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WordCamp San Francisco 2014 – Wrapups and Photos

Still recovering (in a mostly good way) from WordCamp San Francisco 2014 that was held on October 25th and the 26th, and also the Community Summit held on the 27th. I might have some thoughts about specific things from the event, but I figured I would list some general overall write ups from those that attended (in addition so some of the photos I took).

If you have a writeup, please let me know (ping me on Twitter or leave a comment) and i’ll gladly add it.

WordCamp San Francisco 2014 Rocked My Socks – Scott Werley
After Action Report: WordCamp San Francisco 2014 – Dan Griffiths
What It Was, What It Is Now, What It Will Be: The State of WordPress – KOGA Hiromichi
Highlights From WordCamp San Francisco 2014 – Marie Dodson (torquemag.io)
A Quick Overview of WordCamp SF 2014 – Mark Zahra (wpmayor.com)
WordPress Weekly Wrapup
Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word Highlights Internationalization, Mobile, and New Tools for WordPress Contributors – WPTavern
Matt Mullenweg’s 2014 State of the Word – Postat.us

 

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2014-05-10 10.54.39

Social Networking At WordCamps

As WordCamp San Francisco breaks over the horizon, there have been some re-mentions of how to get the most of it and references to other similar helpful posts (here’s a nice collection). Social Media obviously plays a big part at a tech conference like this. Everyone is going to rightful share their thoughts, experiences, and good times. If you are going to be physically at the conference, you have the Yoda-like wisdom of “put down the laptop, meet people face to face”. Great advice, but realistically many will want to share their experiences via Twitter, Facebook, and Ello (ha! just kidding).

There’s a balance involved. I don’t believe in “leaving your laptop” or “free yourself from your tech” (and granted this might work for some people)… BUT I also don’t believe you should be tweeting everything either, especially if you are missing from the larger experience. Once again, balance – am i right? Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned myself that I thought I was pass on:

Don’t overload.

Unless you are a media source, focus should be sharing points and notes important to you. If you use a physical notebook or Google doc to keep notes, that’s a good thing. I personally use Twitter a bit as my notes. The primary benefit is for me (hence why I don’t worry or care about if someone unfollows, blocks, bans, etc. In fact, I don’t understand how I have more than a few followers when I do “live tweet” conferences. I would think people wouldn’t want that in their stream constantly).

So don’t try to cover all the points of a speaker, or you risk missing information. Slides and videos are available afterwards, and you don’t want to be stressed out typing and not paying at least some attention. Tweet like you would taking notes for a class – keep a balance.

Don’t “hashtag spam” a conference.

Just don’t. If you are an actual sponsor, then checking with the conference organizers first is a good idea. Take it from a conference organizer, promoting discounts, products, services (whether you’re at the conference or not) with the official hashtag is bad form.

Don’t be a disruption.

Using a laptop can sometimes be distracting, especially if it’s a large laptop you are balancing in your lap and you’re a loud typer. Be aware of the environment you’re in. If you think you “stick out” then try to keep a low profile. You shouldn’t be unnecessarily distracting anyone in the audience or the speaker. This is such a common and “not realize you are attracting a little attention” thing, that I can easily see how this results in a “don’t bring your laptop” suggestion. Sometimes switching to a mobile device works better, like a phone in your lap.

You have every right to have an electronic device at a session (unless the conference rules say otherwise) but it’s important to be discreet. If you feel like that’s a challenge, sit in a location in the room where that would be easier (like in the back or off to the side).

On a similar note, make sure your mobile device or laptop sound is muted. Sometimes I shut off the vibrate on my phone if the room is particularly quiet.

Know When To Listen

While you have a right to use devices, it’s still important to use a little observational sense to know when to put away the laptop and devices. For me, Matt’s “State of the Word” talks at WordCamp San Francisco are special times for me to keep things to a minimum and at least try to enjoy being there in person for the information he delivers.

Be Physically Social

Don’t forget to by physically social, to whatever degree you can. Keep notes and taking pictures is great, but likely you are attending a conference that is costing you time and money. Memories and “feelings” of a conference last longer than tweets, documents, and photos. And in the end, they are more important.

Balance is the key. See you in San Fran.

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2014-10-04 09.22.13

Ultimate Guides For Attending WordCamps

I’ve written some thoughts on organizing WordCamps. I’m not the first. But what’s more common are posts and guides for those attending WordCamps and getting the most out of them – some focusing those brand new to WordCamps, and others that provide good reminders for new and regular Campers. So i’ve put together a list of what i’ve seen recently and others are older articles that i thought were worthy of mentioning. Keep in mind these are more WordCamp-centric as there are a TON of general “what to get out of general conference” posts out there, many easy to find.

