As I’m writing this, I’m on my way back home from a short trip to Philadelphia. I got to attend the PostStatus Publish conference on December 1st, followed by three days of WordCamp US. This was my first opportunity to meet the US WordPress community in their local habitat, and it was a great experience I will fondly look back to. I had not actually planned to attend this particular WordCamp (or travel so far in the immediate future), but rather decided very spontaneously to attend after a discussion with my wife and a look at the flight rates… and I’m glad I did! Here’s a quick summary of the weekend that brought Discussions, Dinosaurs and Dim Sum!Discussions, Dinosaurs & Dim Sum - A Tale Of Two (#WordPress) Conferences. Click To Tweet
Traveling In Good Company
I was traveling with Alex Frison and Robert Windisch, partners at Inpsyde, a German agency providing enterprise-level solutions built on WordPress. During our flight from London to Philly, we actually were able to get some actual work done as well, which made us feel like “digital contortionists” in the cramped seats.
We had a lot of fun throughout the trip, and I am sad I had to leave early and couldn’t join them to head over to the BigWP Meetup in New York.Pro Tip: When heading to a #WordCamp, check local #Meetups happening at the same time. Click To Tweet
The Publish is a members-only conference for PostStatus members that is a more targeted format than a WordCamp. Put simply, whereas WordCamps are in large parts targeting end-users, Publish targets makers and owners.
There were a lot of very interesting sessions, with topics you would not find at a typical WordCamp. I really do think that WordCamps might be a bit too broad in scope when you’re looking for business value. While not targeting any specific market segment makes them a very inclusive event, it also means that they are not optimized for any of them either, putting the pressure on the attendees to make the experience have a meaningful ROI. So, in that sense, it was kind of a great combination to have both types of conferences in one location during the same week, as you could have the best of both worlds.
The sessions were followed by a laid-back reception where the networking took the center stage. Given the fact that the list of attendees was already so targeted, I’m sure that more than one deal has been made during this reception.
WordCamp Session Days
During the two normal WordCamp session days, I mostly kept to the hallway track. The sessions were in large parts targeted towards end-users and the community aspect, and I was surprised by the relative lack of more technical topics.
The hallway track allowed me, just as the Publish did the day before, to finally meet a lot of folks that I had interacted with for some time now through digital means, but never met in person up to that point. Meeting in person immediately adds a new dimension to the daily interactions, so I am very glad I had this opportunity. I am grateful for all the people that I could engage with, and am looking forward to the next opportunity!The #HallwayTrack is where it's at! Click To Tweet
WordCamp Contributor Day
The Contributor Day allowed me to meet a lot of the Core development team members I hadn’t met before. My main goal was to more properly identify my own role in WordPress Core development. Although I had contributed to Core for the last two releases, I’m am still feeling that I haven’t yet found the right spot to be in for my efforts to return the most value. The discussions with the Core leads have helped me explore a potential approach that might currently be the best way forward for myself, and there might be an announcement coming in the near future.
These discussions were the motivation to even make the trip in the first place, and I can happily say that I feel it was worth it, and can only confirm that WordCamp US is the place to be if you want to have access to all the key players involved with the project. It will be hard to argue against attending the next WordCamp US, so I’ll probably have to permanently include this in my conference attendance planning.
There were lots of opportunities, during and after the scheduled events, for socializing with great food and beverages. I’ve been to some great locations in Philadelphia, and in this context, I would like to thank Inpsyde, Human Made, Automattic, GiveWP, Media Temple, GoDaddy and Envato for their generosity, during both official and inofficial after-parties. I most fondly remember Bing Bing Dim Sum, which combined an original interior, great dim sum and witty WordCampers into a very funny and pleasurable whole.
I’ll wrap up this article by sharing some impressions from the trip… Enjoy!