Erfahrungen DrupalCon Kopenhagen
DrupalCon, quo vadis? Reflections on Copenhagen
In Copenhagen, you could easily have formed the impression that the prices were rising but you were getting a worse service.
Its an opportunity to think about things. What, basically, makes a good Con? What can we learn from Copenhagen, and take into account in future decisions about the venue?
What is a DrupalCon about?
A DrupalCon is an Art Conference, which Drupal-Professionals and other interested parties can come to, and attend talks on special Drupal topics and exchange ideas.
A DrupalCon is also the Community Event, where Drupalers can physically meet people they would otherwise only chat to by Email or Skype.
A DrupalCon is therefore automatically a good idea, because many Drupalers attend and interesting sessions are guaranteed. But what features make a really good Con? How can you evaluate a Con? What makes a Con superior, in terms of its participants and the daily program of events?
Well, in my opinion, I think the key features are the halls, the available technology, the organizers, the catering and the events that are scheduled.
The Bella Center
The Venue was the "Bella Center", a Conference Center situated about 5 km south-east of the city center.
The joy on seeing it had its own subway station put us on the right track: the route that was peppered with Drupal Icon-stickers laid out like a trail of breadcrumbs, and led around a large Hotel construction site proved to be the right one, and took us right up to the entrance.
The Halls were all equipped with modern facilities. There was one huge auditorium - large enough to take 1.300 participants - with 3 Maxi-Screens for the Opening, Keynote and Closing ceremonies, which could be divided into three large halls and 3 additional smaller ones. In the smaller halls, the participants sometimes had to stand. They weren't really designed to cope with well-attended sessions.
The WLAN was very robust, and rarely overloaded. This was very impressive, considering there were 1.200 participants, who were all on line simultaneously with their Smartphones AND Notebooks! The sound quality was also very good. If any of the Speakers couldn't be understood, it was entirely the fault of their dialect. It took me some time at the beginning, to understand what "Mardschils" were! There were three extremely painful (!) and loud Microphone-feedbacks during the Drupal Teaching Session. After that woke us all up, we were able to follow the Session very well. That was the only problem I experienced. Help was on hand immediately to change the microphones.
The catering on the first day consisted of packed lunches, of the type usually only served at 8,000 meters. What little food these contained was wrapped in a huge amount of plastic. This generated a great deal of waste, and was completely unnecessary. I couldn't understand this at all.
There were no lunch packs at all for some of the participants on the first day. Presumably the Caterers were let down by the Organizers, in regard to being told exactly how many portions were needed. On the following days, there was a boxed sandwich with a Mars or Snickers bar on Wednesday, and hotdogs on Thursday.
Vegetarians had really bad menus.
Coffee and tea were only available twice a day. There were cold water dispensers in the building itself. No other types of drinks were available.
At best, the catering could only be described as a complete disaster. "#cateringsucks" grew into one of the most commonly used Hash tags of the entire event.
As part of the evening program, the organizers had reserved the Australian Bar in the heart of Copenhagen, and re-named it the "FooBar". For the participants, there was a free beer called "Awesomesauce", and wine. The beer was heavily hyped in advance. From a personal perspective, I questioned the fact there weren't any non-alcoholic beverages on offer. The image of beer-swilling Core-Developers is one I personally find neither appropriate or beneficial.
'Cool' was the appearance of the "Kitten Killers", a Band made up of staff from NodeOne, a Swedish Drupal Service Provider.
'Uncool' was the seat allocation at tables in the FooBar. I understand that this wasn't only at our table. Because it was too loud to talk, we were only allocated the FooBar on the first evening, and on other days, went elsewhere to eat.
Because I heard nothing from the Organizers, I'd say it all worked very well. Hearty thanks to the entire Team, whose efforts ensured all the procedures ran so smoothly.
I found relegating the critical Article "Why we should fear Wordpress" to Chapter 3 of the Drupal Blog remarkable. Jennifer Lea Lampton had a Session titled "WordPress is better than Drupal: Developers Take Note." which I sadly, didn't attend. The Twitter comments suggested it had hit the raw nerve of Drupal - in terms of Usability, its worse than WordPress - which is a very sensitive point.
When considered in the light of the exuberant self-congratulation expressed at the closing session, the Community might do well to indulge in a little more self-criticism. Drupal has, without doubt, become one of the most powerful OpenSource systems around. The development of Drupal over the past seven years, and the prospects of Drupal7 are undoubtedly impressive. But we have to ensure it stays that way, and that its Usability is enhanced to the same extent.
The Launch of WordPress 3, and the implementation of Content Management led to a lot of chx Twittering that WordPress is now at the same state as Drupal was in 2005. There were three Twitterers who thought that in terms of its operability, Drupal was in the same state as Wordpress was in 2008 .
"Come for the software and stay for the community."
This was the new slogan from Drupal Marketing. The slogan can best be understood in the sense of encouraging a "Back To Our Roots" return to the most important aspect of Drupal: Drupal is a winner because of its strong sense of Community.
During the Con, proposals were Twittered about holding a future DrupalCon on a Campsite during the Convention. In size, a Con with participants running into four digits could hardly be considered a feasible option, but the people who suggested it really do mean it. It frames the desires of, and expresses the sense of connection that exists within the Community. Today, about 150 Developers sat on the Coding-Sprint, and worked together on Drupal7. Coffee and tea were, yet again, not available. The Organizers should remember that represents 150 highly committed idealists who have each waived their ability to make money working on their own projects in favor of the Community. I fear that appreciation by "the Upper Set" for the developers at its base is being lost.
The Copenhagen Con struck me as being a little cocky. This arrogance is something we simply cannot afford, if we want to grow with Drupal and want to inspire other people to do the same.