Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Drupal Community Helpdesk at CoLab Orlando, First Fridays

Thu, 06/04/2009 - 04:20 -- rprice

12:00 - 1:30 PM, June 5th, July 3rd, August 7th, September 4th at CoLab Orlando

[caption id="attachment_760" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="It might look something like this"]It might look something like this[/caption]

A few months ago, I attended my first DrupalCon, and what an explosion of open source community awesomeness it was. As Mike and I are running a fledging Drupal shop, I was subconsciously looking for a shop I could use as a signpost, a group whose values and practices were in line with where I would like to be in a few years. I met the fine guys and gal from Advantage Labs in Minneapolis/St Paul, and was introduced to some of the awesome stuff they do.

One really great thing they offer in addition to web hosting, consulting and training is what they call Lab Hours. Twice a week, anyone experiencing a hang-up in their site, or just folks who are interested in helping, come by their offices for some roundtable support time. A goal is set to accomplish a certain task at the end of 2 hours, everyone pairs off and work commences.

There is no "expert" in the room doing all of the work. It's roundtable style, and that's how it should be.

This is pretty much a direct physical manifestation of the kind of help you get in #drupal-support in IRC. I have helped out there a bunch, and then having heard about this concept, I decided Orlando could use some community helpdesk time as well.

Starting with the first Friday of the month, I'll start hosting Lab Hours of my own here in Orlando. If you've attended DrupalCamp Florida or a Drupal Meetup, if you've attended one of our DrupalEasy training days or webinars, or if you're just curious about learning how to use this open source content management system, you're welcome to come by and share.

If nobody shows up, I'm going to open up IRC and help people in other parts of the world. I also intend to show everyone where they can go and get more help outside of helpdesk time.

CoLab is Orlando's first and only coworking space, on the 6th floor of the Angebuilt building, 37 N. Orange Ave. It's right at the corner of Wall St and Orange Ave, above Subway. It's the perfect place to host an event of this kind.


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Thanks, Ryan, for the reference and links to our site and our Lab Hours. It's great to see that you are doing a version of this idea in Orlando.

I think the IRC aspect really opens things up. We've thought about doing this, a "virtual Lab Hours" addition to the in-person session, but we haven't taken the plunge yet.

We are test-driving the concept, though, with scheduled IRC hours in #drupal-geo from 10-11AM Central throughout June as part of our Geo June initiative: It's going fairly well so far.

The co-working space sounds like the perfect place for this. Do you know about Brian Russell, @brianr on Twitter, is a good friend. You should have your Orlando space hook up with them.

Anyhow, have a great session tomorrow. Maybe I'll lurk on IRC to see how things are going (what channel?). Let's compare notes and help develop some best-practices around the roundtable session model.

Thanks, again. Hope we meetup sometime soon.


I ended up doing some chat-based support with a guy (Gil) who lives a little too far out of town to make it down there. Turns out both Gil and one of the people in the room (Zach) were having a similar problem, in that they didn't quite grasp the proper use of nodereference fields.

Now I'm writing a nodereference article for my DrupalEasy blog, and we'll probably do a couple of quicktips about it as well.