After an early morning ride with Lisa and two other fellow WordCamp attendees followed by an extra strong cup of coffee, WordCamp Jerusalem is underway. Miriam Schwab thanked the people arriving from Tel Aviv for their extra efforts in making their way to the conference (we were on the road at 07:15, before I normally even wake up).
And at that point yesterday, the WiFi at the Jerusalem College of Technology, a religious school, filtered access to WordPress.com, as well as to other sites apparently. As several people pointed out this was rather ironic given the driving idea behind WordPress. Fortunately, twitter continued to work and, besides the inevitable moaners and wailers, the twitter stream for #wcjeru was very active.
Overall my experience at WordCamp this year was on a completely different level from earlier WordCamps I attended and serious kudos to WordCamp Jerusalem for not only bringing in gifted and professional local WordPress developers/designers but also for tapping into the web design community as well. The most interesting session I attended during the day was “UX Cookbook: Creating Delicious WordPress Sites” where Barak Danin of UXI.org.il talked about how users experience your site and how you want them to experience your site. I came away with a lot of insights and more importantly, lots of questions that I will now try to answer.
Networking was an important and, thankfully, built-in part of the WordCamp Jerusalem program. There’s no question that when so many people who regularly see one another at conferences of this sort get together there will be networking involved. Having time to talk, swap information and brainstorm ideas with other WordPress enthusiasts acts as an incubator for further collaborations. One idea I chatted over the lunchtime break with Yoav Farhi was the possibility of a local WordPress.com meetup. Stay tuned! (And for those of you looking for the “How to go from zero to hero” learning site for WordPress.com that Matt mentioned, it’s there in my sidebar under Blogging Gurus.)
Needless-to-say, the Town Hall meeting at the end of the day with Matt Mullenweg was the highlight of the day for me and many people. Matt talked about the development of WordPress, complimented the local community for being so active, was asked questions about WordPress usability and the future of WordPress and also said he liked the beaches in Tel Aviv.
So, Matt, here’s a small souvenir to take home from a beach a bit south of Tel Aviv, a lively reminder of why the beaches here are just so darn hot. (Back to the version posted originally, which appears to have been replaced officially due to concerns about the music first used, an ABBA/dance mix.)
Again, kudos to Miriam Schwab and her team (and, of course, the sponsors) for putting together an event that set the standard for future WordCamps in Israel.
More event posts you might enjoy:
- Gil Reich does Best of WordCamp Jerusalem
- Video of the Q&A session with Matt (via @ Felix Wasserstein-w/blog post in Hebrew)
- Photos by Elad (where the back of my head got lots of exposure. )
- Photos by Lisa (a different Lisa than the one mentioned above.)
- Photos by Reuven
- Photos by Eyal Sela
- Photos by WCJerusalem
- Israeli Security Hates the iPad (oops)
- Photos by Matt
- Behind the Scenes of WordCamp Jerusalem
- וורדפרס: מגרסת מילים
- חוויות ורשמים מוורדקמפ 2010
- WordCamp Jerusalem 5/9/2010 (in Hebrew)
- (If you know of any more, please add them in the comments.)
Illuminea (the only Israeli company listed in Automattic‘s “CodePoet“) is organizing #wordcampjeru this year and as they pointed out, setting up and running a WordCamp is more work than they first expected. Regardless, the announcement came less than a month before camp date and things have been moving along at quite a brisk pace. With less than two weeks to go, there are already over 200 people who have RSVP’ed their attendance, planned speakers from abroad include Automattic’s Barry Abrahamson and Raanan Bar-Cohen, local speakers include Yoav Farhi, one of two local Happiness Engineers (the other being Ran Yaniv Hartstein, the person responsible for WordPress_HE), Hannit Cohen, Jonathan Klinger, Ma’ayan Alexander, who are familiar names from previous WordCamps IL and quite a few names new to me.
Did I say I was excited?
