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  • Kia ora DrupalSouth - stories, insights, Drupal

    DrupaSouth badges photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyThis month’s Drupal Spotlight is a Q&A snapshot from some amazing speakers and organisers behind the recent DrupalSouth in Auckland, New Zealand. We look in and beyond the code at the voices and perspectives of people  building in Drupal and influencing our community, including how they got into technology, and vision for the future.

    Please note: videos of the DrupalSouth presentations will be up in the New Year - we will let you know when they are up so you can come back and watch!

    Katie Graham

    Code | Lego | cats (or for a second opinion) Interested | introverted | innovator

    How did you get your start in technology?

    As a kid I was always interested in finding out how things worked so I was obsessed with computers from when I first encountered one when I was four or five. We got dial up internet when I was about 14 and I soon figured out how to create websites, later learning PHP and MySQL. I never wanted to get paid for developing websites as I thought it might make it less fun, but a few years later I ended up doing a design degree and it was there that everything came together and I realised that development is what I should be doing. I started using Drupal in the final year of my degree and haven’t looked back!

    As one of the organisers of this years DrupalSouth what is the number one tip you could give to people running Drupal events?

    There were certain areas that were a lot more work than I anticipated, for example, we received so many more session submissions than we were expecting, so it was quite overwhelming.

    I think it’s really important to have a solid core team organising the conference and a lot of helpers for things that need to be done closer to and during the conference. Shout out to the other organisers and everyone who helped us! I’d also say try to relax and enjoy the event itself if you can...

    You are the technical director for a New Zealand web company, looking forward how do you expect to see the skill set of the people you need to hire changing over the next five years?

    That’s a tricky one as it depends on the direction that technology heads in, as well as what our clients are after. These days we’re hiring people with much different skill sets than we were five years ago as we’ve moved from primarily creating websites to creating apps and business systems too, plus we’re using front end frameworks like Vue.js which didn’t exist five years ago. I think what will stay consistent is that I’ll be looking for people who want to continue learning and are happy to try new things.

    Drupal South Organising team
    DrupalSouth organising team (and @Schnitzel!) Nicole Kirsch | Dave Sparks |  Michael Schmid | Pam Clifford  | Katie Graham | Morten Kjelstrup

    Rebecca Rodgers

    Rebecca Rodgers photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyPassionate | honest | energetic 

    How did you get your start in technology?

    I kind of fell into it as a HR professional, I was the only one in my team that could translate what the users needed to the tech guys so they could understand it.  That led to a post-grad in online education before moving on to designing great employee experiences.

    You specialise in intranets, on day one of looking at an intranet build, what’s the most important advice you give to organisations and their staff when preparing for the journey?

    Don't try to tackle too much.  Take a user centred design approach by understanding your employee needs, create a strategy that takes those needs and the needs of the organisation into account and go from there.  Let the needs and strategy drive the project rather than the technology. 

    What’s a trend in intranets and adoption of digital transformation that Drupal builders should keep in mind when planning for the future platform needs?

    Employees are facing more challenges than ever with the introduction of many information systems in the employee landscape which is making it harder for them to find the information they need.  It is essential to consider the whole Digital Workplace and the Digital Employee Experience which considers how employees work in the digital world rather than just looking at the intranet.

    Rebecca's DrupalSouth talk was: Put the employee experience at the heart of the digital workplace


    Laura Munro

    Laura Munro photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyNerdy | organised | creative 

    How did you get your start in technology?

    I got my start in technology through a social enterprise called DesignGel. When I graduated design school in 2013 my friend Denny Ford & I took over as company directors, and along with traditional design work, I would build Wordpress sites for small businesses, teaching myself along the way. Then about 3 years later I got pinched to work at Xequals after talking at a CSS Meetup. 

    At DrupalSouth you shared the site https://policy.nz. How important is it for developers to stretch their skills by taking on passion projects from time to time?

