How Facebook whizzes made “Look Back” videopalooza happen

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Credit: Facebook

We’ve written a bit about the infrastructure challenges Facebook faced in providing more than 700 million Look Back videos to its users. But if you want more of the nitty gritty, take a look at the video below of Goranka Bjedov’s talk at the recent Facebook data@scale event. Hosted near Facebook’s newish Cambridge facility, this was the first such event to occur outside California.

Bjedov is a [company]Facebook[/company] capacity and performance engineer, but she could find a career in stand-up comedy. For the company’s tenth anniversary on February 4, 2014, the company wanted to offer users (potentially 1.3 billion in all!) a video of their life highlights on the site. Oh, and it had 3 weeks to get it done.

facebook lookback

A sneak peek from Bjedov’s talk:  “I have the best job at Facebook. Mostly I just yell at people and tell them they can’t have the servers and to go away.”

Obviously, that didn’t happen in this case because the applications side of the house had proposed Look Back to the higher-ups and, as they informed Bjedov, “Mark really liked the idea” — Mark being, of course, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The rest is history, as you probably noticed tons of Look Back videos filling your Facebook feed early this year.

The video provides some glimpses into the design challenges facing infrastructure, and also some pro tips about getting 40 engineers in a room to agree about anything. (Hint: you need shoo most of them out of the room.)

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