Like most WordCamps, the self-hosted Org version takes center stage and while the event is open to both WordPress.com and WordPress.org users, the last two WordCamps have made me feel like we’re the poor relation. I’m not sure why that should be given that the number of blogs on WordPress.com now being mentioned is 15 million (click on that photo of Raanan to see where we were in 2008). Granted that we don’t have the sheer number of options available to us that Org users do, especially on the developer end of things (all that is done for us), but there are a lot of tricks up the Com sleeve that many users don’t know about and those that do aren’t sure how to use (like Jabber, Twitter API, webhooks, and other esoterica).
But, I’m still excited.
The three tracks offered this year are: Beginning Developers, Advanced Developers and Publishers. I think you can guess which track I’ll be in. So here’s what I’ll be learning this year, according to the WordCamp Jerusalem website (and, of course, subject to change):
Tools and techniques for building accessible websites
In this lecture we will learn techniques for developing more accessible websites according to WCAG 2.0, the guidelines for creating accessible online content. We will get to know tools that help you learn the rules for accessibility and to uphold them – as part of the design and development process.An accessible website improves user experience and can help increase traffic. When a site is more accessible, a wider range of people can use its content. In some cases, an accessible site will be more useful for users without disabilities.Lecturer: Eyal Sela. Track: Publishers. Language: Hebrew
UX Cookbook: Creating Delicious WordPress Sites
You’re using WordPress for your site. You’ve got a great theme, and an excellent programmer. But what do you ask that programmer to do? How do you create a WordPress site that people want to read and will be able to find what they’re looking for? Who are these people anyways? In this lecture Barak will explain how to plan a successful site by looking through the eyes of the user. He will show some examples using WordPress, and give you practical tools that you can use when planning your own site.
Lecturer: Barak Danin. Track: Publishers. Language: Hebrew
Panel: How are you using WP to revolutionize your industry? Non-profit, Politics, and Education
This panel will look at how WordPress is used in each of their industries in unique ways to achieve their non-profit, political and educational goals.
Panelists: Ma’ayan Alexander, Nir Hirshman, Sharon Greenberg. Track: Publishers. Language: Hebrew
Optimizing WordPress to be your social media & SEO hub
WordPress is a social platform. In terms of SEO, most WP themes are pretty optimized out of the box. However, there’s more you can do to take your WordPress site to the next level. This lecture will show you plugins and simple hacks that you can use to help your site reach its full social media and SEO potential.
Lecturer: Miriam Schwab. Track: Publishers. Language: English
GPL and how it affects WordPress theme and plugin development
Since GPL began to evolve, there have been many debates (and Jonathan has had the pleasure of taking part in at least one of them) about the virtues of free software. However, the recent events and announcements about WordPress and GPL show that the basic freedoms of the GPL are not what the Free Software Movement has in mind when they interpret the license, and sometimes their interpretation may harm the community rather than help it.
Lecturer: Jonathan Klinger. Track: Publishers. Language: English
Panel: Do we still need blogs in the age of facebook?
The elephant in the room: with most of the world on facebook, and twitter growing like crazy, do we still really need blogs and websites? Aren’t blogs so 2009? Or do we still need our own place on the web? This panel will discuss current internet trends and how they see them as affecting the future.
Panelists: To be announced. Track: Closing Session. Language: To be announced.
Quite an ambitious outing! I don’t know how much will be applicable to the various sites I host on WordPress.com, but I can’t think of a better way to spend the day than to be with people that eat, sleep and breath WordPress.
If you’re another WordPress.com enthusiast attending WordCamp Jerusalem and would like to meet and discuss our favorite blogging platform, leave a note in the comments (publicly visible) or use the contact form on my *About page (private message). Look for the gray, spiky-haired woman, but I’ll be coming without my kite.
I purposely waited a few days to publish this because I wanted to focus on some points that seemed important to me at the time in order to see if they still were important to me. This was the second WordCamp Israel and my second time attending. This year rather than write a detailed review of the event, I want to share some of my impressions. If you’re looking for a review, Rebecca Markowitz at WordPressGarage wrote up an excellent piece on her experience.