    I think developers are given a bit of a hard time on this point, because we're continuously learning on the job as it is. Doing passion projects from time to time is fantastic to keep inspiring you to try new things, especially if you're getting bogged down by more boring-ish projects at work.

    But I don't think developers should be expected to be coding every waking hour of their day, it makes us less productive and leads to burn out very quickly. I only work a 30 hour week at most, and it's great for productivity and my general well-being.

    You are all about the front end. What is your advice on the emerging techniques or frameworks to master for the future of Drupal front end?

    Get involved in the community! Drupal and front-end has a great community, in Wellington anyway. Go check out your local tech Meetups and find out what other people are getting excited about, or what their pain points are. My session at DrupalSouth featured the new CSS display properties flexbox and CSS grids, two new features in front-end that I'm really excited about.

    Laura's DrupalSouth talk was: Theming Drupal in 2017: A New Hope


    Kristy Devries

    Kristy Devries photo by Dreamcoat PhotographySassy | passionate | conscientious 

    How did you get your start in technology?
     
    My whole life I have always wanted to do everything, especially when it came to creative industries. When I was young, I did not have motivation to keep pursuing hobbies, apart from playing rollercoaster tycoon (which has resulted in me now being a bit cautious around theme parks). I was around fourteen years old when I randomly decided that I wanted to learn how to make websites. So I bought two books, one on HTML and the other on PHP and spent hours everyday after school learning. I initially used my HTML and CSS knowledge to spruce up my MySpace profile page and then I bought a domain name and installed the very first version of WordPress, I did not know about Drupal back then (so sorry), and started a blog. I don’t remember what I wrote about but I remember I had random internet blogger friends, I would list their website on my site and vice versa. Those were the days. 
     
    After high school, I did a year of an interdisciplinary creative industries bachelor, before deferring and spending the next few years working in hospitality and traveling around the world.  One morning, while working in a coffee shop in Europe, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in technology. I came back to Brisbane with a plan to study and concentrate on my career. After dedicating many nights on an application, making a website resume and sending it off, revamping my website resume, sending that off again and numerous calls later, I landed a job as a junior web developer at a local agency in Brisbane - my first job in this tech industry. 

    Support can be one of the toughest and sometimes even least rewarding gigs in tech, you seem to really enjoy it… why?
     
    While it can certainly be tough sometimes, the people I work with are a big part of why I enjoy it. There’s a real sense of comradery, especially within Acquia Support. If you’re stuck on a puzzling problem, there’s a global group of amazing people ready to jump in to help you. And provide banter of course. 
     
    I also get a chance to work on projects, for example presenting at Drupal South, as part of my role within Support. These projects can involve front end web development, user experience, design, strategy, event planning, which gives me a chance to dabble in a few areas of interest. While we do have an office in Brisbane, we have the flexibility work from home, or work remotely from another country (I spent 2 months in USA this year) so I get to travel as well as develop my career, which one of the reasons I wanted to work in the tech industry. 

    All in all, I feel like working in Support is a mixture of feverishly putting out fires and being on a treasure hunt. There is definitely always something to learn, and sometimes I feel like after two years in support, I don’t know anything. However, this blend of problems means there’s never really a dull moment! 

    You have leadership aspirations, what makes a good leader in the technology industry?
     
    A good leader has your back. A good leader gives you challenges and enables you to grow your career. A good leader is transparent and humble. A good leader leverages the frustrations of the team and customers and finds ways to turn that into solutions. A good leader hires the right people because he/she knows that having good coworkers is important for creating a fun and supportive culture. 
     

    Kristy's DrupalSouth talk was: How to be a self rescuing Princess


    Laura Bell

    Laura Bell photo by Dreamcoat PhotographySecurity | cat | herder

    How did you get your start in technology?

    At age 16 I found myself homeless and needing a job. My home town doesn't have many options so I applied to a junior/apprentice software role doing COBOL development. I didn't know much about computers and I'd never coded before but I needed a job and this looked like it had a future (hehe irony). I then went on to study AI and work a range of software and operations jobs before ending up in Security.

