Blog use and first thoughts about Drupal

Still no tweets from me, but I do now have 3 followers. Soon. The anticipation must be killing them. Meanwhile I have been busy sharpening up my various foci of identity online. For example, this blog has returned to its predominant themes of openness, free and open source software, and reflections on such software and the communities that grow and sustain it. Gone is the fun widget from LibraryThing displaying books that I have recently added to my catalog there (if you are reading this via an rss feed you may never have seen that). I have moved that over to my other blog, Transformative Explications, which focusses on books and writing. There is a link here in my blogroll. My thinking is that it is better to give these two passions a separate and distinct location on the web without trying to disguise that they are both a growing part of me.

My other blog is located on a domain I set up back in 2007: www.randymetcalfe.com. I hadn’t done much with that domain or with the web hosting package that lies behind it, but I am now actively developing it.

You will notice, if you visit it, that the blog is a WordPress installation. WordPress is just one of an array of software packages available via the Fantastico De Luxe installer that comes with my web hosting package. Since my skills do not lie in system administration, this turns out to be a great way for me to experiment with and commit to using some FOSS. I’m happy with the WordPress install that I have but it doesn’t prevent me from also living in the cloud over here at Blogger. Of course my needs are simple; more complex requirements might have necessitated a clear choice.

The other FOSS that I have been exploring of late is Drupal, which is also available to me via Fantastico. After a couple of test installs at different domains, I have committed to exploring Drupal more fully. To that end I have been patiently documenting my learning curve (more on that later) as well as looking for opportunities to engage with the Drupal community.

Drupal is not as simple to use as WordPress, clearly, but its capabilities are vast (limitless?) and to take full advantage of it my learning curve will need to go on for some time. I’ve made some initial moves on participating in the Drupal community – joining email lists, sitting in on IRC, even attending my local Drupal user group meeting this past week. I was also lucky enough to go to one day of the nearby Toronto DrupalCamp, where I saw Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, give an inspiring talk. What have I learned so far, other than that I have a lot to learn? I’ve learned that the Drupal community is strong. It has a lot of small and mid-size web consultancy businesses actively participating within it. And there are a lot of people around with, it seems to me, a great deal of technical knowledge. Enough so that it will, I think, be a long time before I manage to find any way to contribute to this community other than by using the software and enthusing, where possible, about it.

If I have sharpened my use of my blogs in the past week, then I will have got somewhere. Still a lot more things to think about in this exploration of my PIO. But until then…