For a couple of years at the Internet Librarian conferences, some audiences have heard repeatedly a narrative that corresponds roughly to Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with a Thousand Faces. A library team, faced with recalcitrant adminstrators and skeptical colleagues, sets off, after producing the requisite usability studies that always seem to correspond magically to the team’s vision, to bring back the boon for the library. In this genre of presentation, the boon can be found in Open Sourceville, on the other side of Scylla and Charybdis, and just to the right of Careeristan.
The genre allows almost any library team presenting at IL to be parachuted into the story. Remember, the heroes have a thousand faces. The one the other day happened to be a team from the University of Michigan, if I recall (“Designing for Content-Rich Sites”). In this genre, library teams change, but an unusually consistent element appears on the horizon, and its appearance seems more than a coincidence. Of all the treasures available in Open Sourceville, the teams always seem to wander into the suburb marked Drupal. What about Plone? What about Typo3? I will not mention OpenCms, in order to practice preterition. Should we wonder about the conference organizers’ possible hidden preference for Drupal? Is it fair that one open source CMS receives so much publicity at IL conferences? Does that not run counter to the spirit of open sourceness? Umberto Eco counts as one of many people who have directed our attention to the religious fervor attached to these technological preferences, and I have witnessed people so possessed by their particular piece of hardware or software that I could picture the disciples burning at the stake non-believers in the disciples’ beloved piece of hardware or software.
Good people, one and all, on the panel for “Designing for Content-Rich Sites,” and they kept me awake beyond Paul Holdengraber’s 10-minute window, mentioned during his interview Tuesday morning. The question remains: Do we need to hear the Drupal story again, or the one about a library redesign team’s victories over the forces of evil and technophobia? I urge the conference organizers to become more catholic (note lower case “c”) in their publicity of open source products.