Bridging Worlds: Aidan F. Dean Dunn on Reporting, Learning, and Connecting at DrupalCon

Covering DrupalCon Pittsburgh '23: Varun Baker talks with Aidan Dean Dunn
Bridging Worlds: Aidan F. Dean Dunn on Reporting, Learning, and Connecting at DrupalCon

As a budding media organization, The DropTimes (TDT) has used both interns and volunteers to help us cover major Drupal events. With a remote desk operated from a distant land, we were able to report events as far as from the other side of the world. At DrupalCon Pittsburgh 2023, we had Aidan F. Dean Dunn as a Journalist Intern to cover the biggest enterprise web event in the Drupal world. Beautifully crafted stories from the event are available beneath his byline linked above. At the time, he had just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Communication and Media Studies. In this conversation with Varun Baker, a volunteer who helped us out in Pittsburgh, Aidan, the intern, speaks about his experience of being hired to report on the event and how he went about it.

Aidan highlights the welcoming and diverse nature of the Drupal community. His experience underscored the significant learning opportunities and the inclusive environment that DrupalCon offers, even for those new to technology. 

This testimonial serves as a Call to Action for Media and Communication students who would love to do a Journalism Internship and for Conference Delegates who would love to double as Digital Media Volunteers with TDT. You could help us collect, collate, and report the upcoming DrupalCon NA 2024 in Portland. The DropTimes continues to seek volunteers for Portland. Engage with lots of people from across the globe. Enhance your skills. 

Here is a full transcript of the above conversation in text. Please read on:

Varun Baker [1]: I want to start by asking you to introduce yourself, and then we'll get into how DrupalCon has been.

Aiden F. Dean Dunn: Certainly, I'm Aiden Dean Dunn. I've been freelancing with The Drop Times, covering DrupalCon from Philadelphia. My journey started as a student at the University of Pittsburgh, and it's been a great experience seeing so many people flock to the city for this event.

Varun Baker [2]: Aidan, as a recent graduate, your perspective on DrupalCon must be unique. Could you share how the experience has been for you?

Aidan F. Dean Dunn: Seeing all these people passionate about something I knew nothing about is fascinating. I don't have a huge background in tech in general, particularly software coding, software development, and open source. Seeing the way this community interacts, how passionate they are, and how many different facets of it there are beyond just product development but also the why of why people choose open source, why people choose Drupal, and why people choose to build their lives around it. I think it was very interesting to see that something you didn't know existed and how it does exist in a real way.

Varun Baker [3]: You mentioned you were exposed to a lot of things that were new to you, like technology, open source, and Drupal specifically. For other people who are just getting into it, what are your impressions of the community given these past three days, and what would you say to other people who are considering attending or getting involved with The Drop Times in the future? As someone who's going to create content and help promote what we're doing in Drupal.

Aidan F. Dean Dunn: Everyone's personal and friendly. Many people didn't want to be on camera for interviews, that's all right, but they were having fun. There was an air of fun at the conference. You walk around and hear people conversing, rejoicing seeing each other when they haven't seen each other for a long time.

So, you're in a great spot for someone with a background in Drupal and open source. You're in a place where you can bond with like-minded individuals but people who differ in other ways. You've got the base interest that you can bond with, but there are all kinds of people from all over the world here, and these conferences are all over the world.

If you're not from a background in Drupal, you are still in a community with beliefs, so focus on that and the human interest parts of it. We did DrupalCon, and there were presentations throughout the day for two and a half days straight. There's the technical side of it that you can dive into, and there's a significant learning curve. Then, there are several other facets, just like anything else. And I think keep your nose out, and as you dive into this universe, figure out what interests you because it's there.

Varun Baker [4]: So, as a journalist and someone who's looking at being involved with The Drop Times, what are some of the key takeaways from being here? I want to understand your suggestions for the Drupal community regarding what we can do better in the future and how we can get the word out about the awesome work you can see happening.

Aidan F. Dean Dunn: I think something that you helped me see as to why I'm doing this is—having people who can bridge that gap between the technical of Drupal and the non-technical. So in terms of expanding the community, really being able to explain the why of why people do this: because you get into this arena, because you're interested in tech development and computers, and you can see the imminent change that it is going to have and already has had on our world.

But when you choose Drupal, you choose to build a life around it. It seems like people do that out of values and out of the community. So, I think for building that community, just showing what you're all about, whether that's the writing, videos like this, or online conversations that expand from the self-contained, could help grow it.

I know that Dries, who is the community's leader and the creator of Drupal, talked about the reversal of the web and how what is now a pull—where you go onto the internet and if I wanted to find if I was interested in open source technology, I would have to go to the internet and pull the information out, I would have to search that, review websites, and find it—He believes that in the future, the web and the economy, in general, will become more of a push economy so that information makes itself present to you. So, finding ways to push Drupal and making it available to people who may not know that this community could be what they're looking for could help grow it.

Varun Baker [5]: It's pretty inspiring that you can use your experience here to look into the future in different ways. Do you have any tips for volunteers or people who may want to contribute content through The Drop Times in the future that you'd share? Do you have any tips or pointers that you know you'd want to leave with people?

Aidan F. Dean Dunn: Questions, I mean, try to spark conversation, particularly digital conversations inherent in many of them. But again, ask questions within these digital spaces where people can chime in their opinions, and someone can come along, and they can read through and see. You want to cause interactions and show that this community is alive.

I think the visual is always very interesting, and again, a big thing with tech is that there could be a really big learning curve, which could be like anything. But if someone has this idea of what coding is and you know web development, it can seem so foreign that they don't even want to dip their toe in to understand what it's about.

Even though I haven't sat down at a computer and done coding, and I don't understand the guts of it now, there's a lot about this community I can understand and see the base human and societal value in. So, I think creating content that shows that is valuable for everyone—from those who are extremely tech-minded and interested in it to those who aren't—because this community touches a lot of our digital reality, whether you know it or not.

Disclaimer: The information provided about the interviewee has been gathered from publicly available resources. The responsibility for the responses shared in the interview solely rests with the featured individual.

Note: The vision of this web portal is to help promote news and stories around the Drupal community and promote and celebrate the people and organizations in the community. We strive to create and distribute our content based on these content policy. If you see any omission/variation on this please let us know in the comments below and we will try to address the issue as best we can.

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