WordCamp US 2019 Recap

My friend Allie Nimmons asked recently if anyone would read a WordCamp US 2019 recap were she to publish now, and the feedback was highly positive. So much to the point that Allie published her WordCamp US Recap that same day, and inspired me to write one myself. I am not quite as quick as getting things published πŸ˜…

Community and Diversity

Allie devotes a good portion of her post to talking about community, which if you already know me, know is one of the topics that I can discuss to the point of making people tired. That’s not a joke, by the way. I have twice had people tell me (once anonymously, once not so much) that I spend too much of my stage time talking about community.

I joined Allie, Jill Binder, and Aurooba Ahmed in giving a workshop on improving diversity at events, with a focus on improving diversity of speakers. More information on the workshop (as well as how to run it in your own community!) can be found at the Make WordPress site, and you can also get the workbook that Aurooba put together for us.

Personal Scheduling

This was one of the most highly scheduled WordCamps I’ve ever attended. I had a tight schedule already, arriving late the night before and leaving the morning of contributor day. In between I had volunteer orientation and a few volunteer shifts, a SiteGround meeting, an organizer meeting, and of course the workshop and my own presentation, The Power of CSS.

My one regret this time around was the sessions that I had to miss. I was told that I got some shoutouts from Tantek Γ‡elik during his talk, “Take Back Your Web”. I absolutely would have attended that regardless of a shoutout, considering how integral Tantek has been to the IndieWeb movement that I’m trying to become more involved in.

Similarly, The Web We Want did a session discussing changes that users would like to see on the web and how we as a community could work to make them happen. The idea looks great on the whole, and I would love to see it expanded in ways to be more accessible to people who aren’t able to attend a few large events or have heavy development skills. I submitted a few suggestions prior to the event, but due to scheduling was unable to be there in person to hear other ideas and see the panel discussion.

My connection to WordPress events revolves almost entirely around people. Whether that’s meeting new people or spending time with friends met online or via past events, I try to devote most of my time to conversations. That was easy to do with most of the jobs that I had, but even in this regard I didn’t fully succeed. As an example, I briefly got to meet David Shanske of the IndieWeb community as he introduced himself to me prior to our workshop, but I was unable to connect again until after the event. When a barrier to community involvement is not exactly knowing where you fit in and how to help, having conversations and finding allies is important. I aim to do so in the future so that one day I feel a bit less like an outsider imposter.

A Shift in WordPress

I won’t be the first to say that the WordPress Community and events have changed a fair amount over the past year. There are a variety of reasons given for this, and I imagine that it’s a combination of factors. WordCamp US certainly felt a bit more corporate than it has in years past, though that’s not really a bad thing to me for an event of this size.

I do think that the disconnect between funding (both the decline in sponsors and rules/limitations) and the volunteer nature of the event are also a cause for concern. I still have yet to get a good answer to a question that I had stemming from a conversation about WordPress Global Sponsors from over a year ago, and part of my concern is that I seem unable to

Highlights

Finally, a quick rundown of some of my favorite parts of the event.

  • Meeting Jean Perpillant for coffee before the event, freezing my hands in the cold to get a picture of the Arch during the sunrise.
  • Chatting with Cami Kaos and Courtney PK about some non-WordPress things for a change, like gardening, pets, XOXO Fest, and their love for Portland.
  • Checking Twitter after my lightning talk and workshop to see a lot of positive tweets, helping to slightly alleviate the worry that I did a poor job.
  • The talks that I did attend! Like
  • Spending time with the SiteGround crew! This included a dinner in which I overstuffed myself before entrees even arrived, a productive meeting, and catching up with more people about work and life outside of the conference.

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