There is more to the web than Drupal

Now, obviously, I'm going to Do it With Drupal, because I work for Lullabot. I also think that it will be a great event for people to learn about many, many aspects of Drupal all in one place and I look forward to hanging out with folks and sharing the Drupal love. But, I have to admit my real personal excitement about this - all the non-Drupal presentations. Seriously, I hope my work schedule there doesn't have me miss too many presentations that I really want to make. I mean, c'mon when else am I going to get to listen to the likes of Tara Hunt, Heather Champ and Chris Messina? These are not "Drupal names." These are "Web names" and as much as I love Drupal, it ain't the entirety of the Web. There is a lot more going on than the application that happens to make HTML show up in people's browsers.

Now, maybe my excitement is a bit of naiveté. I'm relatively new to the world of tech and web and the only conferences I had attended until earlier this year were Drupalcons. Drupalcons are awesome (and I'll definitely be at Drupalcon DC) but they can also have an echo chamber effect if that is all you consume. Not that that is bad, just that if all you eat are carrots, eventually your skin turns orange. Er, well, anyway, let's skip the bad analogies. Back in the spring of 2008 I went to my first non-Drupal conference, An Event Apart, which is a web conference put on by the awesome folks at A List Apart; ya know, like Jeffrey Zeldman and Eric Meyer. Not only did I have a great time and get exposed to a bunch of really cool stuff, I was also immersed in a land where people had "heard of" Drupal or "knew about" it, mostly with favorable impressions, but that really wasn't their focus; Drupal was "just another tool" to almost everyone there. That experience was refreshing. I spend most of my waking life in the Drupal zone. Spending time with the likes of Jeff Veen and Brian Oberkirch (also speaking at DiWD) was a bonus, but the real thrill was snapping out of the Drupal world, back into the larger web world. I got some much needed perspective on what people feel is important and that most of the world isn't mired in hook_form_alters or figuring out Views. This was reinforced at OSCON in July where the larger issues of Open Source and being surrounded by all the frickin' tools out there was overwhelming and exhilarating. I mean, technology is damned cool and getting an outside perspective on my day-to-day mindset was very much needed and inspiring.

There is a lot more going on in the web than just slapping up a website. How are people thinking about the web, interacting with it, leveraging the people in it? I mean tools are cool and all but isn't the web about having people dangling at the end of that browser somewhere? Building a website is really just a front door for communicating with the larger world of the web community. I know that this is something I lose touch with. A lot. I think keeping Drupal in mind as a powerful tool to effect change and make things happen is great, but seeing where it fits in the bigger picture and how to make that more effective is the real goal that almost anyone making a website really is shooting for.

So, anyway, that's what really has me jazzed about Do it With Drupal. Drupal stuff: awesome. Web rock stars: shit to the yeah yeah. Tools and knowing how to use them to effect the world: Wham! Rub shoulders with cool peeps and open your mind a bit - that's what I'm talking about.

Comments

agreed. it's just so easy to get sucked into the Drupal black hole! :)

it is nice to come up for air every once in a while and check out what's going on elsewhere. the beauty (and sometimes curse) of the web is that there's SO much going on, so much great progress being made, that it's hard to keep up.

i think you have to pick your poison to some degree and stick with it. the trick is finding the balance between your "core" expertise and outside perspective.

Mmm... good thoughts. I'm also looking forward to kicking back and enjoying these sessions. I got my start in web development learning osCommerce, puzzling through a QuickBooks application, and then diving head first into Drupal/Ubercart. I haven't come up for air since. I'm almost completely ignorant of the "outside world", which isn't too bad since it can pay to specialize. I suppose I better get on that plane ticket if I hope to actually join in the learning. : )

Yeah. Great read. Even if you stick to tech stuff, there is so much: Recently I bought a PHP Magazine and was amazed about all the cool stuff people do.

And talking about the web: I got friends who even don't like to E-Mail or write comments in Forums. It is always refreshing to see what they are interested in IF they go into the web. And yeah, it is the people, the content. Seeing the web as a mere means of communication. And you either are interested what the one on the other end sais or not.

Very good idea to go to general web conferences, will pick that up. There is lots and lots of events, one does not have to travel very far or pay very much.