Binary Redneck

OSCMS Summit and Drupalcon -- Day 2

I started the morning with a round of Drupal lightning talks – eleven topics in sixty minutes. dww even convinced me that if I ever actually have free time, I should pitch in a bit on project module.

Dries’ “State of Drupal” talk was excellent, though the audience as a whole didn’t seem to react well to the bit about eliminating the webmaster, developer, designer, etc. The whispers and whines in the crowd implied that some people found those statements threatening. I’m mentioning this because I didn’t feel that way, and I’d like my fellow geeks to know why: web technology is an ever-evolving industry. I’ve been doing system administration since the early 1990’s, working with open source software since 1995, and playing with web technologies on and off since the 1990’s as well. NOTHING is like it used to be, and I’m still here. So are a lot of other people. There was a time when the end-all and be-all of being a webmaster was smashing text and some basic HTML into static pages, then updating them by hand any time anyone wanted to make a change. Then came scripting and databases – suddenly you could code your way out of the repetition, and even make some editing and interaction (such as web forums) available to users. The hard-core coders moved on to writing scripts, the less nuts-and-bolts folks formed new niches as site moderators and documenters, and users could now contribute directly to content. Those less interested in adapting moved on.

This is what Dries was talking about when me mentioned “eliminating the webmaster”. On many sites, users began to take a leading role in entering content. Now we’ve moved from every site being scripted in isolation, to CMSes where a community of developers and themers can provide the tools for even non-coders to create web sites with all sorts of features. The internet is still evolving, and will be for the foreseeable future. I’m not afraid of the market for my talents drying up tomorrow, nor should anyone else be, as long as they are willing to learn and step into the next niche. In the mean time, keep innovating! If you doubt how much work there still is to be done, take a look at the Drupal issue queue and forums sometime.

Next came a talk on the Date API and Calendar modules. Karen’s presentation was absolutely wonderful, and I learned more than one useful tidbit about managing time, scheduling, and iCal feeds in Drupal. Steven Witten’s talk on jQuery convinced me both that JavaScript is every bit as hideously disgusting as I thought it was, and that jQuery makes it tolerable to add some JS tricks to things I’m working on (for those users who even enable JS) without feeling dirtied by the evils of JS code. Last, but certainly not least, I sat in the audience of the Live from OSCMS Summit Drupal podcast/netcast. There’s no need for a long description here, you can listen for yourself.

After the close of the summit, some of the Lullabot crew, a few other Drupal geeks, and I went out for Thai food. Still fewer of us ended up in add1sun’s hotel room, where much Drupal hacking goodness and a fair bit of socializing took place. We were joined by Leslie from Google and a couple of Joomla folks. I finally headed back to my hotel around 3am, my head buzzing with thoughts of projects to come, some curiosity about the aggregator module and what might be involved in cleaning it up, along with a healthy dose of laptop-related determination. I was still buzzing on the plane ride home. Those of you who have had the good fortune to fly off to a brain-bendingly interesting conference and there meet at least a dozen people you’ve worked with for ages but never met face to face, only to become even more excited about the project that brought you together know exactly how I feel. The rest of you couldn’t possibly imagine, so I hope you get to try it some time.