One of the really amazing advantages to being in Oklahoma is the fact that we get to learn everything about building a Drupal Community for ourselves. Of course, that's also one of the bad things about being in Oklahoma, but I'm feeling "glass half full" today. One of our basic principles as a company is "education". There's a lot of really important points to make here, but the two I'm going to focus in on are the facts that:
- There are companies in our market place that are taking advantage of the small to medium sized businesses in this market.
- Open Source technologies are often head and shoulders above their proprietary counterparts.
This is something that you just can't really expect the average business owner to intuitively understand, and so we educate as much as we can. However education of business owners only goes so far. At some point you have to start reaching out to those in your own community and help pull them into the bigger world around us.
With these thoughts in mind, I had the pleasure of attending two different speaking engagements last week... both on the same night! The first was the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce Technology Summit. The Technology Summit was a first for me in many ways. I speak almost every single week, multiple times a week usually. Whether that's teaching our own internal staff about the inner-workings of Drupal, or teaching potential clients about Open Source and Drupal, I find that a good portion of my time is spent talking. But the Technology Summit was a little different in that I was, in many ways, speaking to people in, or near to our own industry. Being questioned about Drupal's relation to the "mobile web" and discussing web development with Dell employees afterward (the event was held at the Dell facility here in Oklahoma City) was a new experience, and one which I hope I'll get to repeat at the next Summit.
Similarly but different was the AIGA meeting. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than myself will comment on this as I can't for the life of me remember what AIGA actually stands for (and their website didn't help in this regard either... perhaps an oversight?) but suffice it to say the "GA" is "Graphic Artists". So again, twice in the same night I'm speaking to users that are far more educated than the average customer. Now the AIGA meeting had a twist as I had exactly 2 minutes to discuss my topic (of course it was Drupal) and get off the stage. I spent a little bit of time surveying the crowd about their use of content management systems, and exposure to Drupal, which was... unsurprisingly far more than my regular crowd of spectators. However it was disappointing to note that only one person in the crowd was actively involved with using Drupal on a site. Others are playing and finding our beloved Drupal, but most could use a bit of a boost to help them out. With that said, we're very much of the opinion that a Drupal User Group needs to happen here in Oklahoma, and I'm committed to making it happen.
At the end of the day they were both amazing experiences and I will definitely be attending the AIGA functions on a more regular basis. I went and signed up on the Oklahoma chapter website today... they're running Drupal (4.7.2) but hey it's good to see a familiar face. :-)