Drupal Association Elections
I'm running for election as an "At Large" board member of the Drupal Association.
"Meet the candidates" forums were scheduled so members of the Drupal community could ask questions of the nominees. We were all asked to do a brief introduction, then respond to questions either by voice, or by IRC, and then were all asked to make a final statement.
Rather than adding to the already lengthy wiki summary of the candidate meetings, I'm posting the edited version of my responses here instead. See the full IRC transcript, and others summaries here:
My formal candidate statement is here:
Further information on the election, as well as details on voter eligibility, and how to vote is here:
I'm in Melbourne, Australia. Run my own small business, called Creative Contingencies. Been using Drupal for about 5 years. I'm really passionate about open source and the fact it enables people to do things they would not otherwise be able to do.
In terms of Drupal and the Drupal Association, I'd like to be a voice for the 'small voices'. Small Drupal shops, amateurs, hobbyists, non-profits, students and tinkerers. Sometimes we get caught up in the commercial opportunities, and forget that Drupal has been an enabler for many people that aren't using it to make a living.
It's important the Drupal Association develops a more global perspective, and that we work together to invite and embrace more people into the Drupal community.
I just helped run Drupal Downunder in Melbourne a couple of weeks back, it was a great success, and like many other camps around the world was driven by the local community to fulfil a need that can't be filled by DrupalCon, because DrupalCon happens on the other side of the world. The DA has already expressed an interest in seeing DrupalCon South America and DrupalCon Asia Pacific - which is fantastic, but I have concerns.
Response to Questions
Regarding emerging markets in asia. Wants to know if any of the candidates have an idea on how to handle outreach to those markets to solve the talent shortage?
Emerging markets are really important for Drupal's growth. There's a pretty critical Drupal skills shortage. Everyone is hitting that. China and India are both huge countries with lots of developers - finding a way to encourage them to participate in the community could help with the global skills shortage. But we also have to acknowledge the economic reality that participating in an open source project as a volunteer doesn't pay the bills. We need to connect with other open source communities in the region, and encourage and support local groups to create and grow their own events, meetups, mentoring, and community learning programs.
The DA can help with some of that, but we're also going to run into some issues. We're going to have address the tension between commercial interests in training and certification with the broad based need for more people to learn Drupal.
tsvenson: What do you see as the biggest obstacles for new Drupal users, especially non coders with small or no budgets, often leading to them quickly going elsewhere? And what will you do to change that?
We need to tackle the issues identified by the documentation team. They are the front line for new users. Our online help and support is where new users and new developers go to learn. Infrastructure bottle necks are a real issue holding us back. That is definitely something the DA should address. Even better, it's on the roadmap for 2012 - which is great. I'd support and champion that element of the 2012 roadmap.
We also need to find how to support documentation translations, and better multi-lingual support, on drupal.org
webchick: For those who want to promote international diversity, explain how a position on the DA helps you do that more effectively.
Actually, this is the core of my platform. International diversity has been identified as a key goal for the DA. Yet the makeup of the current board is largely homogenous. With one exception, all 8 of the current board members lives in North America. One is in Europe.
No doubt these people have an international perspective, but it's one thing to think about, it's another thing to live it. The heated discussion about the need to travel was educational to say the least.
As an example, the 2nd candidates meeting was scheduled at 4am Melb/Sydney time. We weren't expected to be there, but I wondered how failing to show up would hurt our candidacy? I decided to bite the bullet, get up early to be on the call.
If elected, I'll be noisy, opinionated and irritating. I'll reach out to communities in Oceania, Asia and Africa, and encourage them to engage in the community, participate on groups.drupal.org, share their experiences of running local camps, and national associations - as I've started to try and do so with a BoF at London DrupalCon, and International Drupal Associations on G.D.O
Crell: Currently Drupal's face in the world is a mix of face-less Drupal.org and Acquia. Acquia is the face of Drupal, rightly or wrongly, in many eyes, moreso with the new Office of the CTO. Drupal of course is far far more than Acquia. What if anything do you feel the DA can or should do to counter-balance that, or is that even an appropriate role for the DA?
I think the DA needs to look at the apache and gnome foundations. Acquia is incredibly important and powerful - but as far as the DA concerned - Acquia should just be one of many drupal companies. The DA needs to focus on the community and the infrastructure the community needs to make drupal better.
tsvenson: We just had a live usability test that showed we have still very much to do. How do you propose we can put more efforts into making Drupal, including contib projects, more user friendly and intuitive?
Continue to improve the infrastrucuture... and invest in the tools we use... eg D.O Conduct further public live streamed usability sessions just like that. Very useful. But the next step is spreading knowledge of what to do with that information amongst the developer community, and ignite their passion to focus on usability challenges.
Slurpee: How many candidates have been to Drupal events outside of their own continent? And can you speak more than 1 language fluently?
I have been to drupalcon sanfrancisco and london - I can't speak another language fluently... but I speak a little bit of Dutch.
Crell: Several of you listed things yo want to do or accomplish. The DA, however, has shifted from a staff board to a policy board, so board members are not directly doing anything, but managing, strategizing, coordinating, etc. Those of you who want to "do", isn't the board the wrong place for what you're describing?
