WordCamp SF 2011 - My Recap 1Once again those of us deeply engrained with the WordPress content management system have descended on our yearly meeting mecca – WordCamp SF 2011 was this past weekend and, without a shadow of a doubt, it was awesome !


I’ve attended a total of 3 WordCamps live and in person, but have followed, via Twitter and other social media, countless other gatherings.

This year there were 3 jam-packed days of education and networking on the calendar. As normal there were 2 tracks; one for the beginner-to-novice and another for those who wanted to get deeper into the PHP and CSS weeds.

But even with the 2 tracks, there was even more segmentation for the attendees. Friday was aimed towards those who run professional or larger-scale installations. Off-site from the main facility there was an extensive workshop for those brand new to WordPress and blogging in general. On Saturday, designers and developers got the opportunity roll up their sleeves and really get an understanding of the code that makes up WordPress, theming, and plugin development. Then on Sunday everyone convened as the focus was on content creation (that’s pretty much all of us in this business…)

I bounced between both tracks and various sessions due to both interest in topic and a desire to support specific speakers. Only problem with that – ALL of the sessions were fantastic and I found myself, on a number of occasions, multi-tasking by sitting in one session and streaming another one on my laptop with my headphones on.

Let me not gloss of that distinct point – this was the first WordCamp that I’ve attended, or even known that all sessions were livestreamed during the event. The sessions were made available on the main WordCamp SF site for paid attendees.

Here are the events that I went to, along with the published slidecks provided by the speaker.

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  • Taking WordPress to the World: Options for a Multilingual Site | Shannon Smith
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Jeff’s slides aren’t posted yet, however, Automattic Happiness Engineer, Andrew Spittle posted a fantastic recap of Jeff Veen’s talk here.

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Yeah – if you just watched the whole MattNote, those stats are correct…WordPress is dominating across the web for blog, and CMS platforms:

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Those slides that Matt used were beautiful. Nothing you’ll ever get out of Microsoft PowerPoint or even Apple’s Keynote. The man behind the creation of those slides is Michael Pick. If you want to see the individual slides, head over to his blog here. For an explanation of how he and Pete Davies collaborated and produced these slides, based on original jazz album covers, using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, go to his detailed post here.

WordPress and E-Commerce: Navigating the Minefield | Jonathan Davis

  • Appearance is Everything: Customizing Your Theme | Jane Wells
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Obviously the State of the Word (affectionately also referred to as the MattNote) was the primary draw for presentations since Matt really does command the attention of the audience. I liken the relationship between Matt and those of us within the WordPress Community to that of Steve Jobs and the fans within the Apple community. Do you agree ?

There were 2 activities at this year’s WordCamp that really stood out, in my opinion. One would be the presentation by Teru Kuwayama and how he utilized the WordPress platform to create basetrack.org to serve as a social network and support system for families with loved ones deployed in the Middle East. Teru’s presentation made all of us extremely proud, and emotions began to pour out as those in the audience spoke of their usage of basetrack.org – Unquestionably Teru go the longest round of applause when he was finished.

The other really cool activity that stood out in my mind this year was one of the lightening rounds provided by Frankie Gershwin. From her blog, Frankie describes herself as a performer, singer, songwriter, and founder of Gershwin Media. She’s also a big fan of WordPress. The name Gershwin is key here. Matt and most of the Automattic employees are big jazz fans, and, as of late, the major releases of the WordPress core have been code named after a prominent jazz musician. The latest version (3.2) is code named Gershwin – after George Gershwin – Frankie’s great uncle…

At the end of her talk about how she’s using WordPress for Gershwin Media and her love of the platform, she invited the audience to join her for an impromptu rendition of her great uncle’s composition, Summertime. Wow – when she started singing, we all were mesmerized. Watch and listen for yourself:

There are a few Flickr collections of great photos from the WordCamp, check out the sets from Chad Johnson, Naoko McCracken, and Kristina Alexanderson.

How did you like that special, limited edition, WCSF t-shirt? What about the cool comic? Well, Jane “Superwoman” Wells, was obviously deeply involved in getting that acquired and screened for all us attendees. Check out the post she wrote on her blog talking about the process of working with the artist, Randall Munroe and getting a few thousand of those bad boys printed off. The comments in that blog post seem to have gone in an interesting direction (see for yourself), but needless to say – we’re all very grateful to have ANY kinda WordPress swag !!

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The food – was wonderful. Automattic fed an army of hungry tech geeks for 3 days and there was not an un-full belly at the conference.

From a networking perspective – I had the opportunity to see and finally meet a number of folks that I sincerely admire and respect within this community. In no particular order, and by no means a full list, here are a few of them:

Josh Strebel | Alex King | Otto Wood | Andrew Nacin | Matt Mullenweg | Adria Richards | Jane Wells | Devin Reams | Mark Jaquith | Tammy Hart | Vid Luther

WordCamps, especially this yearly one in San Francisco, are not trivial events. It must be said how appreciative we all are of the work that Automattic, event sponsors, the facility itself, and especially Jane Wells does to coordinate and plan these events. Phenomenal job (as always…)

Here is some up-to-the-minute reaction, from the Social InterWeb, of the conference:

As more and more content gets released from other attendees, I will continue to update this post. If you were there – what were you’re impressions? Good, bad or indifferent – we’d like to know.

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