Just got back from WordCamp Atlanta. If you use WordPress on a regular basis, which most people reading this blog do, then you should definitely take the time to check out one of these events. If there is a WordCamp going on anywhere within driving distance I would even say it is a MUST. I’ve been working with WordPress for almost 3 years now and have been an active plugin developer for about a year, and I had a year of basic on-and-off plugin hacking experience (mostly done incorrectly) before that. I’m not a newb, but as I figured and subsequently PROVED over the past 48 hours… I don’t know even HALF of the WordPress universe.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not like I”m completely lost and mostly clueless when it comes to WordPress related knowledge. The conference wasn’t all experts and hackers and that sort of thing. In fact, quite the opposite. There were a bunch of people just getting into or learning WordPress for the first time. There was a track for designers and a track for content producers. Not all of those areas are tech-geek experts-only. Most go over the real power of WordPress, bringing useful content to the world in a simple fashion. However, just over-hearing some of the other tracks and discussions that were going on between sessions, there is a LOT more to producing USEFUL and readable content on the Interwebs.
Thus, as part of the big picture, I found myself in an odd place. In some conversations or sessions I felt like an expert. It was great knowing “yup, I do that… yes… do that to. Sure did know about that super-cool methodology.” And yes, that was even in some of the development track sessions NOT just the “introduction to WordPress” sessions. I actually had some useful input on a couple of sessions even. Go figure. However, in other sessions, usually within 60 minutes of feeling “oh so smart”, I’d be 5 minutes in thinking to myself “HOLY CRAP… I never knew that!” or “wow, that IS and awesome trick THANK YOU!”. In fact I have a half-dozen tools I am going to install and play with and another half-dozen things I am going to change, update, or integrate into my own plugins.
At the end of the two-day trip I got out of WordCamp exactly what I was hoping to. I made new business connections, hopefully some new friends, and actually learned a thing or two. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve been to a lot of conferences. I’ve been on a lot of business trips. I’ve even been a keynote or session presenter on more than one occasion. However this is the FIRST conference where I made MULTIPLE connections that will prove useful in the future. It is also the ONLY conference where I was both able to make those types of connections AND learn something at the same time.
Maybe it was because I wasn’t sweating the details of my own presentation so I could enjoy myself a bit more than usual, but I don’t think so. I think it had a lot more to do with how well run and professional the conference was. It also has a lot to do with the WordPress community. The very foundation of WordPress sets the tone for open collaboration for the good of the community as a whole. It promotes success and encourages the individual entrepreneurial spirit AND manages to steer clear of the typical dogma of big business which is “lock everything down and hide the key”, ensuring that open collaboration is stifled.
Thank you to the people behind WordCamp Atlanta 2013 for making an enjoyable and educational venue and thank you to Matt & the hundreds of people involved bringing WordPress to the world. It has changed my life for the better and I am truly thankful to those that paved the way to make it all possible!