Last week, I travelled to Philadelphia to attend the inaugural WordCamp US (Dec. 4-6), the first US-wide conference for the WordPress community. Full disclosure, the first draft of this post was getting hard to follow so I converted it into an abecedarium.
A – Automattic
Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com. I interned for them last year and I’ve been writing and developing marketing copy for them for the past few months. You’ll always find a few Automattic employees at WordCamp, and WCUS has roughly 80 of the 400 employees attending. Automatticians are the best kind of people, so I spent a lot of my time eating, drinking, and laughing with these wonderful souls. Although I’m not technically an employee, they treat me like one of theirs and I am immensely grateful.
B – Brick and Mortar
This was a cool bar in Philly city center where I celebrated the end of a successful Contributor Day at Wordcamp (see next bullet). Aram and Kevin joined me, two great lads I enjoyed very much catching up with. Aram and I bonded over our AZ initials, and Kevin and I always have thoughtful and fun conversations. The only downside to this otherwise decent cocktail bar was the Eagles game that interrupted every five minutes with loud cheering and chants.
C – Contributor Day
December 6th was Contributor Day, when members of the WordPress community gather to make WordPress better with their skills and knowledge. Several teams formed at the beginning of the day and worked on fixing bugs, creating documentation, translating, improving accessibility, and more. I joined the marketing team, and we created a hand-out that lists the ten reasons to use WordPress. We made it Open Source on GitHub, so anyone can use it, alter it, and adapt it for their projects. UPDATE: Download the files here!
D – Dining alone
On the Thursday I arrived, I was not invited to any of the speaker or volunteer dinners for WordCamp, so I was on my own until around 9pm. I decided to brave it and try and make friends at the local resto-bar, Johnny Brenda’s. It was great. I met some wonderful locals with great stories and didn’t feel weird about it for a second.
E – Extrovert
Conferences can be exhausting. I’m not quite sure where I fall on the spectrum of introvert/extrovert, but I definitely found myself striking up conversations and socializing more than usual.
F – Fishtown
My Airbnb was in Fishtown, a neighbourhood above Northern Liberties, North-East from city center. I loved it. It reminded me of Toronto with its cafés, tattoo parlours, and record stores. Hipsters in a gentrifying ‘hood.
G – Great swag
Met the wonderful Nick Hamze, the self-proclaimed, but peer-approved Chief Swag Officer. The WordPress swag table was off the hook, and the official WCUS swag included a very whimsical toque. Sponsors also brought their A-game with great ideas for free merch.
— Mendel (@ifyouwillit) December 4, 2015
H – Hover board
My Airbnb has this, for all to use. Would have tried it if I had had a friend to help me find my balance. Oh well, next time, when I’m not such a wimp.
I – Italians
I met a whole contingent of Italians in Philly and got an inside peek into the work happening in the Italian WordPress Community. Italy has their own cultural, political, and technological landscape which these passionate people are working to change, little by little.
J – Jim’s
Late-night Philly cheesesteak with Will and Aram, new friends from NYC. They took me to Jim’s, arguably the best in town. Trick is, if they skimp on the cheese whiz, no good. If they over-chop the steak, no good, it’s too dry. The things you learn.
K – Karaoke
Sunday night I met up with the Japanese contingent of WordCamp US. We were at Yakitori Boy, a Japanese restaurant and two-floor Karaoke complex. It was my first time singing karaoke with Japanese people. They really taught me how it’s done. Dancing is apparently mandatory.
L – Lyft
We don’t have Lyft in Canada, so when I took Uber, the driver gave me a code to use on Lyft (which he also drove for) giving me $50 of credit. I used it for most of my rides and loved all my drivers, and even spoke French with one from Mali. Could not speak more highly of Lyft.
M – Matt Mullenweg/Mulletwig
I did not meet Matt, but I did attend his State of the Word address, his annual speech about the future on WordPress. One of my favourite Matt-related stories at WCUS is this new Twitter account.
— Hair Force One (@MattMulletwig) December 5, 2015
You can also catch his State of the Word here:
N – Nomad
Being a digital nomad is not *totally* new to me, but some parts of it are. Staying focused and productive when finding decent cafés in a new city is super fun and exciting and I’m looking forward to many more digital nomad adventures.
O – Open Source
Open Source is a project that is open to contributors from around the world. WordPress is open source and free, making it a unique web development tool. Witnessing the Contributor Day was really eye-opening because I saw more than 200 people actively pooling their skills and knowledge to improve a tool 25% of the web uses.
P – Ping-pong
The WCUS afterparty was ok. All I will say is I waited for a very long time to play ping-pong like the huge nerd that I am. Thank you Kevin for encouraging me not to give up.
Q – Quality over quantity
Conferences offer bottomless coffee, and I usually refill constantly either out of need, boredom, or because I don’t know what to do with myself and it’s something to do. Luckily I discovered La Colombe, a local coffee chain to satisfy my need for excellent coffee. I first found one in my neighbourhood that was recommended to me by my Airbnb hosts. Then I found another one near the conference by visit #2 was already friendly with the barista who wished me a safe trip home.
R – Reading Terminal
I was told to go to Reading Terminal, a market of restaurants and food stands by a pilot I met at Johnny Brenda’s. I tried going the next morning but was overwhelmed by all the sounds and smells. Instead of deciding on one of the many baked goods from the Mennonite stand, I did a 180 and moved on to the conference. Luckily, during Contributor Day, we were given gift cards to Reading Terminal for lunch, which we used for a meal, like Sarah’s mac and cheese grilled cheese pictured below, and then mid-afternoon team ice cream.
S – Sara/h
I work for a distributed company, meaning none of my colleagues and I work in one company office. My boss is in Italy, and the team designer is in Portugal. WCUS was the first time I met my boss Sara Rosso. She led the marketing team for the day, which included another Automattician named Sarah Blackstock, whom I immediately liked. Hope to see more of these Sara/hs in the future!
T – Teaching WordPress
Some of my favourite talks were related to teaching WordPress in the classroom and to adults.
- Teaching the next generation of WordPress bloggers and hackers – Charlie Reisinger
- Never Assume when Teaching WordPress – Joe Casabona
- Explaining Hard Things to Humans: The Principles of Effective Technical Communication – Frederick Meyer
There were awesome tips on how to approach it and some traps to avoid. Don’t be arrogant but don’t be too breezy either!
U – Uber
Hey Jaki, sorry I never paid my part when we split that Uber. Call me!
V – Volume
Pro tip if you want to have great hair while traveling light: Get a blowout the day you arrive and rock the hairdo for as long as you can tolerate it. Worked for me, and I had relatively manageable hair without any effort. Totes worth it for someone with unruly curly hair. I went to Plume Salon in Fishtown (they’re on WordPress).
W – Waffles
My Airbnb had a waffle iron and provided mixed pancake mix. I ate so many waffles. Thanks guys!
X,Y,Z – etc etc…
See you next year WCUS!