[Evangelism] Re: Lessons learned from the first World Plone Day

Chris Barnes chris at txbarnes.com
Wed Nov 12 15:22:45 UTC 2008

I was a "simple attendee" at the Houston WPD, so take my impressions for 
what they're worth.

(1) attendance in Houston was "ok".  I didn't do a head count, but a 
rough guess would put the number at around 20.  Honestly, I expected 
(hoped) for at least 2-3 times that number.

(2) the facility we had at the U. of Houston was fantastic.  This is 
probably because one of the Plone founders (Alan Runyan) is local 
(literally just a few miles away).  The free lunch provided, while a 
simple box sandwich/wrap type, was quite good.  Whoever arranged it 
deserves major kudos!

(3) Audience - I feel for the presenters because it is always difficult 
to gauge just who your audience is likely to be.  It seemed that more 
than 50% of the attendees in Houston already had some experience w/ 
Plone.  Unfortunately, this isn't true for myself and my wife (one of 
only 2 females in attendance).

I came as a system administrator, but not web designer, who is looking 
at it from a "is this something that will make my life - and the life of 
the users in my dept - easier?".  Iow, I wanted some of the technical 
details about installation (on Linux) and *configuration*.  There was 
virtually none.  :-(    Now that's not to say I didn't get anything out 
of it - it was still worthwhile for me to attend.  And the fact that I 
won a door prize of a Plone User's Guide book is likely going to be VERY 
helpful!  :-)

My wife came as "VERY non-tech oriented, but trying to maintain a 
website for a non-profit organization" person.  Much of the discussion 
was WAY over her head, but she was able to glean enough (she's not 
totally tech incompetent) to see how using Plone is probably the right 
tool for the job she is trying to accomplish (by comparison, she is 
currently using Google Apps).

(4) Presenters - Alan presented 2 of the topics and was fantastic.  They 
were BY FAR were the best ones there (at least as far as getting 
information I could use out of it).

In fact, there was really only 1 presentation that I felt was not all 
that great - it was a remote "call-in" that really wasn't about Plone, 
but was instead almost totally about their website.  To be more clear, I 
really wasn't interested in what their website was about or how people 
use it - I wanted to see how they used Plone to build it.

(5) Content - Overall, I think the content was directed mostly at the 
"ubber geek, *programmer*" audience.  Honestly, I think this is a 
mistake.  Please don't misunderstand me; I liked WPD - it was useful for 
both me and my wife to attend.  We both got something out of it.

BUT (you knew I had to include a "but"), if the goal is to build 
evangelism in Plone, I think the target audience needs to be redirected 
more toward folks like myself (maybe 15%-20% of the content) and my wife 
(at least 70% of the content).  Now maybe this is because I believe in 
an "end-user driven environment".  After all, it's the end-user, not the 
programmer, that will dictate what systems, programs, environments get 
used and "win in the end".


Chris Barnes                           AOL IM: CNBarnes
chris-barnes at tamu.edu                Yahoo IM: chrisnbarnes
Computer Systems Manager               MSN IM: chris at txbarnes.com
Department of Physics                      ph: 979-845-7801
Texas A&M University                      fax: 979-845-2590

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