10gen, the purveyors of everyone's favorite document-oriented database MongoDB, recently held a gathering of developers, sysadmins, devops, and other parties interested in MongoDB in D.C. appropriately named MongoDC. I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak on how we use MongoDB here at Intridea, so I delivered a little treatise on one of our client projects. Although we've moved most of the project operations off of MongoDB now for a few reasons, working with such a deep and wide dataset was an interesting experience that a lot of people don't encounter when using document-oriented databases. (You can find my slides below)
MongoDC was one of the only non-Ruby conferences I've attended in the past few years. Actually, the only other one in recent memory has been the MySQL Conference and Expo, which created an interesting and stark contrast to how these companies and communities interact. At the MySQL conference, the conversations and gathering were largely dominated by vendors and enterprise software product pitches. The event felt rather out of touch and sterile to me, but that may have been attributed partially to it being a larger, O'Reilly-powered event and partially to the fact that I'm not really a "MySQL guy." On the other hand, the 10gen event felt warm from the second I walked through the door. A 10gen rep greeted me, attendees were having interesting conversations, and the whole day felt like people were excited and interested in the content.
I think 10gen has cultivated a great community of people interested in their products, but I do wonder how to get more people interested in contributing. Currently, the core server is built about 90% to 95% by 10gen's employees, which is not really how an open source company is supposed to work, right? But it seems like the contribution bug hasn't really caught on among those interested just yet. I attended a talk about contributing to MongoDB in various capacities and was joined by about 4 other people (including a 10gen employee). Given MongoDC was a 2 track event, that means people cared more about "neat tricks" with MongoDB than how to improve the core product. Sort of disappointing. This isn't to say that 10gen is doing a bad job at getting people excited (they're doing awesome), but I guess my question is this: how can those of us who are starting to contribute to MongoDB in meaningful ways get others as excited about it as people are about Rails or jQuery? Not sure there's a good answer at this point as 10gen's community stuff is still taking shape, but I'm very hopeful and interested to see how it shapes up.
I'll be speaking at another MongoDB event in Atlanta in February, and I hope to get a feel for why people aren't contributing more. Even if I don't, I'm still really looking forward to it! The event in D.C. was smashing, and from what I can tell, the other events 10gen has been putting on around the nation are just as good. If you're able to make it to any of these events, I heartily suggest you do so. It'll be worth your time!