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They Cannot Be Talking About Me, Can They? Learn from Martha and Her Friends

2024---JCM-martha-and-friends

In a world where digital landscapes are ever-evolving, it's easy to take the thriving communities within them for granted. But what happens when we neglect the very foundations that sustain us? Just as the once-abundant passenger pigeons vanished from our skies, the vibrant Joomla community risks fading into obscurity without our collective vigilance and support. As I shared at JoomlaDays NL 2024, the story of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, is a powerful reminder of our shared responsibility. Every one of us can play a crucial role in ensuring Joomla’s enduring success.

JoomlaDays NL in Tilburg

On Saturday, 1st June, at JoomlaDays NL, I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation titled "They Cannot Be Talking About Me, Can They? Learn from Martha and Her Friends." As the Vice President of OSM, I shared insights from my roles within Joomla, my passion for real ale, juggling, unicycling, and my life with numerous cats.

The opportunity to deliver the talk came about due to the President, Crystal Dionysopoulos not being well enough to travel and needing rest. As Vice President, I was the obvious stand-in. On past performance (I left my laptop and both my talks at home the last time I was asked to attend JDays Netherlands) I was not so sure and decided virtual rather than personal at such short notice would at least ensure I had my laptop with me!

Martha: A Lesson from History

Let us delve into the poignant story of Martha and her significant place in history.

Martha was one of the billions of passenger pigeons that once graced the skies of North America. These birds were so numerous that their flocks would blot out the sun for hours as they passed overhead, a testament to their vast population. It was unimaginable to think that such an abundant species could ever face extinction. The passenger pigeon was an integral part of the ecosystem, a ubiquitous presence that people believed would endure forever.

However, the reality proved starkly different. The seemingly endless flocks of passenger pigeons began to dwindle at an alarming rate due to rampant hunting and widespread habitat destruction. The birds were hunted on an industrial scale for their meat, which was a cheap source of protein, and their nesting grounds were destroyed to make way for expanding agricultural lands. This relentless exploitation continued unabated, and the passenger pigeon's numbers plunged precipitously.

Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, became an emblem of this tragic decline. She lived her final days in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo, where she died alone on 1st September 1914. Her death marked a sorrowful chapter in history as it signified the official extinction of a species that had once numbered in the billions. Today, Martha’s preserved body stands as a silent witness to the consequences of human actions at the Smithsonian Institution, serving as a stark reminder of the fragility of our natural world.

How Joomla can learn from Martha

The story of Martha is a poignant reminder of how even the most abundant and thriving communities can decline without proper care and attention. Just as the passenger pigeons were once numerous but are now extinct, we must be vigilant in nurturing our Joomla community.

At its peak, Joomla was a dominant force in the content management system (CMS) landscape. Launched in 2005, Joomla quickly gained traction due to its user-friendly interface, flexibility, and powerful features. By 2010, Joomla had been downloaded over 25 million times, reflecting its widespread adoption and popularity among developers, businesses, and non-profits worldwide. But this cannot be taken for granted, and with a shrinking community of active users, the burden falls on fewer and fewer shoulders. Those who benefit from Joomla would be sad to see it shrink further but often fail to see what they can do to help stabilise and grow the CMS.

Who is Looking After Joomla?

Open Source Matters, Inc. (OSM) supports the Joomla project by handling legal and administrative functions and holding trademark rights. However, OSM does not dictate Joomla's technical direction or its evolution as a CMS. Instead, it operates as a non-profit with a working board elected by its members - individuals who are part of a Joomla team. Currently, OSM consists of 83 voting members.

Securing Joomla’s Future

I want to reassure everyone not to panic; the future of Joomla is in our hands. There are numerous roles for volunteers, whether coders, designers, content creators, or administrators. 

Strategies for Growth

The OSM board has several ideas for achieving these goals:

  • Re-centering our goals and mission on the community.
  • Hosting a virtual world conference.
  • Creating new sponsorship packages.
  • Better integrating and simplifying our internal systems and processes.
  • Documenting our processes more effectively.
  • Empowering all contributor roles, not just OSM members, through initiatives like Holopin and connecting contributions across Joomla to volunteer profiles.

The Mutual Dependence

Many of us depend on Joomla financially. It’s important to remember that Joomla depends on us too. To give back to Joomla, I encourage you to get involved in the following ways:

  1. Join Mattermost (joom.la/chat) and introduce yourself. Mattermost is our community chat platform where you can connect with other Joomla enthusiasts, ask questions, and share your experiences. It's a great place to start if you're new to Joomla or if you want to become more active in the community.
    To join, create an account on the volunteer portal and then visit joom.la/chat.
  2. Talk to a volunteer, team lead, or board member. Our community is built on the efforts of dedicated volunteers who contribute their time and skills to make Joomla better. Whether you're interested in development, design, documentation, or support, there's a place for you.
    To learn more about the various teams and find contact information for team leads, visit the Joomla Volunteers Portal.
  3. Contribute financially via a community sponsorship. Your financial support helps keep Joomla free and accessible to everyone. Sponsorship funds go towards infrastructure costs, development, and community events.
    To become a sponsor or to learn more about how your contributions are used, visit the Joomla Sponsorship page.

Additionally, you can find more information and resources to help you get started or deepen your involvement with Joomla on the following pages:

  • Joomla Documentation: Comprehensive guides and tutorials to help you understand and use Joomla. Visit docs.joomla.org.
  • Joomla Community Magazine: Stay updated with the latest news, tips, and stories from the Joomla community. Visit magazine.joomla.org.
  • Joomla Extension Directory: Discover thousands of extensions to enhance your Joomla site. Visit extensions.joomla.org.
  • Joomla Developer Network: Resources and information for developers working with Joomla. Visit developer.joomla.org.
  • Joomla Developer Manual: Resources and information for developers building and maintaining Joomla extensions. Visit manual.joomla.org

Let’s not be a Martha; Joomla needs each and every one of us now. Every contribution counts, no matter how small. Don't underestimate the difference you can make.

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