Adam takes a few minutes at BADCamp to explain about the world of open data and the amazing ways it can be used.  He dishes about CivicActions's recent acquisition of the DKAN Project, gives us a rundown on the Drupal community compared to other communities in the open data sphere, and gives us a hint of things to look out for if the internet goes down.  Hint, it involves coffee, beer, and delicious food.

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This Episode's Guest

Adam Bergstein

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Adam is passionate about solutions that connect people, technology, and solve problems. He is an Acquia Certified Grand Master and prolific Drupal contributor, primarily in backend development, DevOps, CI/CD, and security.

Transcript

Transcript

Chris Albrecht:
We're at BADCamp going behind the screens with Adam Bergstein otherwise known as "Nerdstein". How is it going Adam?
Adam Bergstein:
Good, thank you for chatting.
Chris Albrecht:
Thanks for taking the time. You're over at CivicActions actions. What do you guys have going on over there right now?
Adam Bergstein:
We're doing a lot of really interesting work right now. We actually just took over maintainership of the DKAN open data project. So, we have some new team members that have joined our team and we're looking to bring that ... reintegrate that into community. And do a lot of really cool things with open data. We're also doing auxiliary things that we're building really cool data visualization with React in dashboards and generally speaking we do a lot of other things they were pretty cool and exciting. A lot of dev-ops working on animated testing. A lot of security work that we're doing right now, it's pretty cool. So, finding exciting things all across the board.
Chris Albrecht:
Wow. That's quite the array. So, what do you have going on here at BADCamp? Are you guys doing any presentations or have booth setup?
Adam Bergstein:
Yeah. We're actually giving a presentation on DKAN and open data. That's why a lot of us are here. We have Stephanie and I, Elizabeth from CivicActions and we don't have a booth this year. But we're a sponsor just helping the cause because this is a great camp. A lot of awesome people comes, so we're really happy to be a part of it.
Chris Albrecht:
So, within all of that, tell me about one particular piece that you're really excited to be working on right now.
Adam Bergstein:
I think, for us it's really cool to start to the expanding the ecosystem of the technology landscape that we're using. The open data space hits on a lot of different angles and areas, like bringing in something like React and building a lot of cool data visualizations. But also there's like the storage aspects of it. Almost like the big data, NoSQL databases elastic search we could integrate with that and do all this other things. We're starting to really branch out in the all these really cool areas of different technologies that are integrating with Drupal. We're having Drupal push information or pull information and do things. It's really awesome. It's been helping us to ... We're doing a lot of cool innovative things and keep on top of technology landscape in general.
Chris Albrecht:
So, with the open data, is there a ... Give me an example of something that you built recently. Familiarize me a little bit more about what you get with open data.
Adam Bergstein:
Yeah. So, open data is actually a really great concept. I think it's sort of under-represented in the community right now. The whole purpose of it is really helping to promote and publish data in a public way and forward opportunities for people to collaborate around it. So if you think about transparency and citizen empowerment and doing scientific research, all these things are made possible when you have a system that has set of standard API's and standards that it's built around and meta-data and all this other things that ... and API's you can grab information from ... It's really great because then you can go and say "Alright, I wanna have this other research right over here wants to collaborate with me. All my data is public and they can go in and get all that information.". It's all set up in a conventional way that people know how to use and it's fun. And there's all these different standards.
A tool like Drupal is perfect because you can extend it modularly and use the hooks to actually be ... publishing the data in a certain way of someone wants it in one format or another format. It's a really great framework and enables all of these cool innovation and collaboration that isn't possible if everyone's doing their own thing.
Chris Albrecht:
Sure. And it kind of gets you away from just the Drupal mode too because you can plug it into these new third-party libraries and all that systems that we're using.
Adam Bergstein:
Exactly. ArcGIS, Tableau are all these data analysis tools, jupyternotebooks anything you can imagine ... Both you can do it from ... replace the storage aspects of it and have that are really PI heavy or you can do the consuming aspect of it where you could build a React dashboard or use a jupyternotebook, have a really great data story that talks about "Oh, I did this data analysis on this open data and here is all these really cool charts and here is some writing up about what we found and ..." Yeah, it just opens up all these opportunities and it's great for like research, it's great for governments that are trying to publish that data and let citizens see what they're doing and how things are working. A really cool example would be something like traffic. So, if you're sitting at a bus stop and you're waiting, you can use open data to be constantly collecting that data and then publish in a really cool and innovative way.
Chris Albrecht:
Oh, very cool. I can imagine just ... at the bus stop like you said. May be there's a map at the bus stop that tells you exactly where the train is or it's gonna be delayed because this data just came in showing an accident on tracks or something.
Adam Bergstein:
And because all of it's been stored persistently you can go back and then write reports and data analysis and say " Okay, five of days this year, we were late at our bus stop. So how can we ... What were the circumstances that led to that? How can we improve it?". You could be tracking things over time that would be really, really awesome.
Chris Albrecht:
That's pretty incredible. My wife's actually just gotten into a statistics program. So we finishing up at the end of the semester. And has gotten into the our community and started learning how to write code for these things. So, I've seen a little bit of ... I've been to one of the army ops and seen into these communities now. Do you have ... Have you been able to attend any community gatherings functions outside of just Drupal?
Adam Bergstein:
Absolutely. So, open data has a massive community around it and ... So, yeah there is conferences and events all the time in open data and there's all these auxiliary conferences and events as well that make use of open data technology like R, jupyter, ArcGIS. They have this really big followings and the open data aspects are right there with it. In like a nice presence in all of these types of spaces.
