Clay Shirky on growing the Drupal community
by Kieran Lal
I am at Web2Open and participating in the rapid fire question and answer session. Clay Shirky, Web 2.0 keynote speaker, and author of "Here comes everybody" is at my table. Clay's ideas are like poetry which leaves me struggling to even think of a topic to discuss with him.
Clay talked about emergence and best practices in community participation. He asserted that the most effective and enduring communities are those centered around intellectual property. In contrast, he noted that most communities are event driven. For example, facebook started as a Harvard college social networking site focused on the event of attending college. Event based communities are what the majority of online communities are based on. This type of community is fleeting. Clay calls the motivation for these types of communities "stop energy".
The communities that are "start energy" communities are those that are centered around intellectual property. Start communities can last a long time. The best examples of intellectual property communities are open source communities. Suddenly my brain restarts and I've got some questions for Clay.
For the last question in our round table I mention that I work on an open source project called Drupal and that we had 700 plus people contribute to the core release .." Our conversation continued as follows:
Clay: "Oh! I love Drupal, we use it at ITP." He then asks if he can have one of my Darth Drupal stickers, which he grabs and puts on his badge.
Kieran: "So we had 9000 people participate in the project last year and I'd like to grow the amount of contributors."
Clay: (Animatedly grabs paper and pen and paper in the middle of the table. He draws the long tail graph.) Paraphrasing "The first ten percent is active Drupal contributors. How do you grow the tail? You create lots of lightweight tasks for people in the long tail to participate, tasks that can just take a minute."
Clay then goes on to talk about about a project called 10 000 cents which was an artist project to draw a 100 dollar bill. The point was to get lots of people to contribute just a little to make a whole. My take away was that we should make it easier to contribute to Drupal; this would increase the pool of significant contributors by recruiting them to participate. Let's take a look at five examples of easy contribution opportunities today:
- Googles GHOP program for Drupal. Small 3-5 day tasks for high school students.
- DROP tasks: http://drop.cwgordon.com
- Filing an issue in the issue queue
- Participating in a discussion at http://groups.drupal.org
- Blogging in Planet Drupal
Have you got an idea for how to make it easier to participate in the Drupal project? If so, share your ideas in the Drupal.org re-design group.