WordCamp Raleigh 2013

WordCamp Raleigh v. 4.0 was this weekend, and it was a delight. This was the first year the camp has been held on NCSU’s Centennial Campus, and for the most part the venue change was a huge improvement — as an unashamed urban snob, I really missed being downtown with all the restaurants/bars/coffeeshops right at hand. But on the other hand, every other thing about the location was a big improvement. When I’m queen of the universe, every tech conference gets power outlets at every desk.

(As for Centennial itself, my husband went to State back in the architecturally benighted days, and he keeps walking around going “wait a minute, I don’t remember any engineering buildings actually looking good…“)

I posted the other day about a single point that I wanted to address on its own, but I don’t want to walk away from the weekend without a more general overview of the highlights:

  • At the opening session, the organizers asked for a show of hands, and I’d estimate that 70 or 80% of the people in the room were at their first WordCamp. There are people in the community who go to lots and lots of camps, do a ton of networking, speak, make friends around the country (and the world), but there’s nothing like an audience of brand-new attendees to bring home the point that these events really are about their own local communities. To any first-timers who make their way to this post, I hope it’s your first WordPress event of many more to come! 
  • I had a series of great, energizing conversations over the course of the weekend with some Joomla! community folks who were there, including one of the organizers of the recent Joomla! World Conference where Matt keynoted. There’s so much that the open-source CMS world can learn across project lines, and so many common projects and interests we all work on in our own spaces — whether it’s organizing events like these (much praise for the amazing planning process and resources we have at WordCamp central), getting the right balance of supporting users who just want a solid product and supporting the developers who make it all go, general education and promotion of open source… If anyone still has any doubts on this point, Joomla! and Drupal and Typo3 and all the rest of ’em are not the enemy.
  • I love tech talks that are well-targeted at something specific. It’s not that “here’s an overview of framework X” isn’t sometimes fun, but they tend to be either too much or too little for me. David Herrera’s session on Unit Testing for the Almost-Intermediate Developer was just enough to hit that sweet spot: I went in desperately needing a good kickstart for my own testing practices, and that’s what I found — just the right bits to get me started writing and running unit tests for my own work, without stopping at “hey, you should test!” on the one hand, or getting into all the details of the whole PHPUnit library and its entire history in WordPress on the other.
  • Finally, at the risk of humblebragging, a conversation I had when I was practically on the way out the door on day 2, with a speaker who saw my talk on getting involved with the community at last year’s camp and took to heart the message of giving back what you can, whatever level you think you’re at… and this year he applied to speak. I’m incredibly humbled and grateful when I hear back from people who got something from any of my talks or classes, and all the more so when there’s such a tangible outcome. Ray, the credit’s all yours. Congratulations!

As always, many thanks and congratulations to the Semper Fi crew and the Raleigh WordPress Meetup (which meets in Durham. Go figure.)