    You attended DrupalGov in Washington DC this year, what was your main takeaway?

    That the challenges we all face require a community to solve them. No single vendor or product can keep us safe or solve our needs so we need to start working together with authenticity and openness.

    Looking forward, what’s a piece of security advice or insight Drupal developers and site builders should be thinking about?

    80% of our problems can be solved by fixing 20% of our vulnerabilities in security. Pick simple behaviours and changes and try and change them one after another.... it soon adds up. 

    Laura's DrupalSouth talk was: Fear itself


    Hannah Del Porto

    Hanna del Porto photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyDisciplined | organized | a little bit silly

    How did you get your start in technology?

    It was an accident. I needed a job in college and ended up doing front-end development to pay the rent. I actually meant to be a lawyer!

    At DrupalSouth you talked about the difficulty in making changes to technology once a build is underway, considering the flexibility of Drupal what are some strategies for locking down scope?

    Putting scope in writing is extremely important to make sure both sides are on the same page and have a reference for what was agreed on. In my experience there are a lot of situations where you can't lock down scope before you've started work. That's where sprints are helpful so you can review and make adjustments as early as possible.

    It's also important to be as up-front as possible. If scope is not settled, be specific about what is undefined and how that may affect timeline and budget. Even for projects with a formal scope, building in a 10% budget and timeline reserve can make changes less painful for everyone.

    As a Chief Operating Officer where do you think future trends will evolve over the next couple of years? And how does this shape your forward planning?

    10 years ago I took an online Anatomy class which involved having a dead rat sent to my house then uploading photos of its dissected body to our class website. Every day there are new ways to have online experiences that used to require physical presence. At Brick Factory we focus on non-profits, so the future is about looking at how stakeholders interact with organizations and bringing those experiences online in ways that were previously reserved for "real life".

    Hannah's DrupalSouth talk was: How to Win Friends and Influence People (on the Programming Team)


    Aimee Whitcroft

    Aimee WhitcroftOpen | inquisitive | incorrigible

    How did you get your start in data?

    I wandered into the open data / open government space over a period of years, starting during my work with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and continuing through my work with GovHack NZ and various government departments and civil initiatives.

    In your talk you have a slide combining open data, open gov and open source equalling civic technology. Why is civic technology important for society?

    Civic technology is about "using technology to help empower the public in its dealings with government(s), though better information-generating/sharing, decision-making and accountability."  It's more than just "hacking for social good - it’s about hacking civic issues, and finding ways to directly help people."

    Medium post: Why we keep going on about CivicTechTowards a more open NZ (DrupalSouth Speech notes)

    If you could control the trends and data was open by default, would sort of web projects would we be building in the future?

    Gosh - that's an impossible question to answer! It would totally depend on the individual communities' needs. I think a great place to look for ideas is at previous GovHack projects (govhack.org.nz and govhack.org). My request would be that technologists (and I don't just mean developers!) find ways to reach out, respectfully and responsibly, into communities - especially our most vulnerable - to ask what they need and want, and then work with them to create those products and services.

    Aimee's DrupalSouth talk was: How can open source contribute to a stronger, kinder, more resilient NZ?


    Heike Theis

    Heike TheisStrangely | optimistic | human

    How did you get your start in technology?

    When I was about 4 years old, I took a pair of scissors and cut through the cable of my radio to see what electricity looks like. The cable was plugged in, the radio was on, and the scissors had metal handles... it was an interesting experience. But the incident did not take away an overwhelming desire to understand how things work and to find out if you can make them better. 

    During your DrupalSouth talk you shared examples of how you get customers to take control of their content. How important is it to build sites for publishers and digital marketers?

    Content is language and language is communication. A site that does not allow 'communicators' to take control of the dialogue (or monologue) with their customers is not a website at all. 

    You have been involved in an internal transformation and as a result your team has built a distribution, how does this approach help future proof your company's development needs?

