I saw the importance of conference and meetup presentations very early in my career. At my first Drupal meetup I informally walked through the sites I had built in Drupal 5 and the guy sitting next to me offered me a job. That felt pretty good. A few months later, I felt way over my head presenting in the Advanced track at DrupalCamp Chicago 2008 on the same billing as major core contributors. Over the years I’ve evolved my approach to conference presentations to lean more on storytelling and the in-person medium. Especially in the pandemic times, gathering IRL calls for IRL modes of communicating. If I want a straight transmission of information, I’d rather watch a YouTube video at 2x speed.

Hierarchy of Needs

These presentations (one at WordCamp US and one as the DrupalCamp Belarus Keynote) take the idea of a website hierarchy of needs (servers at the bottom, conversions at the top) and lay it over a dramatized story of a web team recovering from a bumpy relaunch.

WordCamp US 2019: The Hierarchy of Needs for High-Performing Websites

DrupalCamp Belarus 2019 Keynote: We Make the Internet

Tool or Toy: Exploring the Internet of Things

I did an Ignite talk at DevOps days as Al Gore. And the joke was that it wasn’t a joke.

Faux Al Gore presenting at DevOps Days

Just as #DevOpsDays turn into DevOps Nights, so too does the pendulum of the technological zeitgeist swing back and forth between monolithic systems and distributed systems.

Faux Al Gore

The Cliff of Complexity

At GatsbyConf 2021 I wanted to highlight a pattern I observed in a lot of Static Site Generator projects. SSG can greatly simplify and speed up development workflows for some web teams and sites. This site you’re reading now has been an SSG a few different times over the years (Jekyll and Gatsby). But after crossing a threshold of one-too-many behavioral requirements, SSG projects can rocket from extraordinarily simple to extraordinarily complex. This presentation also featured my What Computer Assembles the Website question that I have since broken out into its own video with sticky notes and crayons.

Dan Polant and I presenting at GatsbyConf 2021

Automated Testing, Right Now

The Test-driven development dream feels out of reach for too many developers. This presentation suggests a handful of strategies for incrementally adopting automated tests instead of trying to make one jump from 0 to 100%.

Automated Testing, Right Now. Presented at Twin Cities DrupalCamp 2019

1,001 CI Builds: The Story of Drupal 7 to 8 Migration

Doing an exact replication of a Drupal 7 site in Drupal 8 (or 9 or 10) is a bad idea in most professional situations. I did it anyway because I was most interested in learning the internals of D8 (which was released two months after I switched jobs and got out of day to day web development). I wanted to stay sharp and I wanted to apply what I was learning about CI/CD. Hooking up CI/CD to a Drupal migration was a good idea.

Presented at DrupalCon Seattle in 2019

Why Your Site is Slow

Conway’s law says that “any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.” In this presentation and blog post I mapped how a broad set of website performance problems (caching, database queries, unaccountable 3rd party JavaScript files) all have roots in the team dynamics of those building and maintaining a site.

I presented this session about a dozen times in my first year working at Pantheon. Here's the recording from MidCamp 2016.

Rendering HTML with Drupal: Past, Present and Future

This analysis of shifting patterns in theming and site building in Drupal was the beginning of a trend that I continued after starting at Pantheon (shortly after, and partly because of, this presentation). I think we're most effective as web professionals when see the longer arc of that history.

Plinko, Mousetrap, and many other metaphors for rendering websites.