A day well spent at WordCamp Philly


I go to WordCamp not because I am a programmer, but because I am a member of the WordPress community. I’m a user, I’m an advocate and someone with questions.  On October 30th I attended my third WordCamp, WordCamp Philly (@wordcampphilly / / wordcampphilly.com/#wcphilly), and I was not disappointed.

This idea of community was something that Owen Winkler (@ringmasterhttp://owenw.com) did a great job at describing in his session “Be one of us: The WordPress Community”.  He spoke to all of the ways that someone can participate in the WordPress community through posting to forums, attending meet-ups and WordCamps, to more detailed ways of participating including posting screencast, writing documentation and the contribution of themes, plugin, and code.  It was a feeling that went throughout the day at WordCampPhilly.

One of the things that got me really excited was the keynote.  At the past two WordCamps I attended (NYC ’09 & Boston) the keynotes were good, but hearing from Munir Mandviwalla (@mandviwa) and how he is using open source and WordPress at Temple’s Fox School of Business was refreshing.  As an educator and a Director of Technology, his keynote really spoke to me as we, as educators, often look to colleges and universities for trends and in this case it showed that both secondary and higher education seem to be thinking that same things.  I also thought that it was a great topic and theme for audience as a whole to hear as it was not an area where many of the people in the room may have much experience, outside of their own educational experiences. Munir spoke of the power of blogging by both professors and students. How professors work carried the same weight on the blog and of the viral nature of what they are doing within the University as a whole.   They were using a model of having a proof of concept that they could point to within the university that point to the benefits of using open source, social media and WordPress in an educational setting to connect people both inside and outside of the classroom and school. I want to thank both Munir and the WordCamp Philly organizers for this keynote.

I would characterize the day as one where I found out what I didn’t know.  I always tell people, I know enough to be dangerous with WordPress and that I don’t know what I don’t know… today filled in some of those gaps.

Jim Doran’s (@jimdoran jimdoran.net) session, “20 Things the New WordPress User Should Know” expanded my understanding of WordPress 3.0.  I was able to hear about the new Custom Post Types and gain a better understanding of some of the top plugins to use with your site.

The General Public License (GPL) was not something that I was really clear on until Jason Coleman’s (@jason_colemanstrangerstudios.com ) session, “Business Models for Plugin/Theme Distribution” where I was able to hear how the GPL is applied to theme and plugin distribution.  A split license can be applied to the fees associate with premium themes and plugins as the CSS, images and JavaScript are not covered under the GPL, but even them it seems like a fine line.  The idea of consumers paying a premium for support or other value added pieces seemed to be the key point to the discussion.  I found it very helpful as someone who is more of a user, than developer and gave me a better idea of what it was that I should or have to pay for. Thanks Jason!

I don’t know what was more spooky… the things I saw in “Spooky WP: Disturbingly Brilliant Uses of WP” or the mullet worn by Brian Messenlehner (@bmess).  Both he and Brad Williams (@williamsba) of WebDevStudios (webdevstudios.com) showed how you can think outside of the box and build things using WordPress that you might not of thought of.  They demoed IPFree.ly, an app they developed for the iTunes store that allow you to track certain bodily functions and uses some custom fields to plot geolocation data.  They also showed how they were able to create a Facbook app using WordPress and HP’s Photobook API.

Again, like the others I have attended, the Philly WordCamp did not disappoint. I walked away at the end of the day knowing more than when I started and wanting to know when and where the next WordCamp would be that I could attend.


About William Stites

Currently the Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy, "Blogger in Chief" for edSocialMedia.com, husband and father to two crazy kids who make me smile everyday.
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