    Streamlining and consolidating coding and configuration allows every member of our teams - thinkers, planners, designers, writers, and coders - to concentrate on the... let's call them 'special'... features. The things that are not already part of the Distro. The boring bits vanish. E.g. how many times do you want to decide (or discuss) which buttons to show in a minimal WYSIWYG editor profile? The Distro makes this decision for you: it presents you with 11 buttons we decided we want in 'general'. 10 buttons will be right for your specific site, and you might want to remove one and add two others. Still, that leaves you with 9 buttons you don't have to think about every single time. Does that make people happy... maybe not. But having to add 11 buttons every single time makes most people unhappy. Making people less unhappy in this industry is a big win in my book, and yes I think that helps to 'future proof our team's needs'. 

    Mind, working with Distros will not work for every company, every team, or every team member. If you want to re-invent the wheel every time or only do things 'your way', this is not going to work for you. 

    Heike's DrupalSouth talk was: From Content Strategy to Modular Design: Kick starting your Drupal Projects


    Ruth McDavitt

    Ruth McDavittHe tangata | he tangata | he tangata  translation/context (or less poetic English words) Connect | inspire | facilitate

    How did you get your start in technology/connecting people into technology?

    I've always been a connector, but was working on the business side, helping tech companies connect with customers and global markets. 

    Connecting people to technology careers evolved from that, my growing realisation that there's a huge disconnect between what people are learning & exposed to through mainstream education, and the growing need for more relevant & diverse skills to support the development of technology & enterprise & people.

    In your DrupalSouth talk you were firm in the need to create opportunities for people to gain experience in technology. Why is this important?

    We used to go to school to learn how to do things. with the current pace of technological change, we now have to DO things to learn about them. 

    It's always been difficult to get experience without a job, and a job without experience, but the rapid change in tools, processes and technologies means that it's harder than ever for teachers to keep up. 

    People (of all ages, backgrounds and experience) are creating, adapting, rejecting and inventing technology, and exposing them to the possibilities & tools is the best way I know to support them to create the future. 

    What’s a future trend or opportunity that you think the Drupal community could miss out on if we don’t increase diversity and make space for new people?

    Sustaining the Drupal community will only be possible through welcoming newcomers, and supporting their growth and needs. DrupalSouth was my first experience with your community and it felt very healthy! 

    For the aspiring tech people I work with though, I don't know what to tell them. Are there good pathways in, for people from all walks of life? Once you're a newbie, is there support & oopportunity to grow? Do you retain diverse senior & experienced people or are they moving on? Do all people feel valued, supported & celebrated? 

    I don't know the answers, but DrupalSouth felt open, welcoming, and I had great conversations with a diverse range of people. If you're thinking about these things then I reckon you're on the right track. The value of communities is the people in them, their passion and commitment for doing, sharing and making more awesomeness possible.

    Ruth's DrupalSouth talk was: Developing Developers: finding & growing new tech talent


    Fonda Le

    Fonda Le photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyPassionate | goofy | hyperempathetic 

    How did you get your start in technology?

    At the last minute, I changed my degree from Design to Media. After uni, I happened to fall into a web production role and (despite still having great interest in the design industry) I haven't looked back since - working in IT/Digital has offered me a variety of opportunities which I'm grateful for.

    Why did you choose to talk about the benefits of being an introvert scrum master at DrupalSouth? What do you want people to realise/understand? 

    To be honest, I wanted to submit something left of field so I was very surprised to find out my talk was accepted! After working for a bank where mainly extroverts were appreciated and/or promoted and after leading teams with so many introverts, I thought it'd be worth my while to look into generalisations around introversion and there's a bunch of material around on it these days. I feel like the (competent) introvert scrum master works really hard in the background and never asks for anything in return from the team or anyone really so I was keen for people to recognise this. I also wanted to highlight just how interesting the servant leader role is and how much of an influence the role has on a team.

    Project management approaches change over time. Is agile here to stay or can you foresee a shift that will be needed for projects of the future as organisational capacity changes?

