JandBeyond 2012, was a conference that optimised the ethos of the project behind it: Open Source Matters.
I love giving my Emperor’s New Clothes presentation, and nothing gives me a bigger thrill than hearing people laugh and listen at all the right times; knowing that they’re being challenged and coming to their own conclusion. It’s incredibly rewarding. It also has the potential to go horribly wrong (which it did the last time I gave the talk).
Into the wild
With that in mind, I flew in with severe trepidation that I’d made the wrong decision about #jab12.
I knew virtually nothing about Joomla’s latest major version (2.5), my coding skills on the whole have been left to rot for years, it was in Germany (and possibly german), and I felt as if I had let down many of the attendees with the cancellation of Open Source Scotland (regardless of it not being my fault).
Even more than that, I pinned my flag to the mast years ago as a “WordPress guy” (even though I’ve delivered more site off WordPress than on it in the last 2 years AND ran for the Drupal Association) – what reception could I expect given the “friendly rivalry” that exists between Open Source CMSs?
Life Jim, but not as we know it.
J and Beyond is not that kind of conference.
In fact, it’s not really a conference. It’s an event, a gathering, it’s a … convergence!
Although (arguably) the highlight of the Joomla Calendar it’s not a huge event, only about 300 people. That number is an order of magnitude smaller than some of the “local” events such as JoomlaDays (JoomlaDay Italy gets upward of 1000 people). Initially that felt very weird to me, its like DrupalCon or WCSF getting less people than their local events, which doesn’t happen at all.
Yet all the big players where here, with many of them flying great distances; and the likes of eBay and Microsoft sponsoring and attending.
Instead the people that attend are the real deal, the devotees, the true believers, the folks on the front-line making real changes… and yes, some of them can code. But really, it was the pioneers, who’ve come to Germany to take the message back to their local community. It was democracy and open source at it’s best.
I didn’t even get as far as registering (FYI: I still haven’t got my badge or program or T-shirt) before being grabbed by Brian Teeman and introduced to a few good folks I’d had email conversations with, notably Victor Drover and ex-President of Open Source Matters Ryan Ozimek.
It was truly humbling to hear them talk about Open Source Scotland, the line-up, the plan, what Open Source means to them and how they would do all in their power to help me if I wanted to try again.
After the 3rd different person had something similar, and no-one talked about code at me, it twigged… they didn’t want to talk about code all the time!!
No code? Does not compute…
For every conversation about specific code issues, I heard (or was involved in) at least 3 about: Processes, governance, best practices, ideology, methodology, pragmatism versus evangelism, usability, USERS, 3rd Sector, delivery, transparency, licensing, economics and beer.
Heck, I even had 1 more conversation about Scottish Independence than I did about code, and I was in Germany !
I’m sure there was more Joomla-code orientated conversations when I wasn’t there, but each one I was involved in was easily relatable to, and my input was valued as an outsider. People were eager (or faked it) to hear what other projects do, what works and what doesn’t – not just on Open Source, but on Enterprise wide systems too.
It was enlightening and exhilarating!
I don’t know if Joomla is going to reclaim the market-share it had 3 years ago; or even if that is the plan. What I do know is that with people like this involved in Open Source projects we’re all in a better position than before.
I can’t wait to go back next year, hopefully armed with a bit more knowledge than before, so that I can fully appreciate all the work that @Frank put in to adding HTML5 to the core, that @Vince had to do to move Jomres to Bootstrap.
Until next time…
To everyone I met, and especially to everyone who came to see me talk can I just say in the words of The King (Elvis, not Henrik Larsson)…
UH-HUH… THANK YOU VERY MUCH
Side by Side.