Chris Albrecht:
How would you compare the other communities that you've been able to be a part of with what you've been experiencing with the Drupal community?
Adam Bergstein:
I think, there's a lot of overlap, a lot of good energy, a lot of great people and I think that's one thing I love about the Drupal community. It's just how awesome the people are and seeing the same kind of energy and positivity in other spaces just doing ... solving may be slightly different problems or even similar problems but with different platforms and technologies. It's been great. I think, they're also different sizes. I think we're a big community. We're very large. I've been some of the other communities we've been seeing, are really just getting started. Some are pretty established but may be not quite as large as the Drupal community. But it's an evolving space, it's really growing and I think it's a big aciton worth rolled to be ... trying to bring that both into the Drupal community but also to help bring other communities and make have awareness of ... kind of bridging those communities together.
Chris Albrecht:
Yeah, very cool. So if somebody is interested in getting involved with the open data or they wanna set up some of this cool stuff and get started, what's one piece of advice you would give to somebody to get them going, get them off the ground?
Adam Bergstein:
Take a look at getdkan.org. That's one way of you can just get a real quick Drupal install set up and we have a lot of documentation online about how to build out data-sets. How to upload information, how to publish it. How to make use of the API's. How to make use of the standards that it provides. So, yeah. I would say it would be my recommendation. And there is also a Slack community for DKAN itself, d-k-a-n, you can go and from getdkan.org there is a link to join our slack. Hop in. Say "Hello" if you have any questions. We're happy to help out and I think it's a really fun and cool space to be in and touches a lot of different things, a lot of technology that people aren't really fully aware of yet.
Chris Albrecht:
Yeah, absolutely. The open data in itself ... I've learned a lot just from listening to what my wife's been telling me when she's getting into these programs. It is ... If you're looking for a job data analysis is a big one right now. That field is growing so fast and to see what we can do with it by combining it with what we know in Drupal. And to make web presences in ... out of this data now seems like a really exciting frontier to be on.
Adam Bergstein:
Yeah, we're very happy to be ... have some part of that and I'm really hoping that the community can start to also ... get involved, see the value in it. We want other people to be helping grow this because we're a community and we can all be solving good problems and helping each other out.
Chris Albrecht:
Yeah, excellent. Alright so, let's take it and flip it now. If, let's say, you woke up tomorrow and the internet had disappeared. The open data is gone. There's nothing to connect to. What do you do with your time? What is Adam's free-time like?
Adam Bergstein:
I'm such a ... I have a wonderful family and two beautiful children and a great wife and so ... I think my immediate response would be, "I would be spending a lot of great time with them.".But if I were to try to look for something else to invest my energy in, I'm a big coffee and craft beer snob and I love ... I'm a big foody.I would probably try to find some really cool,fun way to connect all of those things.
Chris Albrecht:
You start the first family-run brewery/coffee shop with gourmet food.
Adam Bergstein:
Yeah. Or maybe just create a food court and have different little ... Yeah, little parts to it ...
Chris Albrecht:
I liked that. I would definitely come visit that. That sounds like a good day.
Adam Bergstein:
Cool, you're welcome anytime if I do that.
Chris Albrecht:
Awesome. Alright, so I got two questions left. I always finish up with this one and then I've got a follow up though we might do a bonus episode with. So, final question. We all got here not on our own merits. We always ... There's always somebody you can lean on especially in this community. Is there somebody you would like to say "Thank you" to or share some gratitude with? Who maybe gave you a push or boost when you needed it.
Adam Bergstein:
Wow. There would be too many to name. I think that's probably ... That's such a hard question to answer. I think just ... because I also think we really undersell as a community. Some of like the soft skills and how to become a professional in this space and there's people that I think of not ... haven't invested in me not just technically but also more about helping me to be more well rounded in, understands people's needs and work as a professional in this space that I don't ... I just can't say enough about those people as well but ... Oh my God. Just... Yeah, there's definitely people I ... I don't even know where to start to answer that. I might have to write blog post just on that or ... probably be 30 pages long. So, I'm sorry.
Chris Albrecht:
No, no. Don't be sorry, that's a great answer. It's ... I get very similar answers from most people and it's hard like ... I should give you a little morning before I throw that one out. Because you have a little time to think about it.
Adam Bergstein:
That would be awesome.
Chris Albrecht:
Yeah, I'll remember that for the next one. I have the same thing in fact. Trying to pick one person out of the bunch because this community is just so largely supported and open to helping and you can ask your question anywhere.Someone will jump in and help, find the answer for you.
Adam Bergstein:
Yeah, I've been very lucky to work with just incredibly capable and highly talented teams ... both of my experiences at Acquia and at CivicActions, that I can't stress enough ... just people there are so brilliant. I'm very lucky. I've worked with some of the best people probably exist in the planet and they certainly helped me to ... Yeah.
Chris Albrecht:
It's pretty amazing feeling when your company helps make you a better person not just a better developer or employee. I feel the same way, working at Lullabot it's very humbling feeling.
Adam Bergstein:
It's. It's really ... I think one thing I've learned is just ... You really can't bring your ego. Every person that I've interacted with in my teams and everything, they're so talented and if everybody was just bring their ego forward, you would really limit your ability to truly grow and allow yourself to be consumed by all the awesomeness.
Chris Albrecht:
Alright, Adam thanks for taking a few minutes and this talk today. Really appreciated.
Adam Bergstein:
My pleasure. Yeah, happy to do it.

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About host Chris Albrecht

Chris Albrecht
His backend brings all the nerds to the code. Skilled in Drupal development and architecture, you can often find him running through the Colorado wilderness and hosting the Behind the Screens podcast.