I attended WordCampSF 2009, the WordPress community gathering, in San Francisco today – and had a great time (pictures)! Held at the Rutter Conference Center at the new UCSF Mission Bay campus, this was a most impressive turnout of the WordPress community for an all-day session of talks about blogging, having fun and, yes, about all things WordPress. Eventually, the videos from today’s talks are to be available on WordPress.tv.
I’ve been a long-time TypePad blogger and fan. This blog, my personal website, started out originally in FrontPage back in the 1998 timeframe then moved through Manila and Radio Userland to Typepad when it launched in 2003. Recently, at work, we launched a new blog – PaymentsViews.com – and decided to try using WordPress for the first time. Bringing up PaymentsViews was a great experience – thus my newfound interest in all things WordPress and in wanting to attend today’s conference! The $25 all-in conference price made it a no brainer to attend!
I was particularly interested in learning more about the new BuddyPress release – and Andy Peatling did a great job covering it in the first session. While he was talking, I was able to download and install a) WordPress MU (the multiuser version) and b) the BuddyPress plug-in onto our Grid-Server on Media Temple.
Next up was Matt Cutts from Google who did a great job and had a lot of fun talking about the do’s and don’ts with respect to dealing with the search engines. (See Matt’s slides online).
Wrapping up the morning was Matt Mullenweg‘s State of the Word presentation. This being my first experience with either WordCamp or Matt, I was impressed with how he approached the whole presentation, sharing a humble perspective while being appropriately proud of the community’s accomplishments. A great presentation – and, for me, also a re-acquaintance with the beauty and simplicity of the Georgia font!
Lunch was a great BBQ feast outside – great food, fun conversation with other attendees at the table, etc. One guy I met at lunch had just retired from Cisco and has started two blogs – one focused on senior dating (!) and the other on learning ballroom dancing. Isn’t the web – and blogging – amazing! 😉
After lunch, XPLANE’s Dave Gray did a great job putting the web into perspective (long tails, land of the giants, etc.) Unfortunately, he ran out of time way too quickly – but what he was able to present was great stuff.
The last presentation I stayed for (I was steadily fading all day due to an increasingly stuffy head) was Philip Greenspun’s – it was the only minor disappointment of the day for me. He reviewed a few of his articles, why the weblog was a cool innovation over conventional print media, etc. – but there wasn’t much new or provocative insight in his presentation. For years, I have had a high regard for his contributions to the web, photography and computer science education – but still came away somewhat disappointed. Probably just an off-day for him?
I came away impressed with the breadth and scope of the WordPress community – how it’s grown, it’s commitment to open source (during Matt’s State of the Word presentation I almost felt guilty for having purchased a premium theme for PaymentsViews!), and its plans for the future. Wish I could have hung in there for the last three sessions. Meanwhile, here are the #wordcamp tweets from today on Twitter.