I’m in Philadelphia, looking forward to attending the very first WordCamp US. We checked in last night and I have already had the chance to engage in some friendly conversations with some old friends and new faces as well.
WordCamps can be a bit overwhelming for first-timers. I remember my first experience at WordCamp Vancouver back in 2012. I hardly knew anyone but more than that I was a bit intimidated by the dev superstardom that was present. I didn’t spend much time talking shop or trying to meet everyone. Most of my conversations were small talk. But I can say that everyone I spoke to was friendly. Despite all of the talent, there was no artificiality or ostentatiousness. My experiences there formed a cornerstone to many of the relationships that I have made online and at other WordCamps since.
The beauty of WordPress is not merely that it provides a wonderful platform that empowers individuals to self-publish online. It isn’t just a powerful content management system that enables individuals and teams to create, powering over a quarter of all sites across the globe. The true power of WordPress is in its community, without which it would not have become what it is today.
Ironically, many who work daily with this technology tend towards introversion. The nature of publishing and development is largely a solitary endeavor, and though you might get to know people based on their contributions online, this type of connection is often thin and vicarious. One doesn’t get the opportunity to capture the warmth or personality of a person purely through their online persona, or experience a human face through an avatar.
That is why, despite the educational tracks, the WordPress Summit, the Contributor Days and all of the technical work and cheerleading that WordCamps are comprised of, I feel that the human community element of each WordCamp is the most valuable experience of all.
Maybe it is because of the strong friendships and business relationships I have developed with intelligent, inspiring, and hilarious people I have had the pleasure to meet at WordCamps. Maybe it is a stronger sentiment this year following the recent discussions on depression in tech by Corey Miller, Yana Petrova, and others. Maybe I feel it more because of some of the talented and wonderful people that the WordPress Community has lost this year.
Or maybe it is because the greatest driving force behind 25% of the internet is not software or a content management system or a hosted platform. Indeed, what truly powers the WordPress movement is people. So I encourage WordCamp veterans and newbies alike: this week, let’s all reach out beyond what we can learn or contribute in a technological capacity. Let’s show each other what is exceptional about WordPress in the way we greet each other, reach out to each other, and in how we share ourselves and our time with familiar faces and total strangers alike.
If you see me at WordCamp US, feel free to stop me for a chat, or just to say hello. I look forward to talking with you. After all, you make the WordPress world go round.