The following guest post was written by Islandora Camp Colorado attendee Bryan Brown, who joined us from Florida State University:
Islandora Camp CO was over a week ago now, but I’m still digesting the experience. Having been to several conferences before, I was expecting something similar where a Sage on the Stage lectures about some abstract topic while the audience passively listens (or doesn’t). I was pleasantly surprised at the smaller and more personal atmosphere of iCamp, where we were free to ask questions in the middle of presentations and instructors revised their talks based on what the audience was most interested in. Instead of canned slideshows, Islandora Camp is an interactive experience that could vary wildly depending on who attends. This is because the core theme of Islandora Camp, and maybe even Islandora in general, is community.
From the first day where we all introduced ourselves and how we are using Islandora, I quickly felt like I knew everyone at camp and felt no hesitation to strike up a conversation with others about their work. The conversations I had with other campers about how they are using Islandora stuck with me just as much as the presentations and workshops. I met a lot of interesting developers and administrators who are working on projects similar to my own and came back to Florida with a greatly extended network of fellow Islandorians I could work with to solve shared problems. Instead of treating our Islandora instances like unique snowflakes and solving our problems in a vacuum, we need to come together and discuss these problems as a community so we can create better solutions that help more people.
The future of Islandora is not up to the Islandora Foundation or Discovery Garden, but with Islandora users. If you want Islandora to be better, it’s not enough to sit around and wait for new modules to come out or complain about problems they might have. File bug reports when you find an issue. Volunteer to test modules for new releases. Contribute your patches as a pull request. Join an interest group. There are lots of ways to get involved in the Islandora community, even if you aren’t a developer. Since we are all using the same system, we are all in the same boat. This sense of connectedness might just be the secret sauce that makes iCamp such a great experience.