The Venue: Presentations took place in two separate rooms, a large lecture hall and smaller meeting room, joined by a central foyer, all three areas being utilized during the event. Last minute changes meant the schedule was somewhat different than the one originally published on the WordCamp Israel site and in the folder handed out. This led to a bit of confusion and me sitting in the wrong room more often than not during the day. All sessions were recorded and hopefully this year they will also be released for viewing, so I hope to catch up on those presentations I missed.
The Purpose: One of the stated goals of this year’s WordCamp was creating an opportunity for NGOs and WordPress enthusiasts to come together to promote blogging as a tool for social change/awareness. Honestly speaking, however, I’m not sure how this was achieved. The eight or so NGOs attending were invited to give a short overview of their organization in a “Hyde Park” corner speakers venue. Unfortunately, this was done in the foyer area, which had terrible acoustics, especially given that at the same time the NGOs were giving their shpiel, the WordPress enthusiasts were schmoozing with other WordPress enthusiasts. The NGOs would have been much better served if they’d had their airtime in the lecture hall and also stated what assistance they were looking for from the WP community. Maybe they did, but only one presenter understood that even with a microphone in hand she needed to talk loudly to be heard. The rest were swallowed up by the background noise. I would be happy to hear from someone in the comments that there was more interaction between the NGOs and WP community than just the “Hyde Park” session described above. This was a real opportunity for the virtual world to assist others in making an impact on the real world.
WordPress.COM or WordPress.ORG? Miriam Schwab of WordPressGarage, israelplug and Illuminea gave a half-hour presentation on using WordPress.com and the Hebrew Blogli (which apparently runs on WordPress MU) as a blogging platform, but I didn’t hear her, yet. (See my note above.) During his informative talk, Automattic’s Raanan Bar Cohen asked his audience how many were blogging on COM and the ballpark answer he gave was about 20% of those in the room. In other words, one fifth of WordCamp attendees could not utilize a large part of the information being shared during WordCamp, such as plug-ins, advertising, creating templates, using Google Analytics, etc. The impromptu “Ask a Geek” mini-session at the very end of the day mixed it up even further after someone asked where they could get the WordPress API key to use for Akismet on their ORG blog, which is only available by registering for a COM account. Given the numbers, (check the bottom of my sidebar), it would seem appropriate to have a bit more COM centric information.
Putting together such an extensive program in two months is a huge (huge!) undertaking and the organizers again deserve kudos for pulling it off. With the popularity of blogging in general and WordPress specifically as a free, open source blogging platform, there is a large and diverse user base coming to WordCamp looking for information. I don’t know what it is like at other WordCamps, but it seemed to me the attendees in Israel consisted of people who have next-to or zero technical knowledge and who want to blog, all the way up to WordPress developers. Trying to address the needs of such a diverse group is difficult in the extreme and I think having parallel sessions was a step in the right direction.
All-in-all, WordCamp Israel was a great opportunity to learn more about my favorite blogging platform, as well as meet up with new and old friends and netfriends. Already looking forward to next year.
WordCampIsrael2008 is over. Still mulling over today’s event, so not putting anything down quite yet. Meanwhile here are the only decent photos I managed to take with the new camera. (The one of me pulling my hair out after downloading the photos from my camera isn’t here.)
Also on flickr
One thing I will mention here. For any of the WordPress.COM WordCampIsrael attendees that still don’t know that WordPress.COM runs Google Ads on WordPress.COM blogs, please read the COM Features page, specifically at the very, very bottom, where it talks about advertising. Then read this FAQ about why and this interesting interview of Matt Mullenweg.
OK-one more thing. There is a social bookmarking tool for WordPress.COM blogs. It’s called “GetSocial” and it was created by an Israeli WP developer, Hillel Stoler. You can read more about it in my post, “Social Bookmarking for the WP.COM Masses“
There are nearly 400 people signed up and a long waiting list for this year’s WordCamp. Really an incredible interest and response even compared to last year’s 200+attendees. But, just like last year’s event, a significant number of people who signed up will not able to attend. If that’s you, please inform the organizers to make someone on the waiting list a happy blogger!