worry whether you have level 7, 8, 9 or 10, but my gosh “how did you do that”, and you have a feeling that all these map edits in all countries are done by real life people like you and me. That review describing a delicious milkshake or overpriced burger is written by someone who cared about their experience, and this person is real and standing in front of you.

These new lifelong friends share a strong passion for finding new places to eat, visiting new hiking trails, and travelling to new places. That’s why we are such a fun and immersive group of people, that’s why Local Guides is different from other communities. Connect is fun because of the impressive culture and people, kudos to Google for arranging this. I always tell first time attendees: try to extend your travel and spend more days with the other folks, the golden gate bridge will be still standing next year, but these 150 people will be present together in the same city on the same days for only this one time in your life.

A toast to all you crazy ones out there.

Come for the map, stay for the people. See you all again in streetview* and round the corner.

Local Guides at the top of the world. feat Jens, Pedi and Julien

(*with all the new 360 cameras, I am sure there will be a massive boost in 360 photos, hopefully with not too many of our blurred out hands and faces in it.)

#localguides #letsguide #localguidesconnect #comeforthemapstayforthepeople #allthecrazyones

Exhilarating Local Guides Connect 2018

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