The silent communities of China and Pakistan found a voice at DrupalCon Munich, undeniably a game changer for the Drupal Communities in the neighbouring countries. Ironically the audio recording failed and what you can view from the session is a silent presentation! murphy’s law! let me assure those who were not there that neither Liang, myself nor the audience were silent; we had a healthy and focused discussion that you folks unfortunately can not be privy to unless someone builds a time machine! and for those with the patience to sit through a 52 minute long silent movie here you go!
Our AV nightmare would have continued and we would not have even had a silent presentation if not for Jons Slemmer from JoyGroup.nl as the AV equipment did not want to talk to my Mac and Liang’s Mac did not have Keynote! Jons got repaid by Karma as it was unanimously decided by team ikonami that the winner of our Android tab give away had to be Jons! (and team Joy Group got kicks from an Android tab called Pacpad! wonder if Kamra would get taken to court for a billion dollars!?)
Anyhow a quick recap of how the session went, in a word ‘awesome!’, and in many: way better than we expected! firstly there was the turn out, we never expected to pack the room but were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who showed up, validating our belief that the wider community is curious as to why two large swathes of the Drupal community are under represented on Drupal.org.
And the mix! it wasn’t an Asian affair! Drupal Watchdog was represented by Peta Hoyes, Drupal community in the UK by Ben Wilding, Marcus Oaten, Richard Moger, Belgian Drupal rockstar Dominique De Cooman, Kawai Man, and a many more… well not exactly hundreds but we had a good turnout of about 18 odd people! from Hong Kong, Korea, Netherlands, China, Belgium, UK, Pakistan, USA and Germany to list a few… and apologies if you attended, were vocal and are not listed here (and Kawai Man… dood I could not find you online… you like some Drupalistas in the East are off the grid!).
The discussion that followed the presentation was beneficial for those of us working to develop and link communities, it was great to hear of the audiences perspective on reasons for the Chinese and Pakistani Drupal communities aloofness (lost for a better word to describe the state of affairs!) and the possible avenues for the active members of the Drupal communities in Pakistan and China to follow to change the status quo.
There are the usual suspects; Drupal Association and Acquia; how can the local communities engage with the DA and Acquia and draw them to support, sponsor and engage with the local community… to this end the Chinese community has taken advantage and received four scholarships to various DrupalCons, I am pretty certain no one from the Pakistani Drupal community would have even applied! (I would love to hear from anyone who has but been unsuccessful). For Acquia to put boots on the ground the potential of the local markets needs to be sold, particularly the Pakistani market, very few people outside of Pakistan know that the local web economy is worth US $1.2 billion and this is with none of the popular payment gateways operating in Pakistan, imagine the potential when the digital economy in Pakistan is truly liberated! it would be an ecommerce tsunami!
Ben Wilding (organiser of Drupal Pub Meet in London) shared his experiences of developing a lively community and with much needed words of encouragement for the Pakistani contingent in attendance… keep at it even if no one turns up! (which happened in Pakistan with the very first Drupal meetup)! The other really useful tip was to concentrate on one city until a critical mass is reached, I know from the on-the ground Drupalistas in Islamabad who have been thinned out trying to reach every major urban area where Drupal shops exist…. and have had little to show for their efforts.
Other tips for the communities were the more obvious one that local organisers and farangi mentors have been too blinkered to see… Drupalcampkit.org! http://drupalcampkit.org/node/4 what an awesome resource! never knew it existed!
Clearly the state of the far flung communities bothers us all in the wider and more engaged communities, I got an email from one of the attendees; Alex Van Der Klij the week after DrupalCon with a another brilliant idea on getting the Pakistani Drupal community active… tap into the expats abroad to contribute to the community… and learn form the Wallaby and Kiwi experiences of community building!… thanks for that Alex.
The most essential lesson for me was to engage with my own local Drupal community in London more often, learn from their experiences and get help for my mission of trying to get a remote and silent community thousands of miles away active! tsk tsk! and a lesson learned… I attended my first Drupal Pub meetup and it was awesome! in fact since DrupalCon I have made it to more meetups than I did in the first half of the year!
I am not particularly keen on book reviews unless it is an unputdownable read! most things penned by Mario Puzo or the White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and there are quite a few others… but am breaking the norm to comment on Michael Peacock’s Drupal 7Social Networking. As Aaqib pointed out Mr Peacock has not quite done his QA! on page 172 there is an example of a block and has written a piece of PHP code in the block description, no doubt the functionality is good but it is bad practice as it slows down the site.
Sort it out Mr Peacock and preach best practise!
Verdict, good reference guide thats about it but dont treat it like gospel if you know what I mean!
So DrupalCon Munich came to an end, the show is over in Europe for another year! and most of us are back in our respective timezones or on route!
… verdict? DrupalCon Munich was awesome it had its highs, highs and a low!
