What Do You Get Out of It?

“What do you get out of it?”

badges

It was Sunday afternoon at WordCamp Columbus. During one of the sessions someone ask how many people had to pay their own way to WordCamps. I was one of a few that raised my hand. Afterward I was standing outside when I was  asked this question by a well respected member of the WordPress community.

My quick answer was this: to meet people and learn more about WordPress. Now, I am not the sharpest tack in the box. I probably could have given a much better answer if I had taken a moment to think about it.

As we all know, WordCamps are low cost conferences that can be 1, 2 or even 3 day events. To me, the cost of a hotel room and a tank of gas make these a very attractive learning opportunity. I am lucky that there are 3 WordCamps in Ohio and I can actually make this a one day trip.

I read this post written by Marina Pape on the WooThemes website after WordCamp Norway and these 2 sentences caught my attention:

“It’s not only for the content. Slide decks are up before talks are over and WordPress TV shares everything if you wait long enough. Business leads and sponsorship opportunities? Maybe for some. But my suspicion is most people do it for the unlikely friendships that form.

Everyone’s heard it, but the best thing you can do at WordCamps is talk to people, because you will definitely learn some things and might just meet a kindred spirit to add to your collection.”

In one way of thinking WordCamps “could” be viewed as a live Knowledge Base. Several sessions are offered, most have a Happiness Bar and you always approach someone with a question.

The Community is mentioned often and is a vital part of WordPress. I really haven’t found anything else that compares. Where else can a WordPress user like myself sit at the same table as some of the top experts in the world and feel comfortable & welcome.

So, when I answered that question with “To meet people and learn more about WordPress” , it may not have been the best answer but  it was good enough.

 

Me & WordPress.TV

I have been keeping busy volunteering with WordPress.TV and have really enjoyed myself.

It has been almost a month since I attended WordCamp North Canton and about two and a half months since WordCamps St. Louis and Dayton in March.

At WordCamp North Canton I gave a presentation on WordPress.TV and I was able to unveil a new plugin that was developed by Kyle Maurer. The plugin enables user to display WordCamp videos that are relevant to the screen they are on while logged into their WordPress website.

Although my presentation only had 8 people ( I was in a tough time slot on Saturday sessions at 1:00 – see the schedule) I had a great time with the presentation and had some great questions.

I was accepted to speak at WordCamp Columbus on the Sunday Contributor Day and am a little nervous about that. From what I understand, this will be mostly designers and developers (compared to me being a “user”) so I am planning on adding some more technical information to my presentation.

I have been volunteering with WordPress.TV for slightly more than a year and I certainly learned a lot. I started off moderating videos that were in the pending queue have moved on to actually editing videos that have been submitted by WordCamps and inserting slides. I use a program called Shotcut and it is fairly easy to use once you learn about the settings.

The WordPress.TV leaders are encouraging the creation of screencast that would be short instructional videos for different parts of the Dashboard. This has worked out very well for me because I have been very interested in creating screencast or podcast for several years.

The first WordCamp I attended was Columbus in 2010 and it was actually a combined camp with podcamp / WordCamp. Since that time the foundation has not allowed combined camps. I was, at the time, mainly interested in podcasting and I just happened to sit in on a presentation by Mitch Canter of Studionashvegas.com. This got me started on WordPress but I always had in the back of mind that I wanted to do some podcasting. So it looks like I have my chance with the screencast for WordPress.TV and I am eager to contribute!

 

Acceptance

One of the definitions of the word Acceptance is the act or state of being accepted. Or in my way of thinking, the act of being a part of a group.

I was able to witness this recently during WordCamp Dayton and I must say that it brought tears to my eyes during the 3 hour drive home.

I had asked my son Mike if he would like to go to the WordCamp with me. Mike is 32 years old and is mentally handicapped. I really wasn’t worried about the people that he would meet, I was wondering if he would be bored sitting in the sessions with me. Depending on the situation, Mike functions on a 6 to 12 year old level.

IMG_0762

Throughout the WordCamp I would greet someone I knew or introduce myself and I made sure to introduce Mike also. He had a great time and had some interesting questions about some of the things he saw or heard people talking about.

Mike had a great time and I did not realize what all he had observed until we were driving home. He started asking questions about the people we had talked to. He started naming the people he had met. If Mike has one talent that is impressive it is his ability to remember people and names. I started to get tears in my eyes when he talked about how nice everybody was to him. As you can well imagine this has not always been the case.

So, in closing, I just want to say to the WordPress Community “Hats Off.” As in a lot of cases the Community makes a difference. As happens sometimes, it happens when people do not realize  that they are making a difference.