    While agile feels like it's trendy at the minute, I don't think it's going anywhere as there are different 'flavours' that will suit different teams, projects and organisations ie. Scrum shouldn't necessarily be the go-to method for every company.

    Having a range of project management methodologies allows us all to be pragmatic - we should be using an approach that makes the most sense for what we're working on (considering what sort of experience or buy-in we have from the team members, company execs, etc) and anything within that approach which doesn't have value can be discarded.

    Fonda's DrupalSouth talk was: Benefits of an introvert Scrum Master


    Donna Benjamin

    Donna Benjamin photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyCurious | connected | caffeinated

    How did you get your start in technology?

    We had an apple IIe when I was a kid, I wanted to be a hacker after seeing War Games, I was a Sysop on a couple of telnet BBSes, and I made my first webpage in 1995, I ran my own business for 20 years.  I think I was always a nerd, who loved the shiny glint of technology, so I feel blessed I managed to make it my job! I believe tech helps us change things, make them better. I know it can also be used for less wonderful stuff.  It's on all of us to harness technology's power for good.

    ‘Being human’ is a stream that is often popular at Drupal conferences, why is it important to focus on the human side of code and tech?

    So important. So, so sooo important! Oh goodness me. Why? We make stuff for humans, we are humans. When we forget this, bad things happen.

    We must always bring our humanity to the table whenever we make things, and we must acknowledge our collective fragility when we work together. Tech can be high stakes and stressful, and that sometimes brings out the worst in people, but the flipside of this is we can always practice being better humans. And we should. And we should share tips and tricks on how to do so!

    You’ve been around Drupal for a while and seen some changes, if you could control the future where will Drupal be in five years’ time? How will it be being used?

    Drupal has consistently led the way when it comes to democratising technology that was only available to megacorps.  I hope it continues to do that.  In 5 years time? I reckon Drupal will still be used in ways it's being used right now, just as we see sites created in 2012 still working pretty much the way they did then. But we'll also continue to innovate. Omnichannel digital experiences, extending the web beyond the browser into conversational, kinaesthetic, tactile and mindpowered UIs will stretch us all. Re-imagining content itself, and addressing the challenge of personalisation without facilitating mass surveillance will really test our mettle. The march forward for Drupal is about embracing change, empowering the community, and maintaining our careful balance of commerce and community - it's one of the things I've always thought is special about the DrupalVerse.

    Donna's DrupalSouth talk was: Communication skills for everyone


    Rikki Bochow

    Rikki Bochow photo by Dreamcoat PhotographyHappy | quiet | focused 

    How did you get your start in technology?

    I studied graphic design at uni, and always enjoyed the web class (table based html and flash) that was included. I'd applied for a range of design positions afterwards but was particularly keen on web design, so was more than happy when a small web agency called me in for an interview. Unfortunately, I didn't get the job as I didn't have the technical abilities they were after.

    I went home and did some online tutorials around the kind of tech they were using, built a one page html/css (with divs!) thank you letter and sent it through, asking, if they had any work experience positions to please let me know! A couple of weeks later they called me in for work experience, which shortly turned into a full time position.

    I learnt more and more development languages and started enjoying coding way more than designing.

    What’s your favourite thing about the front end changes in Drupal 8 compared to 7?

    Twig is probably the one that stands out the most. The fact that there is less Drupalism in the theme layer, so we could hire front end developers who didn't necessarily have Drupal experience was a huge win. I also really like the improvements made to the Asset Library system (surprise!), making adding, overriding and extending core/module and base theme css/js so easy, it's really great.

    What advice do you have for a graphic designer wanting to make the leap into Drupal front end development?

    Don't let anyone, ever, tell you you can't or shouldn't bother (I was often told that UX would be better for me than development and I'm glad I ignored them)! Coding is the ultimate design tool and I think that's a nice way to think about it - it's not so scary, it's just a new tool. Designing in the browser is heaps of fun, as are animations and transitions (interaction design). You'll always be a designer, you don't have to stop. The two disciplines fit so well together you'll be so much better at both for having knowledge of the other.

