I often find myself describing the digital domain to people who don't live and breathe it like I do. It's an intangible thing, and many of the concepts are coded in jargon. It doesn't help that every technology tool set uses it's own specific language, sometimes using the same words for very different things, or different words for the same things. What's a page? A widget? A layout? A template? A module, plugin or extension? It varies. The answer "depends".
Analogies can be a helpful communication tool to get the message across, and get everyone thinking in parallel.
One of my favourites, is to compare a web development project, to a landscape design project.
One of the first things you need to know, is who is this landscape for and what sort of landscape is it? The design required for a public park is very different to one suitable for the back courtyard of an inner city terrace house.
You also need to know what the maintenance resources will be. Will this be watered and tended daily? What about budget? Can we afford established plants, or should we plan to watch the garden grow from seeds or seedlings?
The key point of comparison, is that a garden, whether big or small, is a living thing. It will change, it will grow. It may die from neglect. It may become an un-manageable jungle without regular pruning and maintenance.
What analogies do you use to talk about digital design and development?
Image: XIIIfromTOKYO - Plan of the gardens of Versailles - Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA 3.0
I've given a "Constructive Conflict Resolution" talk twice now. First at DrupalCon Amsterdam, and again at DrupalCon Los Angeles. It's something I've been thinking about since joining the Drupal community working group a couple of years ago. I'm giving the talk again at OSCON in a couple of weeks. But this time, it will be different. Very different. Here's why.
After seeing tweets about Gina Likins keynote at ApacheCon earlier this year I reached out to her to ask if she'd be willing to collaborate with me about Conflict Resolution in open source, and ended up inviting her to co-present with me at OSCON. We've been working together over the past couple of weeks. It's been a joy, and a learning experience! I'm really excited about where the talk is heading now. If you're going to be at OSCON, please come along. If you're interested, please follow our tweets tagged #osconCCR.
Jen Krieger from Opensource.com interviewed Gina and I about our talk - here's the article: Teaching open source communities about conflict resolution
In the meantime, do you have stories of conflict in Open Source Communities to share?
- How were they resolved?
- Were they intractable?
- Do the wounds still fester?
- Was positive change an end result?
- Do you have resources for dealing with conflict?
I wrote this as a comment in response to Dries' post about the Acquia certification program - I thought I'd share it here too. I've commented there before.
I've also been conflicted about certifications. I still am. And this is because I fully appreciate the pros and cons. The more I've followed the issue, the more conflicted I've become about it.
My current stand, is this. Certifications are a necessary evil. Let me say a little on why that is.
I know many in the Drupal community are not in favour of certification, mostly because it can't possibly adequately validate their experience.
It also feels like an insult to be expected to submit to external assessment after years of service contributing to the code-base, and to the broader landscape of documentation, training, and professional service delivery.
Those in the know, know how to evaluate a fellow Drupalist. We know what to look for, and more importantly where to look. We know how to decode the secret signs. We can mutter the right incantations. We can ask people smart questions that uncover their deeper knowledge, and reveal their relevant experience.
That's our massive head start. Or privilege.
Drupal is now a mature platform for web and digital communications. The new challenge that comes with that maturity, is that non-Drupalists are using Drupal. And non specialists are tasked with ensuring sites are built by competent people. These people don't have time to learn what we know. The best way we can help them, is to support some form of certification.
But there's a flip side. We've all laughed at the learning curve cartoon about Drupal. Because it's true. It is hard. And many people don't know where to start. Whilst a certification isn't going to solve this completely, it will help to solve it, because it begins to codify the knowledge many of us take for granted.
Once that knowledge is codified, it can be studied. Formally in classes, or informally through self-directed exploration and discovery.
It's a starting point.
I empathise with the nay-sayers. I really do. I feel it too. But on balance, I think we have to do this. But even more, I hope we can embrace it with more enthusiasm.
I really wish the Drupal Association had the resources to run and champion the certification system, but the truth is, as Dries outlines above, it's a very time-consuming and expensive proposition to do this work.
So, Acquia - you have my deep, albeit somewhat reluctant, gratitude!
Thanks Dries - great post.
(Drupal Association board member)
I did another video the other day. This time I've got a D7 and D8 install open side by side, and compare the process of adding an article.
I'm speaking at DrupalCon Los Angeles. 5pm, Tuesday 12 May in the 518 - Trellon room.
I first spoke about Constructive Conflict Resolution in Amsterdam at DrupalCon last year. I posted the slides, recording and speakers notes from that talk to the PreviousNext blog.
I'm reprising that talk in Los Angeles because someone else is now unable to make it, and I was asked if I could fill in. When I originally proposed the talk for LA I had planned to rework the slide and narrative - but unfortunately won't have much time to do that before the conference. However this is a conversation starter, and we'll have an opportunity in the room to discuss how we might embrace conflict as a force for good, as a force for progress. How to harness it, how to minimise it's potential for harm.
I hope to see you there!
Constructive Conflict Resolution will be in the core conversations track at DrupalCon Los Angeles.