As most of you know, I spent last weekend in Boston, MA for WordCamp. The flight in was a bit bumpy but nothing to cause worry. Special thanks to Michael Torbert who paid for the cab ride from the airport to the Marriott which by the way, was a steal at $99.00 a night. The hotel was great with comfy beds and Brian Gardner s favorite establishment on the ground floor, Starbucks.
As for the event itself, it was rock solid. The Microsoft NERD center was a pretty cool establishment to host a WordCamp despite the colorful furniture. I started the day off in the applied track by moderating a panel discussion around the topic of monetization in a free world. I truly believe the session could have been better but it only started getting interesting once we were 20 minutes or so into the panel. I think if I were to have more time, such as an hour or more, this would have been an excellent panel. I also felt that because I know more than the average WordPress end-user, some of the questions I was asking required in-depth knowledge of other aspects of the WordPress community. I may get the panelists together again on a future episode of WordPress weekly to give the topic justice. The only feedback I received from the panel was a tweet from someone who said they couldn’t use anything that was discussed in the panel for their own business. This leads me to believe that the word monetization must have thrown some people off as if we were going to talk about making money with WordPress powered sites.
After my session was over, I hung out around the building talking to various members of the WordPress community. I only attended two sessions during the day. One by Jonathan Davis talking about the Shopp plugin with Shayne Sanderson discussing WP E Commerce, and Brad Williams WordPress security presentation. Both were informing but what I’ve come to find out is that after you attend a few WordCamps, the sessions or information becomes repetitive which makes the un-conference room much more important for me. Although it took me all day to find the un-conference room because it was hiding behind two big silver doors that resembled a vault, I was glad to get an up-close presentation by Michael Koenig of IntenseDebate.com. I like what I saw. If there was no way for me to have the commenting system I now have, I’d most likely be using something like IntenseDebate but for now, the system I have works. I was also able to admit to Michael’s face my resentment towards using a third-party commenting system, despite the synchronization that takes place ensuring no comments are lost. I tried to explain what was holding me back but it just seems like a third-party inserted into the commenting phase for me is just like an invisible wall to get over. I also told Michael how upset I was that RoboForm does not work with the fields inside of IntenseDebate. I think I can fix this problem myself but filling in those fields all the time sure was a pain.
Of course, the biggest news to come out of Boston was the launch of the WordPress Foundation and WordCamp New York donating almost $30,000.00 to seed the foundation. I’m looking forward to see how the foundation spends this money as all eyes will be watching.
On Friday evening, I and a group of other WordPress community members had dinner at a place called Legal Seafoods. Great place that accommodated about 20 of us just before the dinner hour. The food and service was awesome.
Overall, I considered the event a success. Plenty of schwag to go around, great food during lunch, and surrounded by awesome people. One of the touching moments during the entire event was during the opening remarks on Saturday morning where Brian Gardner and the StudioPress team launched a site called WPCares.com. The proceeds go to the Red Cross and will be used to fund relief efforts in Haiti. WPTavern donated $25.00.
One other thing that I was reminded of during WordCamp Boston is that the WordPress community is filled with good people. You may not agree with their business model, you may see someone as a competitor, you may think they are a jerk, but deep down, the people I interacted with last weekend were all good-hearted people who were willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. I’m trying not to poop any rainbows, but it was a good feeling to be surrounded by people like that.
As of now, I plan on attending WordCamp Raleigh, North Carolina, WordCamp Columbus, OH and WordCamp Chicago, IL. Any WordCamps after June are up in the air. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending San Francisco yet again but I am making plans to turn next years San Fran event into a week-long vacation. This will probably be the only opportunity in my life time to check out the Redwood National Forest, a lifelong goal of mine. Anyone else in the crowd planning on attending the three I mentioned?