Submitted by Jean E. Gazis on Thu, 2007-07-26 10:44.
I attended my first Drupal Camp a couple of weekends ago. It was my first experience of the "Bar Camp" concept, and I was very impressed. The way it works is that a mixed group of interested people gets together, from "newbies" to experienced developers, and everyone throws out some ideas of what they'd like to talk about, what they're capable of teaching, and it's all scheduled using a grid of sticky notes on the wall. I believe there was some behind the scenes preparation, but it was all handled very informally - and very effectively. One room ended up as the beginner to intermediate track of workshops, another was dedicated to drop-in, one-on-one or small group work, others to more advanced topics.
The quality of the actual teaching was a bit variable, since the volunteer instructors had varying backgrounds and experience, but the knowledge sharing was fantastic! Besides learning some interesting things about running a conference (or "un-conference" as they called it), I learned a ton about actually using Drupal, too. I'm psyched to put what I learned to use in my own and clients' sites.
One fun session was the "lightning talks" where anyone could give a 3-minute presentation of something they're working on, to promote or ask for help on a project. There are some very cool and interesting things happening, from using Drupal as a front-end to a proprietary system, to creating ID badges from user profiles, to creating a video-based foodie community, to major corporate site development. In all, it was a great brainstorming session, and the community is really helpful - that's one of the best aspect of the open-source phenomenon.
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