This past weekend I attended the fifth annual Orange County California two-day geek WordCamp. These are affordable tech-centric events held all over the country where WordPress experts share their knowledge in 50-minute sessions (or three-hour workshops) on how to better use your WordPress website or blog (that’s the connection to my writing–I have four blogs and one website that use WordPress). I was first introduced to it when TimeThief over at One Cool Site Blogging Tips posted on a WordCamp she attended in San Francisco. It sounded over my head–I’m not into coding and PHP and CSS–but she made it sound fun, like I wished I was into programming. That made me open-minded when a girlfriend suggested we attend.
The $40 registration included all the events, lunch both days, snacks (see the pictures of the snacks below), designer coffee (or black-no-sugar like I like it), two T Shirts, a mug… Too much to list. A popular room was the Snack Spot which included everything you imagine coders and programmers and computer folk consume. (I took notes because I have a geek character in my current WIP). Snacks were non-stop, varied, abundant, with lots of water and coffee. Few sodas or diet drinks. Interesting…
And it was a blast. Packed with geeks who had personalities. The attendees were open, funny, engaged and engaging, buzzing with energy like overcharged power plants. Everyone was there to learn and share–in equal measure. I was one of the least experienced (for example, one of the presenters started with the ‘easy stuff’ for five minutes–half of which was over my head).
The presenters were eminently qualified. They knew their topics, fielded audience questions without a problem–and weren’t afraid to say they didn’t know but would find out, rarely ended early, never ran out of hints. One of the speakers was the guy who developed Amazon.com’s first website. That’s cred enough for me!
The most valuable thing I got, though, was the knowledge. The presenters were professional, varied in their voice and focus, approachable, on-topic, and more than half, I understood. Why not all? Back to that PHP and CSS stuff that I could learn (I know I could), but who has time?
Here are my top twelve take-aways from my two days with these folks:
- make your blog about helping. Always be helpful, not to make money but to spread knowledge
- because I’ve been blogging for five years, links in my early posts occasional die (the half-life of a link isn’t long). I stress over that, but who has time to go fix them pre-emptively? A presenter provided a great answer–refer the commenter to the date of the blog. Yeah, links have a lifespan.
- if you wouldn’t say it at a cocktail party, don’t say it on your blog. Meaning: blogging isn’t baring your soul, sharing your emotions. It’s grown up since those days.
- link back to lots of people who you’ve learned from. Be their cheerleader.
- build trust by providing primary sources, educated opinions. Base your posts, articles, conclusions on evidence.
- there are enough digital tools and hardware available that bloggers, developers, web consultants can be remote workers. You have to set up your virtual office, but it works well (see WanderingJon.com for more on that)
- trouble-shooting and problem solving are great teachers
- keep calm and Google on–letmegooglethatforyou.com. Funny. How many questions do you as a techie get that people could figure out themselves if they Googled it?
- don’t give your Admin credentials to anyone
- a 12-character password would take thousands of years to hack.
- lots of people used Haiku Deck and Slideshare for presentations. I didn’t see any created in PowerPoint or Slides.
- don’t post to FB through your blog. Do it manually so you get more traffic
More pictures? Check these out:
Anyone attended a WordCamp? What is your experience?
More on tech training:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she writes technology training books for how to integrate tech in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.