Beyond Barcamp Tampa Bay

This past weekend was the 3rd Barcamp Tampa Bay. Afterwords, Peter Radizeski one of the original organizers tweeted “how do we keep the community talking between BarCamps?”, to which my answer was that I believe the key is to foster the “mini” communities that come together at Barcamps, and that cross pollination amongst the smaller communities will keep the discussions going. To which Peter replied he didn’t think the cross pollination was working. I respect all of the work that Peter has done to help build Tampa Bay tech communities. I think we move in slightly different “mini” communities, so perhaps there are some that don’t cross over as much as others, but I will say in the 2 years since BarCamp 2008, I genuinely believe that it is happening. Perhaps not as fast as some would like, but it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know a single person in real life working with WordPress, web development or web technologies in the Tampa Bay area.

I was someone who had switched careers, was working from home freelancing, and all of my interaction was online. I used to joke that I had more friends in the industry overseas than I did in the Bay area. Now that is not the case. Perhaps partly from the proliferation of services like Twitter, but I now know real live human beings living in the Bay area who work with similar technologies as myself. That circle grows larger every time I attend a local event, be it Barcamp or more recently, the local WordPress User Group. I don’t get to hang out with these people as much as I’d like, but that’s the case with my friends not in the industry too. Life just gets in the way.

I do think there is a responsibility for those who want to see a more thriving community locally to as I said, foster the smaller communities and try and bring the Barcamp sharing and nurturing mentality to their smaller circles. Perhaps it’s time someone reaches out to Ryan and the Florida Creatives to start an active, local chapter to help bring the smaller communities together. Maybe there’s another umbrella organization that just hasn’t been started. Are people put off by the term “creative”? I honestly don’t have the answer. I know earlier this year myself and several others discussed what possible umbrella organization could help achieve this, and nothing came of it. Maybe it’s time to revisit the conversation in a broader scope? I was speaking with an organizer of BarCamp Sarasota and they do events year round under the BarCamp moniker. Is BarCamp evolving from the DIY stick-it-to-the-man un-conference into a “brand” that people can associate with and can be that umbrella? Again, I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but certainly would love to see the discussion continue, and will continue to make efforts in my smaller circles to build a local community of web technologist for the Tampa Bay area.

Habari .4 released

It’s official, Habari 0.4 DR has been released. It’s hopefully , the last developer release, and with .5 will enter beta status.

I’ve previously discussed what it is about the community that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling, and that continues to be the case as the project grows. It’s especially enriching to see new community members contributing.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this release possible.

For a little more info about the new release, I’ll let one of the newer community members, Michael Harris, outline some of the big changes.

I’m very excited about where this project is going, and can only imagine where it will be a year from now.

Habari 0.3 released

After roughly 3 months, the new developer release of Habari is now available for download. I just saw the 0.2 release was downloaded nearly 11,000 times, which I personally think is great, I’d hope to see double that for the .3 release.

This release has many bug fixes and features added, for both the coder and user. Personally, I contributed a fair amount of work on documentation, including my continued work on the manual, as well as getting my coding hands dirty a bit working on the first steps to overhaul the admin interface.

Participating in this community has been one of the few bright spots in my otherwise gloomy year, and I’d like to personally thank all of those who participate. I’ve also expanded my “tech” knowledge, specifically in relation to using more of the CLI and subversion. I actually managed to move a repository the other night from my local machine to a new repository on my Media Temple server that they provide. I’ve now even ventured into using macports to set up my old laptop to be a better mobile development environment, as MAMP for Panther doesn’t support PHP 5.2 (but that’s for a future post).

Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to the Habari community growing, and great things to come. Even if you aren’t ready to switch blog platforms, I’d highly suggest downloading and checking it out, and by all means, keep abreast of development. It’s a fun and inviting community, with a lot of excitement for what it’s future holds.

Also stay tuned for a soon to be updated version of Mzingimy Habari theme framework, to leverage some of the new features available to themes.

Habari DR2

I’ve already mentioned, this blog is powered by a new blogging engine, Habari. A second developer release is out the door, and can be downloaded now.

As a developer release, it’s still not guaranteed for everyday, production level blogging, however it’s stable enough that you can certainly install it and get a feel for how far it’s come, and where it’s going. For the less faint of heart, you certainly can follow along using SVN.

This release among opening up many new features that have been in core for some time, also realizes a goal of having docs shipped with the release. It was a primary goal of the project from the start, and recent discussion about using the aforementioned TiddlyWiki as a means of distributing the documentation brought me into the fold on that aspect. Thanks to the initial work by Khaled, including customizing the CSS to match Habari’s proposed new admin interface, I was able to incorporate the basics from Habari’s wiki, and do some initial leg work on getting license agreements to use some TW community released plugins for future releases.

I must say it is quite satisfying to have contributed in some meaningful way to such a project, and certainly fueled the fires to more actively involve myself in documentation writing for the project, as well as any other positive contributions I can make. I’d really like to thank all of the project members, and additional community members who’ve brought Habari this far, as well as in general thank them for creating such a welcoming community. At this juncture in the development, it’s quite refreshing for there not to be a divide between users and coders, unlike an unnamed project I volunteered with in the past. This certainly is a goal for Habari, and I sincerely believe them when they say it will continue in that fashion. Alienation is the quickest, surefire way of loosing morale support and non code contributions to a community, and as I said, I whole heartedly believe the core of Habari understand that, and will avoid the culture of elitism that I’m sure permeates many other open source projects.

If you are looking for something new to get your thoughts onto the web, I’d seriously suggest considering Habari and getting involved in the community.