    Rikki's DrupalSouth talk was: Front-end performance improvements with Drupal 8 Asset Libraries


    Next month the Community Spotlight will pay tribute to the life an impact of valued community member J-P Stacey whom recently passed away. We invite you to use this form to share thoughts and memories of J-P for us to share.


    Thanks to Dreamcoat Photography for the DrupalSouth images, visit the DrupalSouth Flickr page for more

    Some scheduling conflicts mean we will be bringing you the Spotlight article for Fatima Sarah Khalid @sugaroverflow very early in the new year.

    Drupal version: 
  • Accelerate Drupal 8 by funding a Core Committer

    This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

    Core fingers flying

    We have ambitious goals for Drupal 8, including new core features such as Workspaces (content staging) and Layout Builder (drag-and-drop blocks), completing efforts such as the Migration path and Media in core, automated upgrades, and adoption of a JavaScript framework.

    I met with several of the coordinators behind these initiatives. Across the board, they identified the need for faster feedback from Core Committers, citing that a lack of Committer time was often a barrier to the initiative's progress.

    We have worked hard to scale the Core Committer Team. When Drupal 8 began, it was just catch and myself. Over time, we added additional Core Committers, and the team is now up to 13 members. We also added the concept of Maintainer roles to create more specialization and focus, which has increased our velocity as well.

    I recently challenged the Core Committer Team and asked them what it would take to double their efficiency (and improve the velocity of all other core contributors and core initiatives). The answer was often straightforward; more time in the day to focus on reviewing and committing patches.

    Most don't have funding for their work as Core Committers. It's something they take on part-time or as volunteers, and it often involves having to make trade-offs regarding paying work or family.

    Of the 13 members of the Core Committer Team, three people noted that funding could make a big difference in their ability to contribute to Drupal 8, and could therefore help them empower others:

    • Lauri 'lauriii' Eskola, Front-end Framework Manager — Lauri is deeply involved with both the Out-of-the-Box Experience and the JavaScript Framework initiatives. In his role as front-end framework manager, he also reviews and unblocks patches that touch CSS/JS/HTML, which is key to many of the user-facing features in Drupal 8.5's roadmap.
    • Francesco 'plach' Placella, Framework Manager — Francesco has extensive experience in the Entity API and multilingual initiatives, making him an ideal reviewer for initiatives that touch lots of moving parts such as API-First and Workflow. Francesco was also a regular go-to for the Drupal 8 Accelerate program due to his ability to dig in on almost any problem.
    • Roy 'yoroy' Scholten, Product Manager — Roy has been involved in UX and Design for Drupal since the Drupal 5 days. Roy's insights into usability best practices and support and mentoring for developers is invaluable on the core team. He would love to spend more time doing those things, ideally supported by a multitude of companies each contributing a little, rather than just one.

    Funding a Core Committer is one of the most high-impact ways you can contribute to Drupal. If you're interested in funding one or more of these amazing contributors, please contact me and I'll get you in touch with them.

    Note that there is also ongoing discussion in Drupal.org's issue queue about how to expose funding opportunities for all contributors on Drupal.org.

  • Massachusetts launches Mass.gov on Drupal 8

    This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

    Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched Mass.gov on Drupal 8. Holly St. Clair, the Chief Digital Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined me during my Acquia Engage keynote to share how Mass.gov is making constituents' interactions with the state fast, easy, meaningful, and "wicked awesome".

    Constituents at the center

    Today, 76% of constituents prefer to interact with their government online. Before Mass.gov switched to Drupal it struggled to provide a constituent-centric experience. For example, a student looking for information on tuition assistance on Mass.gov would have to sort through 7 different government websites before finding relevant information.

