Come to DrupalCon and _________ a Session About ___________

When I was a kid, my siblings and I used to play with Mad Libs. If you aren’t familiar with them, Mad Libs are basically one-page stories or vignettes, with various words missing. Where those words should be are blanks, and each blank is labeled “noun” or “verb” or whatever type of word should be filled in.

One of us would hold the story and call out “noun?” - and write down the agreed-upon answer; “verb?”, and so on. You can imagine what kinds of words a bunch of kids would fill in the blanks when adults aren’t present, and you can also imagine the kind of hilarity that ensues when the person holding the story would read it out loud. A tame version might be something like:

When we look up into the sky on a SMELLY summer night, we see millions of tiny spots of light. Each one represents a SIAMESE CAT which is the center of a PURPLE POLKA-DOTTED solar system with dozens of CHOCOLATE CAKE DONUTS revolving IRONICALLY around a distant sun.

The problem with the original/paper version of the game was that whoever was calling out for words was reading the story while they called out for words! The surprise was ruined for them. And even with pencil and eraser it was hard to re-use a story more than a few times.

At some point we got an Atari 800, and we decided to write a Mad Lib program in BASIC. The program basically just concatenated a bunch of strings, and the stories (initially just three, if memory serves) were hard-coded but randomized. When the program was run it would just spit out: “noun:” and wait for the word to be entered. Once submitted, it prompted for the next word, and so on until it had all of the variables it needed and could construct the story. What was beautiful about the BASIC program is that we didn’t know which story we were entering words for, so all of us could be surprised and delighted together.

Quite a few years have passed since that first collaboration, and technology continues to evolve by leaps and bounds. I’m not writing code that surprises and delights me on a daily basis, but I am definitely inspired and awed regularly by what we’re able to achieve so easily, and how rapidly the tools are evolving.

When we develop web applications or other programs we are engaging in activities that make humans really amazing. Not only are we making things work better (and entertain us more!), we are leveraging the work of others in the extreme. In Drupal our work is building on top of decades of knowledge - web technologies, the internet, computers and on down the line of human knowledge. We are learning from and working with each other to take things to the next level, something that is palpable and inspiring on pretty much a daily basis.

Coding and development is about workflow, collaboration, learning from others, assisting others; more than just crafting code. The Coding and Dev track description has a list of suggestions to start the conversation, but please don’t feel constrained by those examples! If none of those resonate with you, there’s always the second-to-last item: Anything innovative, interesting, exciting, or useful that we haven’t listed! Did you write something that surprises and delights you? Did you figure out a way of doing something that nobody has done before? Did you leverage somebody else’s work in a way that takes things to the next level?

Feel free to reach out to us with any questions: Jon Peck, Mike Nielson, or me (Rebecca Bartlett).

Submit a Session

Rebecca Bartlett
Coding and Development Track Chair
DrupalCon Baltimore