I recently attended the Baltimore Drupal Camp, my second time there after last year’s event. There were a couple of differences for me this year personally, in that we had a sponsor table and I attended a wider array of sessions.

Having a table wound up being especially productive, since the camp was running a scavenger hunt where attendees collected signatures of various sponsors for the chance to win prizes including a television or a Hello Kitty speaker. Many attendees were participating in the hunt and, being the only sponsor of our level with a table, pretty much everyone had to say hello to us! I met a lot of nice people, some of which I hope will follow up and get involved at Last Call Media.

The keynote by Jim Jagielski (a founding member of the Apache Software Foundation) took a deep dive into the meaning of “open source”, an unexpectedly layered topic. One aspect of it he pointed out that struck me was how it creates a level playing field and how that fuels progress. Jagielski went on to talk about the early history of Apache and consequently the early history of the internet itself. (Including detailing some of the early competitors to “the web”!) His advice for groups with similar ambitions? “Fail fast.”

Next up was “Help Your Monkey Boss/Client See the [Drupal] Light” by Andres Zapata. Despite the bombastic sounding title (which I confess may have been explained in more detail in the first few minutes of the session which I missed), I found Zapata’s session to be a fascinating exploration of the ins and outs of communicating with clients, and not just about Drupal projects. Topics covered included the dangers of overselling, how to approach and employ reason and emotional responses, and planning for known concerns.

The last session I’ll talk about was “Basic Website Accessibility” by Charlie Cook. Accessibility is a tricky topic for site builders for a number of different reasons, so I was excited to hear an expert on the subject. I got that and more as Cook, a longtime programmer for the National Federation of the Blind, is not only an expert in his field, but could just might be the long lost brother of Dr. Lawrence Jacoby from Twin Peaks. Cook talked about some of the early devices used for accessibility, how the initiative has developed throughout the history of the internet, outlined some basic steps attendees can take to make their projects accessible, and directed them to online accessibility resources.

At the end of the day I may not have walked away with the Hello Kitty speaker, but I was really glad to have met people in my community and had a number of big ideas about interactive design to chew on. See you next year Baltimore Drupal Camp!

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