Dear DrupalCon SF organizers, Dear San Francisco

The organizers of DrupalCon San Francisco are doing an awesome job. Their work appears effortless and they look like they're having a good time. When the organizers make their work appear effortless, you know they know what they're doing. It must be that the team who are putting this together have a whole lot of experience in event organization.

Let's use a metaphor. At DrupalCon SF, I'm the user, the DrupalCon SF event is the application and the event organizers are the developers. My objectives for selecting this application are: learn, share and network. My experience with the application so far has been outstanding - and I have not started using it yet! Everything to this point has been preparation for me to use the application.

Some of my preparative tasks were

  • registering for the conference and creating a conference profile for myself
  • submitting a proposal for a session
  • purchasing my ticket for the conference
  • reviewing sessions and the people presenting them and then voting for sessions I liked most
  • selecting sessions I would like to attend
  • communicating with the community attending the conference
  • volunteering to assist at the conference for specific tasks and time slots
  • learning information about the conference and venue
  • receiving information related to volunteering

All these tasks were completed using Drupal, customized for DrupalCon events. Thousands of people completed similar tasks like me. The work-flow for each task was pleasurable. I got things done without having to think about it. I have an easily accessible conference schedule, clear information related to my volunteer activities, recommendations for great eating places for all tastes - and suggestions on after conference social events.

Generally users want to achieve their objectives and not bother too much about the work and magic that went into making the application such a pleasure. I'm having such an awesome time with this application and let me repeat, I have not started using it yet.

Dear DrupalCon SF organizers, thank you so much for the awesome work. If I were new to Drupal, my interaction with the DrupalCon SF and the organizers up to this stage would have me sold on Drupal. I'll report back on how the actual application stood up - and I would like to report back on some of the behind the scenes magic that made the application such a pleasure.

Dear San Francisco, WOW! SF is a wonder. Since I got here on Thursday night I've made friends with a few homeless people, a seal and a street violin virtuoso. I've cycled the city in search of wild parrots, been offered medical marijuana, seen many of the vistas (Alcatraz only from a distance mind you), listened to the blues and an oriental street performance - and had a major endurance workout cycling across that red bridge to an island type town called Sausalito (and back which was an olympic endurance experience) and to the top of Telegraph hill in search of parrots. Still no parrots, but I'm loving the search.

Conversation

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Santhan, thanks for all the great feedback on the conference website and experience. I'd love to hear your review now that you've attended the conference. What were your favorite parts of your time here in San Francisco and at the conference? Do you have any suggestions of what could be improved?

It was great getting to spend time with you, Chacha, Kevin, Gregory, Bec, and the others on the Hayes Valley Farm tour.

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Zoey, forgive my slow response. I wanted to write a whole blog post in reply. Instead I'll comment here.

What I enjoyed most about the conference (and Sanfrancisco) was the people I met.

Suggestions for future conferences

- Drupal.org usernames on conference badges. Good icebreaker. People want to know.
- DrupalCons are growing in size. I once observed that the doors to a popular session were closed, even though there were easily over 50 seats available. People were being turned away. I discovered the seats only after insisting on entering. Volunteers could be better trained on seating arrangements.
- More alternative and fun ways for the community to inter-act. The birds of a feather sessions are a good idea and I think we can go further. Group activities and excursions would be one way. Maybe a special volunteer team setup to innovate in this area.
- More acknowledgment of contributors to the Drupal.org project and contributed modules. How about a projected slide-show on one of the walls, of contrib module/theme author pics? I'd love to see the faces of whose doing what and say thank you to them
- Make the conference website more social. Where was the real-time Twitter feed? Encourage connections on the website by allowing users to post tags for things like: where I'm staying, what I plan to do, what food I eat, interests - and then having a check-box option called something like "Connect with me". This data could be used to match people with similar interests and allow them to connect.
- Use technology to include the global community. Many folk are unable to attend. Surely we can find a way to include them. How about a projected screen on one of the walls showing tweets from the Drupal.org users from around the world? And streaming web-casts of sessions?
- I would love to see more end-users of Drupal participate in sessions, like the one by Jenn Sramek and the group from EPA.net. That was a fantastic session. Do the D.O community know how far their work is reaching!
- Encourage buying a beer (organic) for your favorite module or theme developer.

I love your photos, your spirit, Drupal, Hayes Valley Farm, San Francisco, your writing and the metaphor you use in your second paragraph. It's easy to understand.

What do you mean that you've hardly started with Drupal yet?!!! I think you are Drupal's biggest fan. There can't be a better one.

Naturally, you would volunteer because that's who you are.

I can feel the joy and the music from your blog.

Thank you!