    Mass.gov - Before and After

    To better serve residents, businesses and visitors, the Mass.gov team took a data-driven approach. After analyzing site data, they discovered that 10% of the content serviced 89% of site traffic. This means that up to 90% of the content on Mass.gov was either redundant, out-of-date or distracting. The digital services team used this insight to develop a site architecture and content strategy that prioritized the needs and interests of citizens. In one year, the team at Mass.gov moved a 15-year-old site from a legacy CMS to Drupal.

    The team at Mass.gov also incorporated user testing into every step of the redesign process, including usability, information architecture and accessibility. In addition to inviting over 330,000 users to provide feedback on the pilot site, the Mass.gov team partnered with the Perkins School for the Blind to deliver meaningful accessibility that surpasses compliance requirements. This approach has earned Mass.gov a score of 80.7 on the System Usability Scale; 12 percent higher than the reported average.

    Open from the start

    As an early adopter of Drupal 8, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to open source the code that powers Mass.gov. Everyone can see the code that make Mass.gov work, point out problems, suggest improvements, or use the code for their own state. It's inspiring to see the Commonwealth of Massachusetts fully embrace the unique innovation and collaboration model inherent to open source. I wish more governments would do the same!

    Congratulations Mass.gov

    The new Mass.gov is engaging, intuitive and above all else, wicked awesome. Congratulations Mass.gov!

  • We have 10 days to save net neutrality

    This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog. Please leave your comments on the original post.

    Cable squeeze

    Last month, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, released a draft order that would soften net neutrality regulations. He wants to overturn the restrictions that make paid prioritization, blocking or throttling of traffic unlawful. If approved, this order could drastically alter the way that people experience and access the web. Without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers could determine what sites you can or cannot see.

    The proposed draft order is disheartening. Millions of Americans are trying to save net neutrality; the FCC has received over 5 million emails, 750,000 phone calls, and 2 million comments. Unfortunately this public outpouring has not altered the FCC's commitment to dismantling net neutrality.

    The commission will vote on the order on December 14th. We have 10 days to save net neutrality.

    Although I have written about net neutrality before, I want to explain the consequences and urgency of the FCC's upcoming vote.

    What does Pai's draft order say?

    Chairman Pai has long been an advocate for "light touch" net neutrality regulations, and claims that repealing net neutrality will allow "the federal government to stop micromanaging the Internet".

    Specifically, Pai aims to scrap the protection that classifies ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Radio and phone services are also protected under Title II, which prevents companies from charging unreasonable rates or restricting access to services that are critical to society. Pai wants to treat the internet differently, and proposes that the FCC should simply require ISPs "to be transparent about their practices". The responsibility of policing ISPs would also be transferred to the Federal Trade Commission. Instead of maintaining the FCC's clear-cut and rule-based approach, the FTC would practice case-by-case regulation. This shift could be problematic as a case-by-case approach could make the FTC a weak consumer watchdog.

    The consequences of softening net neutrality regulations

    At the end of the day, frail net neutrality regulations mean that ISPs are free to determine how users access websites, applications and other digital content.

    It is clear that depending on ISPs to be "transparent" will not protect against implementing fast and slow lanes. Rolling back net neutrality regulations means that ISPs could charge website owners to make their website faster than others. This threatens the very idea of the open web, which guarantees an unfettered and decentralized platform to share and access information. Gravitating away from the open web could create inequity in how communities share and express ideas online, which would ultimately intensify the digital divide. This could also hurt startups as they now have to raise money to pay for ISP fees or fear being relegated to the "slow lane".

    The way I see it, implementing "fast lanes" could alter the technological, economic and societal impact of the internet we know today. Unfortunately it seems that the chairman is prioritizing the interests of ISPs over the needs of consumers.

    What can you can do today

    Chairman Pai's draft order could dictate the future of the internet for years to come. In the end, net neutrality affects how people, including you and me, experience the web. I've dedicated both my spare time and my professional career to the open web because I believe the web has the power to change lives, educate people, create new economies, disrupt business models and make the world smaller in the best of ways. Keeping the web open means that these opportunities can be available to everyone.

