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This being my 5th WordCamp I have to admit the thrill is not quite what it used to be. Not that you should never go to a WordCamp which are held in many cities around the planet. You should go. You’ll find all kinds of designers, developers, marketers, business owners, bloggers and others who use and mostly love WordPress. All are friendly, helpful and define what the WP Community is about.
It’s just that I find the format tedious. Two days of 3 rooms with speakers that change about every hour. Yes, the lunches are great. The vendors you talk to in the Hallway Track are interesting and informative. And you’ll never attend a confab like this for just 40 bucks!
There is a Happiness Bar that I’ve never been to and at this WordCamp, a Gutenberg user testing table. I skipped that too.
I don’t mean to be a Dougie Downer here but I just have to tell it as I saw it.
Fat, Happy And Fifty
I have no idea why this talk, presented by Marc Benzakein, was allowed. This would have been appropriate for a self-improvement conferences. I was not interested in how a 49 year old lost 50 lbs in one year to acquire the body of Mr. Clean. Since I let after 25 minutes maybe I missed his big message but what I heard and saw was not for a WordCamp.
The Hallway Track
As mentioned, this is where I spent most of my time. Last year’s vendor’s area was more intimate. This year it was in a large convention room with a high ceiling and long distances to traverse. Not good. Too make it worse, vendors didn’t really have booths. Most had puny tables. The signage was poor and it took some time to figure out who was there.
The bigs were there alright – Jetpack, GoDaddy, Bluehost, WP Engine and a new one – Google – which had the largest display. A fuss was made about their attendance. Why? I’m not sure.
Where Was Gutenberg?
Sure, there was a a small Gutenberg usability test area where two people at once could give Gutenberg a ride where the were clicks were recorded. Aside from that and the talks by Morten Rand-Hendriksen (a rave) and Matt Mullengweg’s “State Of The Word” talk about Gutenberg was just not there.
Surprising. Or maybe I missed something?
This is not a knock on Nashville. It’s a city that is undergoing a huge growth spurt for good reasons. But why was it picked for WordCamp US? It’s not easy to get to nor does it have an exceptional tech base. I could not figure out why it was picked over larger cities that have bigger WP communities.
When I think of Nashville, I think of music, don’t you?
Gutenberg And The Future Of WordPress
I knew I was in for something special when I found out that Rand-Hendriksen was talking on Gutenberg and the future of WP. Moreten is a visionary and a well known WordPress instructor as a Senior Author on lynda.com. His big message came at the end. Gutenberg is our opportunity to make the changes that have to be made for WordPress. Embrace that change.
Gutenberg will not just be replacing the TinyMCE (WP editor). It will be the tool we will use to customize everything in WordPress in the next few years.
His talk alone was reason enough to be a WordCamp US this year.
Why I even packed a bag of T-shirts for WordCamp is beyond me. A WordCamp tradition is how many T-shirts, mugs, portable chargers, stickers, pens and other swag I can stuff into my back pack. The most unusual item? Jetpack had a S’mores kit that captured the camping spirit.
In the Swag Department, this year’s WordCamp was no disappointment. I have a new wardrobe for a year.
This might be the real reason why I go to WordCamps. It’s a bit like a high school reunion. You see old buddies. People hug you that you don’t remember. New friends are made. Maybe you meet sometime that you’ve been emailing for a year and never met before.
If you don’t get the sense of community and shared purpose after you go to any WordCamp you probably never will. This WordCamp, like the others I have been to certainly did that.
Were you there? Or did you miss it and wish you had been? Leave your thoughts on this or any WordCamp below.