Connecting Dots

I had an awesome time at WordCamp SF this past week. I learned a lot and connected with some amazing folks. But I came away with some ‘Deep Thoughts,’ Jack Handy style… This camp got me thinking and inspired in a way that I hadn’t felt since my first WordCamp.

October 2013 this seemingly agitated fella, Derek Neighbors, gives a talk at Pressnomics. The one thing he asked: “What, as a community, have we done with our market share and influence to make the world a better place?” This question rubbed some folks the wrong way; confused some (like me) and got some folks nodding in agreement. It sounded nice, but a challenge without direction is tough to digest… This talk was never too far from memory from that moment on. I often wondered how the talk applied to me…

December 2013, WordCamp Las Vegas, a guy known in the community as “Accessible” Joe gives an impassioned talk about accessibility and the web. It’s a talk that he’s given in some form before… It’s also one of the first times I began to think about accessibility in the work I did.

October 2014, WordCamp San Francisco; Matt Mullenweg gives his annual ‘State of the Word’ address to a packed in-house audience and countless others watching from elsewhere in the world. Mullenweg shares challenges, motivations and accomplishments. He also provides the fact that WordPress continues to grow in usage as it now powers 23.2% of the web. That figure is staggering; one in every five or six sites you see are running good ol’ WP.

The WCSF Community Summit. I can’t say much about the Summit since we’re supposed to keep specifics to a minimum. What I can say is that it was a privilege to be in attendance. Thanks go to Jen Mylo for that.

But it also got me thinking about something else…

Being more than the 23.2%

I’m not sure how much I can share, so I can’t be too detailed here. What I can tell you is that a quick exchange between a pair of contributors caused me to have an “aha moment.”

The exchange came down to this notion: Yes, WordPress is a leader, with its market share and overall usage. BUT leading in market share alone does not make you a leader…”

Basically every discussion I participated in at the Community Summit came down to this notion that numbers don’t always matter; cold-hard facts don’t always matter; action matters; what we set ourselves out to do and how that helps others is what matters. Popularity is nice, but it doesn’t do much for the world around us. Does it? No. There are ways we can take action, use this acquired influence and knowledge to make things happen.

This goes for connecting with our tech neighbors in the community, such as the PHP, jQuery and Ruby groups as an example; this extends to not just inviting other groups to join our community, but to step out and join theirs, too. We also need to consider how to make this WordPress thing and all it touches accessible to people of all walks of life, native tongues and abilities. What good is a product’s market share if it can’t bring everyone along for the ride? Yes, it’s a big idea, but I think it’s one worth working toward.

That said, I know that there’s already countless things that have been done and have been worked on to help those around us. I’ve been a part of a couple of these things in the post couple years, having attended a GiveCamp and Website Weekend LA. That said, I know I can do a little more. I think we all can.

Obviously, I’ve been trapped in my head the last 24 hours. Inspired, really and thinking about how I’ll make a contribution. I’m going to start small. I’m going to start with my starter theme and making it accessible and re-submitting on .org. And then I’ll write about that. So there’s that. Beyond that, I’ve got some thinking and planning to do.

What will you do?

WordCamp LA 2014

Screenshot 2014-09-06 21.51.19

Just ahead of 7am here and with a warm cup of pretentious coffee from an obscure region of the world, I can push my frames up to the bridge of my nose and start typing. WordCamp LA 2014 is officially in the books and we’re going through all the stuff and things that need to be wrapped up. All in all based off of the great feedback and all the folks I met this weekend who took something with them I think WCLAX 2014 was pretty damn awesome! Self hi-five!

I appreciate the community so much. I appreciate all the support we get from so many people. I appreciate that this is bigger than any one person. I appreciate that this will go on even if we aren’t around to help, because there’s an awesome community who will pick it up and take it further. I appreciate our sponsors, volunteers, speakers and my fellow organizers for making this thing happen.

Adam Silver sums up a lot of what I feel after a WordCamp here.

This is a post that could go on forever. I think I might just break it down into a couple smaller chunks, though…

For now, I’m just a guy sitting in his chair spinning around with the biggest and goofiest smile on his face.

Thank you everyone. Y’all make it so easy to want to do this thing called WordCamp. =)

My WordCamp OC 2013 Saturday Talk

Linda Sherman had mentioned that my talk from WCOC 2013 hadn’t been posted to WordPress.TV. Not a big deal, but it went better than my hungover Sunday presentation. So after pinging my buddy, Jason Tucker, he was able to get the video uploaded to the site and so I can share it with ya! =)

Having some time to think about this and how I’ve grown since this talk, there’s a couple of amendments I’d mention and really break things down by stating that we’re all using a Framework of some sort (unless you’re building from scratch). Genesis, Headway, TwentyFourteen… They’re all Frameworks of some sort… Anyway, video is below. Have a look and lmk what you think.