    If you're concerned about the future of net neutrality, please take action. Share your comments with the U.S. Congress and contact your representatives. Speak up about your concerns with your friends and colleagues. Organizations like The Battle for the Net help you contact your representatives — it only takes a minute!

    Now is the time to stand up for net neutrality: we have 10 days and need everyone's help.

  • Holistic Collaboration

    The following blog was written by Drupal Association Premium Supporting Partner, Wunder Group.

    For the past couple of years I have been talking about the holistic development and operations environments at different camps. As this year’s highlight,  I gave  a session in DrupalCon Vienna around that same topic. The main focus of my talk has been on the improvement opportunities offered by a holistic approach, but there is another important aspect I’d like to introduce: The collaboration model.

    Every organization has various experts for different subject matters. Together these experts can create great things. As the saying goes “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, which means there is more value generated when those experts work together, than from what they would individually produce. This however, is easier said than done. 

    These experts have usually worked within their own specific domains and for others their work might seem obscure. It’s easy to perceive them as “they’re doing some weird voodoo” while not realizing that others might see your work in your own domain the same way. Even worse, we raise our craft above all others and we look down at those who do not excel in our domain.

    How IT people see each other:

    But each competence is equally important. You can’t ignore one part and focus on the other. The whole might be greater than the sum of its parts, but the averages do factor in. Let's take for example a fictional project. Sales people do great job getting the project in, upselling a great design. The design team delivers and it gets even somehow implemented, but nobody remembered to consult the sysops. Imagine apple.com, the pinnacle of web design, but launched on this:
     


    (Sorry for the potato quality).
     

    Everything needs to be in balance. The real value added is not in the work everybody does individually, but in what falls in between. We need to fill those caps with cooperation to get the best value out of the work. 

    So how do you find the balance?

    The key to find balance and to get the most out of the group of experts is communication and collaboration. There needs to be active involvement from every part of the organization right from the start to make sure nothing is left unconsidered. The communication needs to stay active throughout the whole project. It is important to speak the same language. I know it’s easy to start talking in domain jargon. And every single discipline has their own. The terms might be clear to you, but remember that the other party might not have ever heard of it. So pay attention to the terms you use. 

    “Let's set the beresp ttl down to 60s when the request header has the cache-tag set for all the bereq uris matching /api/ endpoint before passing it to FastCGI” - Space Talk

    Instead of looking down to each other we should see others like they see themselves. Respect both their knowledge and the importance of their domain.

    How IT people should see each other: 


    (Sysadmins: not because we like to flip at everybody, but because Linus, the guy who can literally change the source code of the real world Matrix, the Web.)
     

    Everybody needs to acknowledge the goal and work towards it together. Not just focus on their own area but also make sure their work is compatible with that of others. There needs to be a shared communications channel where everyone can reach each other. It should also be possible to communicate directly to those people who know best without having any hierarchy to go through. The flat organization structure doesn’t only mean you can contact higher ups directly, but also that you can contact any individual from different area of expertise directly.

    By collaboration you can also eliminate redundancies. It can be so that there are different units doing overlapping work, both with their own ways. Or there could be a team that is doing the work falling in between two other teams. A good example of this is the devops team. Only in a very large organization there is probably enough work to actually have a dedicated team taking care of that work. As devops need to know something about both the development and the operations side they need to be experts on multiple areas. Still there are project specific stuff they need to adjust. This means communication between the development and devops team. Likewise this same information needs to be passed to sysops team. The chain could be even longer, but it’s already easy to play a chinese whispers, or telephone, over such a short distance. And there is probably nothing devs and ops couldn’t do together when communicating directly and working together to fill those gaps. 

    Working together, not only to get things done, but also to understand each other gives a lot of benefits with a small work. Building silos and only doing improvement inside them will only widen the cap and all the benefits gained from such improvements will disappear when you need to start filling the gaps between them. Now, go and find a way to do something better together!

    Written by Janne Koponen.