Meet Paul Orwig: An Interview with the New OSM President
Last week, Open Source Matters welcomed Paul Orwig as the organization’s new President. With years of experience under his belt including stints as Webmaster for the Joomla! Community Portal, lead editor for the Joomla! Community Magazine, and co-manager of the Joomla! Extensions Directory, the new OSM President has an abundance of knowledge to help serve the community efficiently and effectively.
Orwig’s path to OSM President began nearly 20 years ago after earning a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Denver. From there, the resident of Colorado spent time managing the consumer ISP web portal for a major phone company that was later acquired by Qwest. But it was his involvement with his son’s high school baseball team’s website nearly five years ago that introduced Orwig to the Joomla! world.
Get to know more about Orwig’s personal and professional background, the direction in which he believes Joomla! is currently heading, and the goals Orwig has set for himself as the new OSM President in his interview with JCM.
JCM: First things first, congratulations on becoming the new President of Open Source Matters.
Paul Orwig: Thanks a lot Gabe, both for those kind words and also for your willingness to serve the Joomla! community through your work on the Milwaukee JUG, here on the JCM, and in other ways too. Congratulations are also in order for OSM's new Vice President Jacques Rentzke and Secretary Alice Grevet.
I also want to thank former OSM President Ryan Ozimek for his willingness to continue serving on the OSM board of directors as Interim Treasurer until we can add a new Treasurer along with other potential new board members in April. Ryan has done an outstanding job the past two years as President, and I will do my best to try and continue moving things forward in a positive way.
JCM: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for an interview. We know you don't have much time with your new position.
PO: It's my pleasure, and thanks for your interest to talk to me. I appreciate this opportunity to share my thoughts about Joomla! and our community!
JCM: What motivates you to volunteer so much of your time to Joomla!?
PO: I am drawn to the ideal of a project that is powered by a community of volunteers from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds and skill levels, who are all working together to help create, share, extend, and support what has become one of the most popular free open source CMS in the world. I want to be a part of that kind of project and a member of that kind of community, and I want to do whatever I can to help and support them.
JCM: What motivated you to run for OSM President?
PO: When former OSM President Ryan Ozimek announced he would step aside at the end of his term, I decided I would be proud to serve as the next President if I was given that opportunity. Our project has accomplished a lot, but I think we have some opportunities to improve. As OSM President, I hope I can help our project and our community can move closer to reaching our potential.
JCM: How has being involved with OSM, the CLT and JCM helped you grow as person and a leader?
PO: Each of those roles has presented some different challenges as well as lots of opportunities for personal growth. I think that applies to everyone in all volunteer roles, and it is ultimately one of the most valuable rewards that people receive as a result of contributing in a project such as ours.
Working in our volunteer environment can be a real leadership challenge. I have learned to value diversity, and that it’s usually better to allow discussions to run their course instead of trying to solve everything as quickly as possible. I think I am becoming better at listening, and at being more patient and flexible. I have made many mistakes but I hope I am learning from them.
JCM: How will becoming president change your roles with the CLT and JCM?
PO: That’s easy - I won’t be in either of those other two roles! I actually stepped aside from the CLT effective the end of 2011, and after becoming the new OSM President in February I will step aside from the JCM after we launch the next issue on March 1. Being OSM President is a big challenge and responsibility, and I want to give it my full focus so I can serve our project and our community effectively as possible.
JCM: Previous president Ryan Ozimek was fortunate to be able to do a lot of traveling and visiting Joomla! Days all over the world. Are you planning on traveling as much as Ryan did?
PO: Getting to meet with members of the community is really important, and that is one of the areas where Ryan has done an incredible job. I definitely want to meet with as many members of our community as I can. The nature of my work makes it a challenge for me to match Ryan’s extensive travel schedule. So I will plan on travelling as much as I can, and I also hope we can create a process that will make it easier for more Joomla! leadership team members to get opportunities to travel and meet with members of our community.
JCM: Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2012?
PO: As of now, in 2012 I plan to go to Joomla! Day New England in Vermont in March, JandBeyond in Germany in May, and the Joomla! World Conference in California in November. I have also accepted invitations to go to Joomla! Day Mexico in June and Joomla! Day Poland in September. I hope to be able to go to more Joomla! events and conferences as the year unfolds.
JCM: What are the top 3 goals you hope to accomplish while president of OSM?
PO: Support leadership structure changes to improve collaboration and productivity, establish a collaborative process with all leadership teams to set major project-wide goals, and improve OSM’s openness and transparency.
JCM: You’ve seen Joomla! change over the past half-decade, where do you see Joomla! in the next 2 years? 4 years?
PO: In the next two years, I think we will see major user experience (UX) improvements that will help the Joomla! CMS become more popular. We will also see better support for mobile devices. I think that the Unified Content Model (UCM) will be added to the Joomla! Platform, and that will lead to more innovation in the Joomla! CMS as well. I think features such as content versioning will be added that are of interest to larger organizations. I think the working group concept that the Production Leadership Team (PLT) has adopted will be a good incubator for getting more advanced features developed and added to Joomla!.
As Joomla! continues to grow, I think we will see distributions begin to emerge that are optimized for different users and vertical markets. I hope that some improvements in the Joomla! Extension Directory (JED) can be implemented, such as adding automated checks for newly submitted extensions, and adding more content to help extension developers follow best coding practices. I would love to see a solution developed that would allow users to search for, install, and upgrade extensions all without having to leave the Joomla! backend.
Implementing initiatives and growth like that will be a lot of work, but I think we need to be ready and willing to take all that on, and more, if we want Joomla! to remain at the forefront of open source innovation. I believe making some changes to our current leadership structure will allow us to plan better, communicate better, collaborate better, and be more productive, and that will be an important step in putting us on a path to longer term growth and success.
If we can do all of that, then in four years I think Joomla! will still be one of the world’s leading free open source CMS, but it will also be seen as the foundation for a set of robust distributions, the home of an innovative application framework, with vibrant and passionate community that more and more people will be drawn to join and contribute to.
JCM: What makes Joomla! such a successful solution for so many diverse groups of people?
PO: I think what makes Joomla! such a successful solution for so many different types of users is its balance of a huge range of features combined with ease of use. Between the Joomla! core and all of the available extensions, Joomla! can be used to create and manage pretty much any type of website. And all of that power and flexibility comes with a relatively short learning curve for users who enjoy learning new things and aren’t too intimidated by technology.
JCM: What is your favorite Joomla! extension and why?
PO: With all of the great extensions we have to choose from, I don’t think I could pick out just one of them as my favorite! One of Joomla’s greatest strengths is the great variety of extensions that so many bright and generous members of our community create and share under the terms of the GPL license.
JCM: What types of activities do you enjoy outside of the Joomla! world?
PO: The main activities I enjoy now are hanging out with my Siberian Husky and nature and wildlife photography. I also enjoy reading, woodworking, and trying to keep my houseplants alive. I live in Colorado and I have done a lot of hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, and snowboarding. I got started with a little gardening last year, but I think I may end up having to give that up this year depending on how much travelling I do for Joomla!
JCM: Where is the first place you are going to fly the OSM presidential jet?
PO: Well before I can fly anywhere I have to get the keys back from Ryan, and I have a hunch that may not be so easy. There is nothing mentioned in the OSM bylaws about a transition plan for the jet.
Once I finally get the keys to the jet, the first place I am going to fly to will be Fiji (with a planned stop in the Netherlands to refuel and stock up on stroopwafels). I don’t think there is an established Joomla! community on Fiji, and I want to change that. I would even be willing to remain on Fiji as long as it takes in order to make sure their Joomla! community becomes really strong and firmly established.