This blog post was originally posted to my blog at Mediacurrent. It appeared on Drupal Planet.
I got involved with Drupal in 2007 when I decided I wanted to build an online community of young people interested in politics in order to encourage their interest and activism. I was in way over my head; I had dabbled with a number of desktop programming languages, but I had never built a website. I got my first hosting account on my dad's recommendation, and it came with an installer for a large number of open-source software in a variety of categories. I researched each one, and it ultimately came down to Drupal or Joomla! as the only options that could potentially fulfill my vision of vibrant forums, in-depth blogs, stunning image galleries, relevant news, timely events, thorough user profiles, and close-knit groups. I ended up choosing Drupal 5 mainly because, as someone who had no idea what a CMS was, Drupal.org actually explained what Drupal was supposed to do for me. I was also put off by the number of paid add-ons for Joomla!, as my budget was zero.
UPDATE: I gave an updated version of this presentation to the Atlanta Drupal User Group. You can get the newer slides here.
I gave a presentation on Social Networking at DrupalCamp South Carolina on June 13th, 2010 (hosted by the SouthEast LinuxFest). Here are the slides I presented (complete with my notes on them) in various formats, as well as a link to the demo site (feel free to play around) and the downloadable Feature I exported based on the demo site.
In my humble opinion, the most crippling problem with building complex social websites in Drupal is the frustrating inability of most modules to work together nicely with user relationship modules, as well as the near total lack of support for any kind of individual, user-controlled privacy settings. I'm not exempting my own modules from this: my Facebook-style Statuses module has an architecture that inconveniently prevents it from working as well with user relationship modules as I would like.
As the maintainer of the Facebook-style Statuses module for the Drupal content management system, I like to read around the web and see what kinds of statistics and innovations I can find on comparable systems. This week, there was a gold mine that indicates that the "status movement" is going to grow its already expansive online presence exponentially.