Discovering Drupal's Community
I've never attended a DrupalCon before... and I have to say, it's fantastic to talk to people and learn about what's going on with this open source CMS. But the best things I've learned have come from side conversations and small unofficial sessions called Birds of a Feather or BoFs. I've been able to meet other wonderful journalists and media specialists who really care about the industry. I've also learned about a fantastic initiative the Knight Foundation set up called the Knight Drupal Initiative (KDI). It was a very quickly set up initiative where the Knight Foundation recognized the flexibility and potential of Drupal... and how a bit of funding could help this open source tool improve dramatically. One of the initiative's first grants went to Addison Berry who wants to build up to date handbooks so more people can understand how to use Drupal. I'm really excited about Berry's plans. I attended her "Documentation is Hot" presentation yesterday and I think she's doing an incredible thing for Drupal and the community people who know Drupal is powerful but we can't figure it out on our own (like me!).
I had a chance to attend the KDI BoF (like how I used all of the acronyms in one sentence?) yesterday where participants and organizers talked about what could happen in the future. They're unsure if they'll hold another KDI grant process again. I really hope they do. During this conference I've had a chance to talk and scheme with a wonderful Twitter user named Margaret Rosas (@mrosas). She's out in Santa Cruz doing wonderful work for public media (with the help of a Knight Foundation News Challenge Grant). We understand each other and I love her cause. She explains how she hopes to align an Army of Geeks on the MediaShift Idea Lab. I think the KDI could help her extend this vision to locations beyond Santa Cruz. I would love to help build a Drupal community in Columbia, MO. There really isn't one... And my time here has helped me learn about the Drupal Groups site and how many journalists are building community there. I didn't even know! So I am now a member of Drupal Groups. You can find me here and watch as I join more groups and find new ways to learn about Drupal. I will never stop learning so I can continue to teach the best I can. I really to do want to arm Mizzou's future journalists with an arsenal that will allow them to be good journalists who can do good work AND eat under a roof.
By the way - my attempt at holding a Mizzou J-School alumni meetup was a success last night. There were six former students who came from a range of graduation years between May of 2003 (right before I started working at the journalism school) all the way through December 2008. It was wonderful catching up, drinking a couple of beers and giving alumni members a chance to meet each other. Hooray last minute gatherings set up over Twitter and Facebook!