This is exactly why I want to get involved and be a voice for under represented parts of the Drupal community because all too often the policy gets driven without those things being considered.
If you're not loud and you don't put your voice in when the policies are being formed, it's much harder to move in that direction afterwards.
rfay: In 30 seconds or less, what are the roles of the DA and what are not the roles?
The DA can amplify the work of local communities and also support and give credibility to them!
The DA has no involvement in driving the Drupal project itself. It is primarily and administrative entity to manage the affairs of a series of large international conferences. Potentially taking over some of the legal intellectual property issues around the trademark which belongs to Dries Buytaert, and employing staff to help ensure DrupalCons happen, and the hardware and Drupal infrastructure keeps working.
Crell: Several candidates said they want to better represent or be a voice for "small shops" and independents. In what way does the DA currently not adequately serve small shops, and what would a better service for small players mean in practice? Be as specific as possible.
I don't know that the DA is failing small shops, I just don't see those voices represented in the current makeup of the board. Most are from North America and large organisations so it's not necessarily that there's a huge gap, but there is potentially a huge gap. I have a sense that this is a problem more than specific criticisms.
But we're not just talking about small Drupal shops. We're also talking about people using Drupal who don't have a commercial interest in it. People who are hobbyists, non-profits staffed by volunteers, clubs and amateurs, and community groups. Tinkerers and students. Many of our contributors have come from this kind of background, it's a valuable proving ground for future Drupal talent.
tsvenson: When do you think the first Asian DrupalCon should be held? Also, should that mean 3 cons/year or should they alternate with 2/year?
I was concerned about the idea of "drupalcon asia pacific" somehow being "the rest of the world" except Africa. The AsiaPacific region contains 3 of the 5 most populous nations on earth: India, China and Indonesia. They are all incredibly culturally and linguistically diverse. Trying to create a single event for both continents (ASIA and OCEANIA) is going to be an enormous challenge.
DrupalCon Mumbai, DrupalCon Shanghai, DrupalCon Bali, DrupalCon Manila, DrupalCon Wellington might all happen one day. When? Yes, well that's a very good question. This year? unlikely. Next year? Maybe. And then 2 years after that.
A DrupalCon in our region is going to happen pretty infrequently, I'm more interested in local communities building their own capacity to serve their needs with local events, than sit around waiting for the blessing of the Drupal Association.
Perhaps the US Drupal community should adopt the North American DrupalCon as it's National event? And the Drupal Association should shift it's focus toward developing one International UberDrupalCongress which is on a different continent each year, more like the olympics, and focus all of its attention on that. I don't know. I just think we should question all our assumptions.
jredding: In 30 seconds or less, what would you say is the most important skillset, expertise, or experience that a board member should bring to the Association.
One of the most important things is to bring a sense of collaboration and wilingness to work with the rest of the board on important topics. To try to reach consensus, and ensure we all bring our slightly different perspectives to the table when we're making decisions. People often think consensus is all happy families but you only get there considering many differnt perspectives and figuring out what you can agree on, rather than focussing on what you can't agree on.
carsonblack: Q: What are some (or one) way that DA can help the small user groups throughout the world better serve their local markets?
Perhaps put together an info pack? How to build and grow your local community. How to engage with local businesses, authorities and educational institutions. Often what's holding people back, is just knowing where to begin.
When the DA board member is out n the community how would that member represent themselvs in the community? Would they have a title of board member and use that?
I don't know. I think it's an interesting question and would be keen to explore ideas on how best to do this.
Crell: The DA is officially banned from "directing the development of Drupal". What does that mean to you? Are there ways the DA could "support" development without "directing" development? What would you want to do in that regard? Again, be specific as possible.
I like the idea of funding sprints... not directing what happens at them, but helping them happen. Putting effort into the tools the project relies on is borderline... but it's something that needs doing....
tsvenson: Question: Should the DA take a more proactive role about the d.o infrastructure and its improvement needs. Especially in regards to for example content management tools for doumentation and giving better cred/visibility to all those that puts in amazing work that is not project/code related? If so how and what is needed?
Yes! We expend effort and resources on ensuring DrupalCon happens, and that the servers keep running. We should be expending effort on the real heart of the community, drupal.org and groups.drupal.org.
We urgently need to address bottle necks frustrating key community initiatives, such as documentation, support, prairie, some of these have lost momentum because of infrastructure bottlenecks, and the fact we can no longer really innovate on drupal.org.
I'd like to finish off by saying Drupal is awesome. The community is what makes that true.
I am desperate to give back to this project and this community in the best way I can. I'm not a coder, designer, documenter, but I am good at being on committees, organising events. Following through. I will put in all my energy and efforts to be a useful productive, engaged member of the board.
It's the first time the DA has run broad based elections like this. It is the beginning of a new chapter in terms of how the organisation is structured. There's a a lot of work to do in the future, consolidating what's been done already and continuing to become a more open and transparent organisation. I'd love to be part of seeing that happen and working for the community by being on the board.
I'd like to add, my fellow nominees are all awesome. Even if not elected, the DA should find a way to co-opt them onto other committees. They've all indicated a willingness to serve - let's harness their commitment, competence and energy.