GovCon 2018 Takeways

Drupal GovCon shield logo

We recently returned from Drupal GovCon and have some standout items we want to share. Overall, the experience was a lot of fun. It was exciting to get to watch Adam give the keynote on how to make an impact in the community. At Hook 42 we love giving back to the community, and it was a great reminder of how everyone who wants to give back, can contribute.

Session / BoF / Training / Track / Summit

Adam: I was honored to be able to give the keynote for the first day of the event. I have been attending Drupal GovCon for years and have always aspired to do this. On top of the keynote, I had a session on Components with Brian Perry (this was super fun) and participated in the governance and coffee BoFs. As such, I was not able to attend the full set of sessions I had wanted to. I often prefer to watch recordings anyway (thank you, Kevin Thull). I tend to learn more when it’s quiet and I prioritize spending time with people when I am at events. 

However, there are a lot of thought provoking sessions I have queued up to watch. There was some great technical content: David Hernandez Demystified Composer, Todd Nienkirk and Gerardo Maldonado both explored a future decoupled perspective on the web (in their respective sessions), and Jakob Perry dove into complexities between data structures and relationships.

There were many non-technical talks that I plan to watch as well: 

It was very clear from discussions and the energy at the conference that people spent a lot of time bringing relevant and thought-provoking topics to share at the conference. I was super impressed with both Lindsay’s and Aimee’s sessions. Overall, I was really pleased with the schedule at the event and know I’ll learn a lot.

Adam Bergstein delivering the Drupal GovCon keynote

Aimee: I had booth duty, so I didn’t go to many sessions. The caliber of speakers across the board provided a fantastic exploration on a wide breadth of topics. If you didn’t get to go to a session in person, speaking with the presenters in the “hallway track” and at social events was a learning experience not to miss. Thanks to Kevin Thull, the sessions are recorded and posted to each session page quickly. I’m still catching up on sessions! 

I’m not supposed to just talk about our team, but here we go: Adam’s keynote was inspirational and had a lot of very practical attainable improvements for helping folks navigate the Drupal Community. Lindsay did a great job covering Drupal 8 Custom Module development. She provided a clear path of how Drupal 8 module files communicate with and depend on each other. Mind blown. 

Joe from Aten presented about how to write a clear RFP. It was a time for responders and writers to discuss what works and what doesn’t when wrangling legalease to get project work done. It also had Van Halen references (David Lee Roth era) - win win! 

Dwayne from Pantheon is always a great speaker and rallies the folks, even when he closes out the camp with the last session slot. You must discover his session on Discovery!! You are a champ, Dwayne!

Lindsay: My biggest take away from GovCon is that we are a community - and that developers need to focus on accessibility. Websites are for people, so it makes sense that we want to create a platform that can reach as many people as possible. As a community, we also need to make it easier for people to contribute to Drupal.

An attendee at DrupalGovCon displaying personal pronoun sticker on their badge

Adam had a lot of great suggestions in his keynote that could help the community grow stronger. A great example of community contribution in action is Kevin Thull. Kevin gets his steps in at every conference he goes to by rushing from room to room getting every session recorded. In case you couldn’t make the trip to DC, all the recordings are available on YouTube.

While I didn’t get the chance to go to a lot of sessions, I did attend a great accessibility talk by Tearyne Glover. She gave a real-life example of how inaccessible websites hurt real users and how to fix these problems. 

Conversation

Adam: One of the points I raised in the keynote was the importance of the human connection within our community. There was a vibrant energy around this event that exemplifies this connection. Between the “hallway track” and the BoFs, much of my GovCon experience was conversation. And, that’s probably my favorite part. Since we are a distributed company, connecting with Aimee and Lindsay on our team was one of my highlights. It’s a great chance to connect with my community friends and make new ones. 

There were so many special people that attended (to name a few…): Kevin Thull, Brian Perry, Becca Goodman, Chris Urban, Dwayne McDaniel, David Hernandez, Tim Erickson, Danita Bowman, Brian Hirsh, Mike Herchel, Iris Ibekwe, Gerardo Gonzalez, Kev Walsh, Joe Shindelar, Elli Ludwigson, several of my previous co-workers at CivicActions and Acquia, and many more (by no means intentionally leaving someone out). This time together reaffirms how great our community is. Many people connected with me about my keynote. It’s these relationships that build trust and open up conversations to new and innovative things our community can accomplish.

Aimee at a Drupal GovCon session

Aimee: It was really great to connect with people who work within the government and public service space. I don’t often get to talk with folks working in those environments at camps. Working in the government, and supporting organizations, comes with challenges and strengths that take on a different tone than the private sector. It is beneficial and informative to hear about the technical and organizational needs of our public servants. 

Lindsay: It’s very hard to single out one conversation, so I’ll just say it was great to be at a Drupal event with Drupalers. Someone mentioned that the Drupal community was such a strange unique thing, because he had never heard of another group of people that voluntarily go to conferences on Saturdays. Overall, I am also just happy when I get to hang out with a great group of Drupalers. I met a lot of new people and had a great time!

Social Events

Adam: The Brickside event is one of the highlights of GovCon for me, as I often do not participate in game nights or events too far from the venue. The food, drinks, and good company at the GovCon happy hour always lift the experience. Often people continue onto karaoke, dinner, or other fun evening plans.

Aimee: The GovCon team really does a nice job putting together mixers for attendees to chat in a social venue. Filled with nachos, wings, and beer, the attendees hung out and got to chat at Brickside. Many camp organizers come to the event and it provides a great opportunity to hear how other camps across the US are being run and how they are responding to the community’s needs. There was a nice game night in the camp hotel that had a good attendance, although I only peeked through the window on the way back home.

Lindsay: Every night there was a dinner... and lots of talking... and lots of laughing. From the World of Beer, to Brickside, to Rock Bottom, to the tapas, and back to Brickside - I had a great time with great people.

Overall GovCon Experience

Adam: GovCon continues to be a great event on my schedule each year. The combination of connections, schedule quality, social events, and, honestly, the size of the event just make it special. I really appreciate all of the work done by the organizers; and, how much people invest in their sessions and booths to make the event special. 

Aimee, Adam, and Lindsay enjoying a session at Drupal GovCon

Aimee: GovCon is a wonderful event - the way it is managed, the people that attend, the relevant and timely topics, and the excellent location at the NIH. It is one of my favorite camps to attend and I look forward to returning next year. Thank you for hosting us, Drupal GovCon team!

Lindsay: This was my first GovCon and it was amazing! I met so many wonderful people, took my first trip to DC, presented at the NIH, and got to attend a very well-run camp filled with Drupalers. Awesome!

We hope to see you all at BADCamp!!