Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Exhausted - Day 1 of DrupalCon Chicago

So I’m totally toasted. Today was the first full day of DrupalCon Chicago, beginning with Dries Buytaert’s (the creator of Drupal) keynote, explaining his vision, doing a recap of what went wrong and what went right in the creation of Drupal 7 which went into full production in January (he said that Drupal 8 development begins today and set out some goals for this project in the address also). Dries reminded those who’ve been on this journey for any part of the last decade what they should be proud of the work that they've done and he welcomed those of us who are newer to the journey, and - throughout his address - he reaffirmed our choice to be involved with a project that’s not just a technological platform, but a community!

Approximately 3,000 attendees are here for DrupalCon Chicago. There are other, even more impressive numbers that were given in the keynote highlighting Drupal’s exponentially expanding influence on the web today. It looks like over a million sites - almost 2% of the entire web are now Drupal-based. The largest enterprises and governments down to the most humble not-for-profit or individual websites are built on Drupal, a testament to its flexibility and scalability. And not only has Drupal grown so much, but that growth appears to be ever-accelerating. In fact, that may be the one danger, per Dries, that the Drupal community has to grapple with most in the coming years - the growth of the community.

http://goingtodrupalcon.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/drupal-opening-keynote/. Also, a video of Dries’ keynote appears at http://chicago2011.drupal.org/live

It’s Dries' message of empowerment that so appeals to me. I want to similarly empower my colleagues. I’m trying to migrate us to a Drupal system that will allow them - brilliant as they are in their areas of subject matter expertise - to really shine. I’m building a stage, a backdrop, a sound system, and lighting. It should be a showcase for them, not a distraction. But at the same time, I know that my process hasn’t been as open and communicative as it needs to be. I need to be sitting down with my colleagues weekly to discuss the project, get input, and make sure that what I’m building is what will work for them and the people that they will be building the content for - I want to provide them with scaffolding that supports the construction of a better user experience.

In today’s library BOF (Birds of a Feather) session, I was impressed with the quality and breadth of some of the development happening in the library world. In many cases, professional developers are being hired and in some cases libraries seem to actually be fleshing out digital experience departments (including graphic designers, developers, information architects, and multimedia producers). We're so far beyond the concept of a "webmaster" in this day and age that teams are definitely a must for libraries that want to have true "digital branches". (Sadly, even at MPOW, which has more advantages and staff than the average small public library in our state, they have only one person whose time is dedicated to web work,... and I never started out as a web developer, either, so it's not like MPOW can claim to have even 1 true "developer".)

But hearing about the work happening at these other libraries gives me hope.
All libraries should be at least as far along as the people in that DrupalCon Library BOF were. Seriously. We need to identify, and - more importantly - to FIX the problems that we have with our library systems. Stop dividing up the systems - online, to the user, all of the aspects of the librarys’ digital presence are seen as “the library’s website”. That’s how we have to treat them.

If we need further help to achieve this - in the form of consultants, Drupal firms, what-have-you, we have to try and get pony up the funds to make it happen.

Just a thought from a very tired person in Chicago, whose feels extraordinarily grateful to be in on this whole Drupal thing!

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