Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

WordCamp SF 2011

by Susan Pomeroy

Post image for WordCamp SF 2011

It’s Monday. WordCamp SF 2011, the annual WordPress conference, is over. Now it’s back to work. The weekend was so much fun, I’m feeling let down … even though I didn’t actually attend the event.

Huh? Nope. Tickets were sold out. So instead, I got a “livestream” ticket (with t-shirt!)—three full days of live real-time video feed straight from WordCamp.

Biggest WordCamp SF surprise

After glitches the first hour or so, livestream worked wonderfully all the way through. I got excellent sound, and perfect views of all the presenters and their slides. It was super-easy to screen-capture the notes I wanted. Perhaps because I’ve been to real WordCamps at Mission Bay, it also felt surprisingly immediate. I feared I’d be distracted, sending emails, doing client work, tuning out… but nope. I was riveted the whole time. If you can’t attend WordCamp, livestream is a pretty good consolation prize.

Best WordCamp SF presentation

The annual State of the Word, of course. All right, I’ll say it. How can one guy be so young, so smart, so accomplished, so adorable, and so sincere? Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, is the Anti-Zuckerberg.

Matt called WordCamp a “family reunion,” and said “we’re making something here for the ages.”  I love that he takes the long view, and wants to do it right on all levels, both technical and human. I really like that he quotes WInston Churchill, Stewart Brand and Japanese designers in the same presentation. And uses vintage 60s jazz album artwork as a visual theme.

Great job, Matt. You can see his talk at

Second biggest surprise

Since I was missing the most fun part—meeting people—I decided that as an experiment, I’d tweet the whole conference, thinking I might “meet” people that way. I had fun, picked up some new followers, and followed some great new folks too. Though not a substitute for talking with people, tweeting did increase my sense of involvement and immediacy, so it was a success. (Second biggest surprise…getting RT’d a couple of times by Matt. But no, I’m not starstruck or anything.)

Best non-Matt presentations

Heather Gold was hilarious and fascinating on “tummeling,” a Yiddish word for the way entertainers engage their audience, and get audience members to engage with each other. She got me thinking about “social” tools and how inadequate they are for creating this kind of engagement. (There’s a certain irony here I must admit, since I was watching her via livestream and I “spoke” with her after the presentation via Twitter. But still. Point taken.)

Sara Cannon’s presentation on responsive design, and how to scale WordPress interfaces to look good on any device, including phones, tablets, and monitors, was fascinating and gave me a lot to think about and play with.

Biggest takeaways

Steve Zehngut’s presentation on how to hire a developer was packed with ideas about how to make one’s work process more methodical and transparent, both to employees and clients. Chelsea Otakan’s excellent talk on version control for designers dovetailed perfectly with Steve’s and gave me even more to think about in terms of organizing work flow. Great job, guys.

Other highlights were presentations on media queries, css pseudoclasses, and custom post types. Thanks to WordCamp, I actually know what these mean, and can’t wait to explore them all further.

Best #wcsf joke

There was a Twitter joke which was spread out over several hours Sunday afternoon. Much of its humor lies in the fact that as with most other tech conferences I’ve attended, it appears that the attendee demographic is about 90% male, ages 18-40… in which the sprinkling of middle-aged folks provides contrast. (If Twitter jokes don’t work in translation… let me know.)

“I’m convinced that WordPress is made by young men and used by middle-aged women.”

Given the preponderance of young men at the conference, and as a “middle-aged woman” myself, I thought this was hilarious. Then several hours later, after a presentation on how to organize local WordPress meetups and WordCamps, this scooted across my screen:

“Are you guys going to organize the first #WPCougar meetup?”

Stunning WordPress facts

The average, yes, average number of web sites run by people who use WordPress is 25. Each.

Nearly 15% of all sites on the web run WordPress, and 22% of all new domains in the US do.

WordPress is creating jobs (2800 people self-identified on a recent survey as making a living using WordPress… however, I think there are thousands more.) WordPress is a job machine!

WordPress is being used by military families to track deployed family members, by nonprofits in Africa, by the WSJ and the NYT and the Bangor, Maine Daily News, and millions of other sites around the globe. Most of them, by the way, and not strictly blog sites. WordPress truly has outgrown its blogging origins.

Excellent job, everyone who organized, spoke and helped out at WordCamp SF 2011. I’m only sorry I missed that BBQ lunch.

P.S. If you run a WordPress site and want to get rid of those annoying update notices forever… and you’d like complete automatic backups of your site, plus full restoration if there is every any disaster… check out my new service, CompleteWP Update & Restore.

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