My WordCamp San Francisco Experience

I was fortunate enough to attend my first WordCamp San Francisco last weekend. When I say “fortunate,” I mean that in the very truest sense of the word, for I would not have been able to go without the support from some unexpected generosity. All in all, the experience was incredible, and I wanted to share with you some of what I got out of the trip.

The sessions were terrific, and not only did I learn a lot from the likes of Mark Jaquith, Konstantin Kovshenin, Josh Broton and more, but I also learned what I still need to learn. Once things settle down with our big project at RP3, I intend to buckle down and hop on the vagrant, grunt, puppet and all the other bandwagons a solid web developer needs to be on these days.

But the sessions were just the tip of the iceberg. Meeting people is what WordCamps are truly all about, and I got to meet a ton of people I had only known through tweets and IRC messages. Several times I got to say, “I follow you on Twitter, and not in the creepy stalker sort of way,” to rock stars of the WordPress world. There were people I sought out, like Lance Willett and Ian Stewart, but there were others I just happened to encounter. I had a half-hour long conversation with Kaylie Lampert before realizing, “Oh, hey! You’re @trepmal! I follow you on Twitter! (and not in that creepy, stalker sort of way.)” It was also great hanging with people I’d met at other events, such as Mika Epstein, Jen Mylo and Amy Hendrix.

And of course, I made a special effort to attend WordCamp San Francisco because of the book. Not just to plug it, which I did as much as I could bear to do so, but also to gather more information for it. Conversations with Lance Willett and Konstantin Obenland were useful in confirming suppositions I had already made, so I could put them in the book with authority rather than mere speculation. Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address allowed me to update the current numbers on WordPress market share (currently 18.9% of the top 10,000,000 websites in the world run on WordPress). And the sessions, of course, gave me more content to research and include in the book (look for an appendix about flex box, for example).

Yes, I did plug the book a bit. It wasn’t my primary goal, but hey, I had a swarm of people including themers who might be interested in it. There were people with genuine interest, and I’m pretty sure I talked their ear off when I was asked about it. I’m not a natural salesperson; I’d honestly rather code than do that any day. But you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, and the fact that the book is now available for purchase through MEAP meant that I could tell people about it, and they could immediately pick up the first three chapters. I have no idea yet how much my plugging the book at WCSF has helped (or hurt) sales.

All in all, it was a phenomenal experience, and I’m so glad I was able to go. Beyond the WordCamp itself I got to hang out in the city where I made my home for six years (well, four years in the city, two years in the ‘burbs) and had dinner with my old boss from my vivid days. Some things are still the same (like the awesome turkey sandwich at Caffe Centro in South Park), but some things are much different (wow, Valencia Street). July in San Francisco still sucks (as in frozen tundra territory), but if you dress in layers it isn’t so bad. Well, maybe a little.

If you’re into WordPress, and you ever have the opportunity, it’s worth the time and travel to go. You’ll have an awesome time.

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