Further highlights from my time at DrupalCon Dublin

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Sharon Jay

Thank you DrupalCon Europe for putting on a brilliant conference. I got a great deal out of attending this, my second DrupalCon Europe event. 

Last week I blogged on my highlights from day one and so I thought I’d go on to share a few more highlights from last week. And judging by the the conversations already taking place around the studio this week, I’m pretty sure others from our team will be taking the opportunity to share some of their conference take-aways.

Emer Coleman keynotes on Technoethics

Wednesday’s keynote by Emer Coleman was a real thought-provoker. Emer is an expert within the field of open data and she discussed how the software we create and so freely adopt is influencing and most worryingly, so easily shaping our society. In our code Emer argues, we are becoming social engineers.

This poses technoethical considerations that we must urgently consider, both as individuals and as organisations. As large organisations such as Facebook and Google continue to gain unprecedented knowledge and insight into our lives, knowledge that we are willingly giving up in return for free access to their services, we are feeding the system and real risks for our society exist.

Many users of the code we create won’t be considering the wider implications around their willingness to share quite so freely and as developers, we need to be constantly asking questions both of ourselves and the software that we create.

“We can do this but should we?” is the question Emer poses. New ways must be found to introduce better governance, protection of democratic processes and the importance of privacy for individuals. Therefore, normal ethical principles apply and Emer left us with key questions that we must ask ourselves of our work:

Consider broadly who is affected by your work
Treat human beings with due respect
Ask how the public, if reasonably informed, would view your decisions
Ask how the least empowered would be affected by your decisions

Emer Coleman - Abstract from the keynote slides at DrupalCon Dublin 2016.

As we digest the importance of these points, we can’t help but think of how this ties in with the point that Dries Buytaert made in his keynote about the importance of the open web.

Wednesday Keynote - Emer Coleman

Holacracy, does it work?

Tonio Zemp from Liip opened up his session on self-managed teams by making the point that his talk at Barcelona ‘Self-managing organisations: Teal is the new orange’ must have been of interest because he’d been invited back to provide an update on how things were going. He was right, it was inspiring to attend that session in Barcelona and it was great to have this opportunity to get an update on how things were sizing up with their self-management approaches.

Liip have a business structure that is nearly manager-free with a goal to make the hierarchy as ‘flat’ as possible. They’ve achieved this by adopting and personalising Holacracy as a framework for setting up their roles, expectations and disciplines.

Tonio talked us through the pro’s and con’s of becoming a self-organisation and about the process they undertook to get Holocracy up and running in their team. As you can imagine, such a transformation isn’t without its challenges and via training, workshops and inviting in external consultancy, Liip have been able to iron out many of the wrinkles.

It’s still early days for Liip but they are already a long way into making Holacracy work out for them and hearing this talk continues to inspire us as a small team to explore this topic.

Self managing organizations, Teal and Holacracy in practice - one year later

About Sharon:
I help identify and develop ideas and approaches to ensure that Five Mile continues to grow as a strong and ambitious digital agency passionate about user experience, open-source technology, community and culture. At Five Mile I take pride in ensuring that our talented and expert team deliver great digital experiences, create happy users and ultimately help businesses thrive.