The web has completely changed since its birth, 25 years ago. It has changed from a small niche group of users to a global user base in just a few years. Out have sprung the giants of Tech and the tools to produce and manage ever more content online. Over that time the ecosphere of web creation tools has changed. For example the advent of mobile phones has forced us to change the way we build our websites. Joomla has also had to evolve over the years to stay alive. Even a strong community and good quality code is not enough to keep your place in this competitive world.
In 2014 I decided to help Joomla with the skills I had at hand. I became involved in many different projects. I got the chance to participate in several international meetings. Each of these meetings gave me the opportunity to get to know and exchange ideas with exceptional people from all over the world. Many have become my friends.
Today, I consider the Joomla community as my second family.
During these meetings, I have noticed the passion in the volunteers and the users to help our CMS progress. All of them are motivated by the same desire to see Joomla keep on growing thanks to the work of the enthusiastic teams and aided by its undeniable technical qualities.
As a result of this I tried to imagine how and what would significantly increase the number of Joomla users around the world.
It's because of this vision and passion, that I agreed to be a candidate for the position of vice-president of Open Source Matters. Now I am elected, it's time for me to highlight these projects and put them into action.
How can we make it better?
As we do not have millions to "buy market share" (and it's clearly not our plan), we must find alternative and universal solutions applicable everywhere to ensure our growth.
Project 1 - Joomla for All
In November 2014, I saw a Tweet that surprised me. It was about a very original project for the reintegration of prisoners led by the State of California. A collaboration between an association and a private company.
#CDCR, @CAL_PIA, @TLM, @HackReactor bring #tech education to #inmates in #SanQuentin. @CBSSF: http://t.co/5naeOzMhr7 pic.twitter.com/0qp5LjPnP2
— CA Corrections (@CACorrections) 14 novembre 2014
This reintegration program allows some volunteer prisoners in San Quentin prison, California to learn to code without having access to the Internet. This unusual story is told in an article published on the CBS San Francisco blog and a few days later on the Wall Street Journal site. The articles show how credible the project is.
Slowly, I tell myself that it would probably be possible to teach prisoners how to create a website with Joomla!
Pushing this reasoning further, I realized that there is unfortunately a large part of the world’s population (retired, unemployed, students and prisoners for example) who might like to build their own website. Web agencies and freelancers like me prefer to work with those who can afford our services, which is normal, but some groups might find it hard to justify the costs involved.
In France alone there is the potential for 21 million people. Of course not all will want to, but that's still going to be a sizable number. How many are there in your country who might like to take part?
And this is where you, the Joomla community, come in. Joomla is nothing without its community.
In France (as in many others countries), there are many local, regional and national associations for the retired, unemployed or students. Each Joomla User Group can contact these associations at a local level and offer to train their members to "Create a website with Joomla". Besides making our CMS more popular, it would also increase the number of people participating in the JUGs meetings.
What do we need to create a website with Joomla ?
- A computer
- A server
- And Joomla!
Since there is no question of giving or buying computers for the beneficiaries of this program, it is therefore necessary to find them at a low cost. And it is possible!
The financial sector (banks, mutual and insurance companies) consumes a lot of IT equipment. In general, these companies renew their fleet very regularly (less than 5 years) for reasons of accounting depreciation. Why not ask them to provide us with second-hand computers in the form of sponsorship? Helping people in difficulty, this will also be good for their brand image.
The latest version of Joomla could be given on a Joomla branded USB stick and provided by OSM :)
Now, we have the equipment and established contacts with local associations. It only remains to train the trainers (the administrator certification is a perfect lever for that) and to create a training course adapted to each audience / country.
We may not have 21 million French Joomlers tomorrow thanks to this program, a few hundred thousand would already be a success. But if we duplicate it in many countries, we would be able to start a dynamic movement. "Small streams make big rivers".
I've presented this project in a "Make it Happen" session at JaB 2016 in Barcelona, during JoomlaDays (France and UK) in 2017 and during the Joomla World Conference 2017 in Rome.
The team responsible for this project will prepare all the materials. The JUGs may need to start to “Spread the Joomla Love”. If you want to get involved, feel free to contact me.
Project 2 - JoomlAfrica
Participating at CMS Africa 2018 in Kigali (Rwanda), I was able to see firsthand how the African continent abounds in web talent. It's also a continent of strong contrasts and disparities where women often occupy a marginal place.
Thanks to some people I met during this event, I discovered the existence of a Swiss non-governmental organization which campaigns to improve the financial independence of African women. The patriarchal model is a huge obstacle for millions of women and this is where Joomla can provide a simple answer to a complex problem: Providing access to the web and helping women to generate their own incomes.
To enable these millions of women to access the web, they must be able to use a tool that is free, modern, multilingual, and available everywhere and all the time. Joomla perfectly meets all of these requirements.
To enable them to generate incomes and gain their financial independence requires training and support. Contrary to what one would suppose, it is far from insurmountable or impossible. Today there are a thousand and one ways to make money honestly online. Among the most common are:
- Selling goods
- Selling services
- Multi-level marketing
Unity is strength
To make this project a real success on the African continent, it's essential to:
- Build a team of volunteers to lead this project with me. Several very motivated Joomlers have already joined me and others will follow in the coming days. If you would like to help us and would like to participate in this project, please don't hesitate to contact me.
- Disseminate and publicize this project on the African continent. Several important conferences have already been identified. These will help to promote the project as wide as possible, to establish local contacts and structures.
- Building strong local networks of volunteers whose mission will be to train and support people. Because nobody will ever be better placed than a local to do it. Once again it is by relying on the power of the JUGs network that we can achieve this. Today, the African continent has less than 15 Joomla User Groups. This figure highlights the weakness of our efforts towards the African continent. However, the JoomlAfrica project can start by liaising with this embryonic network to improve our efforts and to spread far and wide.
With regard to helping and accompanying the current and future African JUGs in their functioning and their development, we can also base ourselves on the excellent principle of mentoring illustrated by GSoC. Imagine how effective this would be if each European, Asian or American JUG sponsors (like a twinning) an African JUG for this project.
- Distribute a training program to the JUGS and the local structures. This program will be created by the team in charge of this project and will be available to the African Joomla User Groups in these languages first: English and French. If we have enough volunteers, this program could also be translated and available in Arabic and Swahili.
- Raise enough funds so that this project is 100% self-sufficient compared to the OSM budget. My first estimates show an operating budget of $50,000 per year. I have already identified several possible sources of sponsorship to support this. The more funds we have, the more we can be present and have a positive impact in Africa. If you want to sponsor this project or if you know some companies or organizations who would be willing to do so, please contact me directly.
As it's nearly impossible to prioritize a project on the other, I will support them both in the interest of Joomla. These projects will need volunteers and funds to work. We have motivated volunteers, many Joomla User Groups who can be mobilized for this and an exceptional opportunity with the release of Joomla 4: it's time to move.
If you love Joomla, if you want to get involved in one or both of these projects, if you think you have skills and / or contacts that could be useful, you are more than welcome. We will only get there together.