Ive just returned from WordCamp Europe, and as ever had a wonderful time. I thought Id take 30 mins out to jot down a few of my thoughts.
The best thing about WordPress isnt the software, but the people. The people who make up the community are fantastic: varied, warm, interesting, caring, articulate and fun. It was enjoyable to not only catch up with friends from elsewhere but also to meet new people.
Talks are highly subjective, the community is varied. Designers, developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers all have different perspectives. I didnt see a bad talk or speaker, so kudos and thanks to everyone brave enough to stand on the stage. There are 5 talks that I particularly enjoyed, which were most relevant to both my job and personal interests. If anyone missed them, Id recommend looking out for them on WordPress.tv.
Making your voice heard: How to make friends and influence policy Heather Burns
5 Ways you may be sabotaging your business and 2 proven ways to succeed Joshua Strebel
Lessons learnt marketing Woo Commerce since 2014 Marina Pape
We are all making this up: Improv lessons for developers Dwayne McDaniel
Data Visualisation with the REST API K. Adam White
I thought the conference venue was great. The sponsor area was the best Ive seen at any WordCamp, and Ive been to several. I liked the halls too, spacious, comfortable, the wifi worked well. The logistics for lunch were excellent, I didnt see any queues. The sandwiches were a bit plastic given we were in the land of the baguette, but catering for 2000 + people cant be easy!
Id also like to applaud the opportunity given to start-ups to exhibit in the sponsor hall at a reduced rate. Its important to aid such companies gain momentum and profile; WordPress cant move forward without innovation.
The only real grumble, and I hate to say anything negative since so many people have given their time freely to organise this, was the area itself surrounding Les Docks. There are a number of refugee camps nearby, including directly outside my hotel. My first reaction was shock, sympathy and surprise, we dont see this in the UK; shame too as my country is doing its best to ignore this. Its hard to comprehend how this can happen in the 21st century. Some of the scenes Ive only witnessed first hand before in India. From a personal perspective Im a big bloke, and didnt fell threatened, but I spoke to women travelling alone who felt nervous when returning to their hotel after dark. Id like to stress that Im not aware of any problems. However, its a shame that anyone attending a WordCamp should feel uncomfortable in his or her physical surroundings. What can be done about this? Maybe a little help for people travelling alone to co-ordinate with others so they can share travel arrangements; especially when a lot of the events are in different parts of the city. To be honest this would be a good idea anyway, so people can share the costs of travel and get the opportunity to meet new people.
As I said, I almost didnt include this. However, no-one should feel uncomfortable about safety at a WordCamp. So I think its important to mention so future WordCamps can address this.
Ive been to many countries in Europe, but not Serbia, so Belgrade will be a treat. Ill go with an open mind looking forward to discovering a new place and people.
Having been involved recently in organising WordCamp Bristol, and as a sponsor of several WordCamps, I understand the magnitude of work required for a successful event. So a personal thanks to everyone involved the organizers, volunteers, speakers and sponsors all of whom are essential for such events to take place.