WordCamp BostonThis past Saturday, January 23rd, the New England Research and Development WordCamp Boston(NERD) Center played host to WordCamp Boston’s 300+ attendees.  I’ve been to many events at NERD, but this was by far the largest, covering four floors – one of which I’d never been on!  I was really amazed by the organization and the flood of volunteers out there shepherding everyone – great job!

This was my first WordCamp, and the breadth of offerings was impressive: there were five different tracks – ranging from Beginner to Developer/Designer and even an Unconference track.  Regardless of your familiarity with WordPress or complementary technologies like PHP, JavaScript, and CSS there was something for you here.

My Day at Camp

Shayne Sanderson Jake Goldman

I managed to catch a couple of sessions in part or entirety, including an introduction to jQuery by Shayne Sanderson (who called out Visual Studio support as well!), a Templates 101 talk by Jake Goldman, a session on HTML5 and WordPress by Rob Larsen, and a great, practical session on SEO by Corey Eulas. It was certainly a much more diverse audience than the .NET developers on whom I typically focus, but in the end, many of the technologies certainly cut across platforms.

Rob Larsen At a session by Corey Eulas

 

Following the session tracks, Scott Kirsner moderated a keynote discussion with Doc Searls and David Weinberger inspired by the 10-year anniversary of their Cluetrain Manifesto.  In 1999, the manifesto offered 95 theses as to how the Web would transform the traditional interactions of business and consumer:

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

The primary takeaway was that the Internet is more than just another vehicle for distributing traditional print-based collateral.  Rather it inspires conversations, honest human-to-human interactions, and to be successful in this medium businesses need to adapt to that paradigm.  Some businesses got that quickly, some didn’t, but it’s pretty clear the manifesto got that part right. 

Kirsner asked ‘what they got wrong,’ and Weinberger didn’t hesitate to call out Thesis 74:

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

 

Hmm, let’s see… Google… $1.97 billion profit in Q4 2009… Q.E.D.

The panel tackled other topics too, including authenticity and civility in on-line conversations, and took questions from the audience that touched on the notion of identity and anonymity.

The formal program concluded with the first ever Ignite WordCamp.  [An “Ignite talk” is a five-minute talk, consisting of 20 slides, that advance automatically at 15-second intervals.]  The result was a series of witty, fast-paced sessions that provided a great (and ‘lighter’) end to a day full of detailed content.  My favorite part? The Shockingly Big IE6 Warning plugin!

 

Shockingly Big IE6 Warning

 

The Last  Word

From my perspective, the conversations were free-flowing (check the Twitter stream at #wcbos), and attendees were having a great time – with a duo of rappers and a Sumo wrestling match adding a bit of additional ‘atmosphere.’  On top of it all, contributions to a canned food drive netted attendees free parking, and the newly formed WPCares raised several thousand dollars for the Haiti relief effort.

Kudos to the organizing committee for pulling off such a mammoth event as well as to the multitude of sponsors that continue to show support for the greater New England technical communities.  WordCamp Boston 2010 has definitely set a high bar for community geek events in this area!