Direct Link

How to Get the Most Out of a WordCamp

WordCamp Vegas

The reason I remember very little about Saturday evening at WCLV

WordCamps are a great, great time. As someone who has spoken at a couple of WordCamps, attended several more and even co-organized one; I can tell you, from different perspectives, that they are worth your time and attendance.

They give an opportunity to meet new folks, network and learn something new in the process. Also, you get  a chance to really connect with some of the well=known players in the WordPress space and bounce ideas off of them and soak it all up!

I realize you all may know this already. “But, Alex,” you ask; “how can I get the very most out of a WordCamp?” Young Padawan learner, I can help you and give you the answers you seek.

How this Mother F****r gets the most out of a WordCamp

  1. Do — Take lots of notes, copy down URLs to useful products and services (Real FAT Media, Maintainn and WP Site Care, Purple Pen Productions).
  2. Do — Take the time to ask questions. When people like Jeffrey Zinn, Amanda Blum, Steve Zehngut and Konstantin Obenland get up to talk, they are going to share their knowledge on a variety of topics. Make sure to ask questions! These people are super approachable and great people to ping for their opinions.
  3. Do – Take the time to talk to someone new; someone well-known and have those “hallway conversations.” These types of convos provide an opportunity to further make a connect and also gain insight and ideas about what you’re working on. Even as someone who’s been around the WP space for a while I’m still learning so much from people. If you’re shy, this is the time to overcome that fucker.
  4. Do — Take the time to say “hello” to Chris Lema. Much as been written about how great that effing guy is. He’s good people and he’s giving and blah, blah, blah. If you don’t know by know…
  5. Don’t — Drink too much at the After Party. I mean you can, but you don’t want to be that “asshole” that drank too much
  6. Don’t — Call the nicest and most generous fella you know (Chris Lema) to eff off a bunch of times and further tell him you hate him. That shit’s rude.
  7. Don’t — Crumble up your prescription glasses and throw them away for no reason. You’ll have trouble seeing the rest of the time you’re at WordCamp
  8. Don’t — Take flaming shots of ANYTHING!!!!!! Bad, bad, bad idea. Just. Don’t.
  9. Don’t — Drink that much again… until the next time.
  10. Do — Truly, enjoy yourself. Have fun and, remember attendance is an elective process and it is always a good time.

WordCamp Las Vegas

headervegasAre you going to WordCamp Las Vegas? I am. But don’t let that stop you from attending! WordCamps are awesome for a variety of reasons. Mostly it’s to get your learn on, meet some new folks and come away energized.

I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Vegas this year. It’s my first time speaking at this camp and I’m super excited. The event is being organized by some awesome folks, as usual. They’ve been doing it for five years running and few people do it better than them, at least that’s what my fellow WordPress peeps tell me. John Hawkins, one of the organizers, also co-organized GiveCamp Las Vegas and the guy is tops, so it’ll be good to see him again, too!

I’ll be talking about WordPress Theme Development, Parent/Child Themes vs. Starter Themes vs. Frameworks. It’s a talk I gave at WordCamp OC 2013, this year. True, it’s a rehash of that talk, but there’s always more to throw into the mix. It’s a fun talk, but I know it’s review for most developers out there. Although, I do like this topic, because it’s always something to think about. That is, our tools. What we use, when we use and why. Is every theme right for the job? It’s subjective obviously, but I definitely enjoy throwing out what my opinions on the matter are.

I look forward to seeing my friends at WordCamp as well as connecting with new ones.

If you see my talk, please come up and say “hello!” I’d love to connect.

WordCamp Los Angeles

Okay, I’m redoing this post because, well, I was lazy. I posted the following quote:

“When you find yourself doing something you love for no pay, you know you’re in the right place…”

Truer words, right?

This past weekend our team of organizers (Natalie Maclees, Ryan Cowles and Nathan Tyler) pulled off WordCamp Los Angeles 2013. By most accounts, people seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I know there’s a lot of opportunity to tighten things up for the next go-around and there were lots of hiccups, but nothing that derailed our collective enthusiasm and commitment to get this thing done.

That said, having spoken at a WordCamp a couple of times, attended nearly 10 WordCamps I can tell you that organizing a WordCamp is something else. I have to say… I’ve never slept better in my life than I did when my head hit the pillow Saturday night… Jeffrey Zinn, over at Pixel Jar, said I’d sleep pretty good… Turns out he was right.

The moral of this particular story isn’t really about all the awesome people who came together to be apart of this, but it’s really a more selfish thing, you see…

Leading up to this people would ask me “How much are they paying you?” they being the WordPress Foundation. The answer? Not a dime. We’re all volunteers. “But WHY are you doing this? Are you getting more business?” people would ask. I didn’t have a truly good reason that didn’t sound like complete bullshit…

Now that this weekend is done I can answer those questions. Because I love this WordPress community thing. For the first time, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. It’s a strange, strange journey that can bring you to where you are… Attending a meetup, organizing a meetup, meeting and making new friends; learning from folks ahead of you and pulling those behind you giving and taking. Loving what you do. Open Source Culture for the win, folks…