Sailboats with Mt Hood in the distance.

Thoughts From Tallinn to DrupalCon

A geeky travel journal

Photo by Chris Lewis

After rising at 3:50 a.m. for a 6:05 a.m. flight from Tallinn, I am sitting at the airport in Frankfurt, awaiting a flight to Vancouver. Upon landing I'll take a bus to Whistler. I estimate my total travel time today will be about 24 hours. Why am I doing this? DrupalCon, of course! (Well, that and the fact that I last visited Whistler over ten years ago and didn't want to waste a great opportunity. Living in Estonia as I do, it's not often I get to the west coast. But I digress, I'll get back to DrupalCon soon.)

On the flight to Frankfurt I listened to Sam Harris's podcast with Roger McNamee, "The Trouble With Facebook". It was pretty chilling, describing the extent to which our personal information has become monetized and even weaponized with most of us having no clue what's being done with our data, never mind explicitly authorizing its use. Back when I got my Gmail account, did it go without saying that Google will read through everything in my inbox? Is a hotel allowed to spy on me because I'm using its room?

Anyway, after listening, I was reminded that technology can be used for good and bad. It was easy to imagine Facebook and Google engineers being instructed to greedily and maliciously code new ways to intrude on our lives while cashing out on stock options and Silicon Valley clout. [Cue evil moustache twirling.] I'm sure it's not like that, but it's fun to point the finger at perceived villainy.

The reason I'm saying all this is because jet lag makes me philosophical and that cartoonish interpretation stands in stark contrast to the reality I have observed at DrupalCon, where the technology is on the side of good. I don't recall DrupalCon presentations along the lines of "How to Harvest User Data with Drupal 8" or "Building GDPR Circumvention into Drupal 9". The DrupalCon attendees I have met over the last few years are genuine, curious and very smart. They dig the technology but also the diverse group of weirdos, cranks, extroverts, introverts and regular, ole' people that make up the Drupal community.

Every year DrupalCon teaches me to appreciate the power of open source, its transparency and its collaboration. And, really, though Whistler's nice, DrupalCon's the reason I'm traveling halfway across the world today.

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