Battle plans for the Drupal jungle

It is never easy to communicate about a work in progress. There is always a good excuse to wait a bit longer, so to include the latest news. Still this way I’m never going to post a thing.

Exactly a month ago I was analyzing the Drupalcon sponsoring in the past years to find dedicated Drupal shops. Then I start mailing the companies, most replied fast and were very open to discuss the matter. I’ve gone to Drupalcon with a specific reason: to investigate if open innovation is spontaneous emerging in the Drupal business ecosystem.

While I planed to only interview the Drupal shops, to get a better view on the above research question, we mostly end up discussion my research in more depth. It turns out Drupal is really becoming an open innovation medium, although it was different from my anticipation. I was expecting the companies intentionally manage alliances, but it seems more an emerging issue. It turns out that the IT-support for the open innovation already existed, what a surprise! Another surprise was the diversity, I was expecting to find some patterns, but the diversity is so large it is the pattern!

It is astonishing how big the Drupal project is becoming and I’m not just talking about code. There are all kind of organizations and events happening. The panel discussion can gave a good idea of the diversity of the businesses. From the interviews I’ve also noticed how little redundancy exist, which is even more surprising. Drupal is becoming so big and fit, its not a small ecosystem, it’s a jungle!

Needless to say, by the end of day one my head exploded, by day three I decided to become much more dedicate to Drupal. I’ve been trying to get more active in the Drupal community ever since we had a research project in 2006 on knowledge sharing. I’ve tried and failed for two years to get some Drupal research going and finally I gave up. There were simply not enough signals to go on. Well, there were plenty this time. So here are my battle plans for the coming time:

Currently I’m writing up the paper, which includes the recent interviews. The working paper should be out in a few weeks.

I’ll be collaborating to create an academic Drupal journal (or better proceedings) to go along with the Drupalcons. The current signals are exciting, it will be something radical new. If all goes well this will get announced in Chicago (March).

I was also very surprised about the Drupal next generation plan (alias Drupal 8). Sadly no video is online, but Crell just made a blog about it and put his presentation online. Can’t wait to contribute some code to this!

I’ve also got some other plans, but this will get shape in the coming year. I’m much dedicated to the idea of building a Drupal-lab: an R&D infrastructure for the Drupal community. The journal is one project in this direction. There is also an idea of “organic roadmaps”, but that is bright new. I’m particular interested in the combination of education and micro-spinoffs. From my WSDB course it became clear that we could have micro-spinoffs for master students after a two years master of technology program. I’m interested to learn how this could reinforce the exiting Drupal ecosystem. Currently the course is only using Drupal, no collaboration with the community exists. It would be interesting to see how we could contribute.

The Drupal-lab idea fits my research on Enterprise Innovation Planning (EIP) system. The goal is to create IT-support for innovation. I hope my coming working paper can communicate the plan good enough to make more people understand it. At this moment it still takes me several hours before the plan is explained, this should become better before we can think of creating a concrete project on it.

Well, much to do … back to work !