Being a Londoner I want to say DrupalCon London was better because yes it is a freaking pissing contest between our Awesome city and the other contenders to the throne! but I will say this… DrupalCon Munich was much better than DrupalCon Croydon.
Ikonami had a small contingent from our Drupal force attending including senior developers, our themeing lead and our Drupal Service line account manager. In a nut shell the team found the event very well organized (better than DC Croydon), the spread of sessions targeting beginners to experienced Drupalistas went down a storm with the developers a couple of whom were disappointed by DC Croydon’s not so advanced session mix… The community tracks went down a storm for our Islamabad team is struggling to bring local Drupalistas out of the woods and into the global community’s fold. Sessions covering new developments and structural changes in Drupal 8 were obviously the pick of the bunch by all our attendees! but Asghar hasn’t really stopped talking about them until this morning!
Khurram’s picks were sessions on The New Entity and Property API and Multi Region failover scenarios in the Cloud but the lows were Think like a hacker: Secure Drupal Code; it was declared as very basic but then Khurram’s expectations were too high for this session I think! ikonami has a tiny team of certified ethical hackers so our in-house security sessions are legendary and our guys seldom come across conference sessions that can beat Ali’s knowledge on breaking into digital residences!
Then the other let down for the developers was Dealing with Buggy Modules or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Issue Queue; it too was declared very basic and our guys already knew about the issues covered in the session.
The absolute high for the team was the core code sprints on Friday… it was the first opportunity they had to sit and work with the wider community and the team clocked two bugs too! (proud of the ikonami contingent!).
Personally for me the highs were plenty! meeting Dries has to be up there on top… then the mix of people at DC Munich was fabulous! in Croydon we had a few neighbours from the mainland but Munich it seemed brought them all out of the woods! then there was a partnership ikonami signed up with a leading mainland Drupal house that I can not mention right now but will do so in a post once we have dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s….
The CXO event was kick-ass, the format was great (it was straight out of how sessions are held at Cranfield SOM!) the mix of participants and the issues highlighted and discussed were pertinent to the community and the commercial challenges we all face. It was more than just a CXO networking event… it was a CXO brainstorming event and @BenFinklea‘s ideas and @gregster (Gregory)’s facilitation to keep things on track were spot on.
The only real low I had at DC Munich was learning that Liang and my session on Community building in China and Pakistan had no audio recorded! which given the fact that the AV guys had spent 15 minutes trying to fix it (and assure us it was working) was a real bummer and the only polite word for the alleged AV maestro that Liang and I agreed on was ‘incompetent’… and a Londoner too! tsk tsk…. it is ironic that the session where we spent more time talking to the audience (as opposed to talking at the audience) about why the Chinese and Pakistani Drupal communities are so silent had no audio recorded! divine intervention or sod’s law! can’t win them all I guess! kneehoo I will be posting my notes from the session on the blog as soon as I have had some time to catch up with everything else I had to put on hold for the week in Munich….
Lastly there is always time to mention Drupal Association‘s team and my favorite DrupalMachen in the Drupalverse Megan Sanicki who put up an awesome show and were there every time we needed something, were lost in the Conferencesphere or just needed some assistance, thank you DA and thank you Megan.
And yes there will be a dedicated post on how AWESOME Munich was, the locals (had been told how cold they are before we landed) and their hospitality, the Muay Thai grandmaster (Col. Amnat Pooksrisuk) I found and trained with in Munich at Kru Stefan Feldmeier’s Gym, the strangers my team and I had pleasant run ins with and an awesome stranger who gave me a lift into the city when I found myself out in the middle of somewhere lost in Munich with a dead mobile phone, no map and little sense of direction.. thank you.
At the heart of the success of Drupal is its community as Dries Buytaert puts it “It’s really the Drupal community and not so much the software that makes the Drupal project what it is. So fostering the Drupal community is actually more important than just managing the code base.”.
This though is easier said than done, specially in environments where proprietary technologies still sit on top of the proverbial food chain. And it is this challenge of engaging communities in the East that Kubair and Liang will be discussing in their session Drupal Community in China & Pakistan next month at DrupalCon Munich.
Kubair Shirazee from Ikonami shall share his experiences of setting up a Drupal software house in Islamabad to augment Ikonami’s tech teams in London, the challenges of linking with the community locally, the market potential and explore the challenges faced by the Drupal community and the growing strength of Drupal in the East despite the challenges.
This year we take our participation in DrupalCons to a new level, not only are we sponsoring but we are delighted to be given the opportunity to be the voice of a silent but sizable Drupal community! and as ever proud to be supporting the Drupal community both on and offline.
Ikonami is proud to be a sponsor at DrupalCon Munich, this is our second Drupal conference where we are exhibiting and we are arriving with four of our senior developers and our Theming practice lead.
You will find our stand outside Sydney room (session 3 room). As ever we will have tons of our legendary SWAG to give away and tons of knowledge and learning to share.
We look forward to meeting you in Munich next month.