What To Expect From Your First WordCamp
Make the Most of a WordCamp: Tips for Success
How to Survive WordCamp: a Guide for n00bs
How to make the most of a WordCamp? Based on WC Phoenix 2014
Making The Most Out Of WordCamps
WPCandy’s take on getting the most from WordCamps
Getting The Most Out Of WordCamps
Of course, there’s always the WordCamp Central “What To Expect” article.

There are a few more, but they tend to repeat anything mentioned in the above. In fact, the above articles tend to overlap a bit but each one is worth mentioning for it’s approach and mentioning a point or two that the others don’t. But you couldn’t go wrong if you randomly picked one or two if you couldn’t read them all.

Of course, there are many things in What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Go To WCSF that could apply to almost any WordCamp.

If you spot a unique one, let me know in the comments and i’ll add it to the list.

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2014-10-06 08.58.17

What I Thought Of WordCamp Tampa 2014

This weekend i attended the inaugural WordCamp Tampa. As an attendee and a speaker, I had a fantastic time. I know several others have written (or in the process of writing) recaps of the weekend but I wanted to briefly give my spin of things through the eyes of a WordCamp organizer. I’m in no way an expert on running WordCamps, but since i was there and attending an inaugural WordCamp is a “unicorn event” for a WordCamp organizer, I couldn’t pass up the chance to put some of my thoughts in writing.

The Size

2014-10-04 07.51.36I liked how WCTPA didn’t try to go “too big” for their first event. Understandably recognizing that the first WordCamp you do is really a trial run for the SECOND (what I like to call “the first real one”) WordCamp, they kept attendance in the mid-200s. They had a good ratio of people who signed up and showed up vs. people who didn’t (i’m open to correction, but it looked like there was only about 15 badges not claimed by Sunday). I truly believe that the average attendee gets a difference experience from WordCamps that have 0-300 attendees, 300-600, and 600+ (I speak from experience that from an organizer’s perspective each of these levels is another difficultly level of organization). I liked the fact that it was a two-day conference with two-tracks. This combined with the 200+ people really gave WCTPA a nice feel – rarely was it noisy at the venue, and you had the chance to talk on a personal level with the majority of people you wanted to talk to. It was a great size and I think fit well with Miami and Orlando’s upcoming conference (in December).

Food (Lunch/Breakfast)

Great food. Nothing fancy, which was fine. Options were simple and the lunch line seemed to serve the lunch crowd in about 10 minutes. They took into consideration those with vegan and gluton-free diets, which is a plus in my book (this is not something every WordCamp automatically does).

Speakers

I’m a bit biased here since I was a speaker (spoke on Saturday) but from what i saw I thought overall the speakers were excellent choices and covered a range I like to see in WordCamps. Meaning that I saw people (mostly local) that I never heard from before… and I saw people whom I was very familiar with. But i’m not the real demographic. WordCamps are local events, and by the looks and smiles on people’s faces about 95% of those local attendees appreciated Chris Lema and Syed Balkhi as they did any other speaker – everyone was fresh and new to them.

That being said, there were a few minor wrinkles I saw and heard from a few other attendees. But take it from a WordCamp organizer – you aren’t going please everyone when it comes to topics. The best thing you can do is set expectations so that the attendees know not only WHO is speaking on WHAT, but also who the talk is directed to (if it’s a talk in the development track, is it for advanced or beginning coders?). “Inspirational” talks are also difficult to convey properly to attendees before-hand – in fact, they are probably one of the most difficult types of talks to balance (as an organizer) at a WordCamp event.

Unfortunately there were technical issues with video and the livestream. These areas WordCamp Miami is *STILL* working on, so can’t be negative here. WCTPA was using new GoPro cameras, which is something i was very interested in and perhaps something WordCamp Miami will use in 2015.

BTW, the speaker dinner was very well done. It was in a restaurant but in a private room in the back. So a wide selection of food and focus on the speakers getting to know each other. WCTPA kept to the basics, and it paid off for everyone there.

WordCamp Tampa 2014 organizers
WordCamp Tampa 2014 organizers

Volunteers

For a first-time WordCamp, I must say I was impressed with the amount of happy cheerful volunteers that helped out on both days. Everything seemed to be well-organized. I feel like WordCamp Miami really didn’t hit it’s volunteer stride until our fourth event in 2013 (with last April – our fifth WordCamp Miami – being an extremely well-supported event). WCTPA seemed to do be at that level already.

Venue

Kesier University was a great venue and since WCTPA got it for free, it was a great value.

Overall, It Was A Wonderful Birth

And in case you are wondering, these are my honest and off the cuff remarks. WCTPA was not perfect – there are things they’ll be working on (both technical and not-so-technical). No WordCamp is perfect, so I won’t pretend to say everything was completely roses. But I know enough about Andrew Norcross and the other organizers that they appreciate real, honest-to-goodness feedback. I’ll let the WCTPA organizers communicate back their feedback once they gathered it all and reviewed it (I just filled out the post-WordCamp survey today).

See you next year in Tampa.

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