This past weekend, I ventured down to Nashville to attend their 2016 WordCamp. To say it was a great trip would be an understatement. I’m convinced that anyone in the WordPress community should go to as many WordCamps as possible.
“Oh, you’re from Chicago? Are you down here just for this?” was a question I got a lot this weekend. I did make a special trip to Nashville just for a two day conference, but I’m convinced it was the right choice.
One of my favorite parts of any WordCamp is the people that attend. Attendees make the trip from California, Florida, and everywhere between. It wasn’t WordCamp US, but it definitely felt that way.
Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.
That’s straight from the WordCamp Central homepage and I found that to be true in Nashville. In just two days, I was able to:
- Chat with a bakery owner running his own WordPress site
- Play Mario Kart with the guys from Bluehost
- Share a beer with our friends at WP Engine
- And even get to know the venerable Otto (who I hope to be seeing at BBQ Fest in Memphis next year; he sold me on it).
I learned something from every one of the people I met this weekend and that’s an experience that isn’t the same over Slack or the WP.org forums.
A large part of what brings people to WordCamps is the huge amount of learning that’s possible in just a couple days. WordCamps are great for revealing ‘unknown unknowns‘. There were talks this weekend full of information I would have never thought to look up. These gave me a starting point to learn more.
I was also fortunate enough to finally be able to speak at a WordCamp. The organizers asked me to speak on Advanced Custom Fields and show attendees how they can start customizing wp-admin. This was a lightening talk, which was a new format for me. Unlike many of my talks where I had a full 40 minutes, a lightening talk keeps your material to 20.
Lightening talks are great talks to give, because they force you to pare down your material and focus. We were still able to cover a lot in 20 minutes and still had time for some great questions from the audience.
Out of all the presentations I saw this weekend, a couple definitely stand out.
Right before my talk, Nathan Ingram gave a quick run down of 10 things he wishes he had known about freelancing. And I do mean quick. He had presented the talk in the past as a full 40 minute talk, but he was given a lightening talk slot on Saturday. Still, he was able to share so many stories and so much great information and I’m sure it sparked plenty of conversations (Slides).
Throughout the day, a great variety of talks provided for an entertaining and informative Saturday.
— Keanan Koppenhaver (@KKoppenhaver) September 18, 2016
WordCamp Nashville Day 2 was “a combination of an full day of contributing back to WordPress core and community, as well as 3 in-depth workshops.” These are often known as contributor days, but in Nashville it was a bit different. If you wanted to learn more, there were workshops on SEO, how to use the WP-Admin, and using forms in WP.
But, if you were ready to jump in instead, there was a co-working area for contributing to WordPress Core and other initiatives. This was great for me because I had never contributed before. There was a great workshop on exactly how to contribute to core as it’s a different process than many projects.
After that, people just jumped in. It was great seeing so many first-time contributors and I’m happy to say I was one of them (https://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/37980)!
With two different tracks on Sunday, everyone could get what they wanted out of the second day.
From the welcoming city to the inspiring speakers to the ability to give back to a project that we all use every day, WC Nashville was a great experience. I’m excited to be speaking at two more WordCamps this fall and looking forward to attending many more in the future!