Alcázar of Seville Photos

In addition to my time walking around Seville, I spent the lat morning/early afternoon in the Alcázar. It was one of the most stunning places I have ever been. I wandered around for about four hours finding new stunning views and amazingly designed creations around each corner. It was so majestic and inspiring I even wrote poetry for the first time in years. If you go to Seville, make sure to plan at least half a day here.

Seville Photos

While I was in Seville for WordCamp Europe and spent most of my time at the conference (and practicing my speech for the conference), I had a bit of a chance one afternoon to walk around and see some sites with Tammie Lister who also took some great shots. It was great being able to chat with a WordPress person I had only had a few passing conversations with while also getting to know a city foreign to us both.

I really liked the architecture of Seville. It was a great blend of hundreds of years of styles. From the little plazas to the grand cathedral, it was stunning. I really want to head back, not only to see more of the sites, but also just to be able to relax in the plazas. Though I think I would prefer it being a bit chillier than the extreme heat of June.

WordCamp Europe 2015 pictures

WordCamp Europe 2015 was an exceptionally well run conference[1].  The content of the talks was so good that I mostly kept my camera in my bag, but managed to capture a couple of pictures during the event.

All photos are licensed CC BY-SA-NC 2.0. If you are the subject of a photo and want a difference license, just let me know.

1) Siobham McKeown, the lead organizer is accepting booking to organizer events. If you want a professional organizer, get in touch with her.

It’s time to Escape the WordPress Bubble

WordPress has a bad rap in outside circles.  While other communities are seeing WordPress as more than blog software, many still think that since WordPress supports PHP 5.2, it doesn’t also support PHP 5.6 or HHVM.  They don’t know about the all the interesting problems that WordPress solves so that users and developers can get there jobs done easier.  And this is the WordPress communities fault.

We as a community spend to much time living inside our bubble.  This is slowly changing.  People like Helen Hou-Sandí are speaking at cssconf, Jenny Wong at PHPUK, Zack Tollman at PHP[world], and Joe Dolson at CSUN (amongst many others) are getting the word out about WordPress, but we can do better, and we must do better, and we will do better.

To help WordPress developers escape the bubble, I’m creating a mailing list where we can share CFP announcements, review each others abstracts, and support each others desires to break out of the WordPress bubble. The aim is a high signal list (membership will be moderated) where knowledgeable WordPress developers can work together to improve our image.  Let’s break down this bubble.

EDIT: Jenny Wong is going to be giving a talk at WordCamp Europe on this, including some great tools to help you break out of the bubble. If you won’t be at WCEU, you can check out the livestream.

 
Join the Mailing List

The Benefits of a Good Conference Introduction

Many technical conferences have no speaker introductions or very poor introductions.  “Next up is, um *look at phone* Aaron who will be talking about, um *look at screen* The Next Big Thing”.  While this does serve the benefit of helping people make sure they are in the room they intend to be in, it doesn’t do anything to help the crowd get ready for the talk or help the speaker get ready to deliver a talk.  A good introduction on the other hand gives the speaker ethos.

Ethos is one of three components of persuasion that Aristotle identified in his treatise Rhetoric. Ethos serves as the ethical appeal.  It’s the standing a speaker has.  A good introduction explains not who a speaker is, but why they have the privilege of standing up there and presenting. When you introduce a speaker, you give them credibility. This allows them to immediately focus on logos and to a lesser degree pathos. These are Aristotle’s categories for logical and emotional appeals.

At WordCamp NYC 2014, I introduced Boone Gorges, the keynote speaker.  Let’s breakdown my introduction:

At WordCamp NYC 2010, John James Jacoby introduced our next speaker as a core committer to BuddyPress. Today, I get to introduce him as the lead developer of BuddyPress and our keynote speaker.

I am establishing him as someone with a history at the event and as someone with a prominent place in the community.

During the intervening four years, he has become a full time freelance developer, released dozens of free plugins to the WordPress community and has spent thousands of unpaid hours doing development work contributing to open source software projects.

Boone’s talk was going to focus on contributions to WordPress and the role that freelance developers have in the creation of WordPress. By mentioning his work as a full time freelancer and his contributions to the WordPress project, he can be seen right away as someone who knows about the topic. He has lived it.

He has accomplished all of this while also finishing 46th in 2014 National Crossword Tournament.

I knew that one thing Boone would mention was that he had been in the room this address was before, so I helped him establish this by mentioning his excellent placement in the National Crossword Tournament.

He secretly wishes that he has a masters degree in philosophy. He also grew up in Wisconsin, which is known more for its cheese and beer than the semi-pro football team that plays in Green Bay.

Boone isn’t just a developer, he is a person and someone who has studied philosophy. He also likes a bad football team 😀.

Please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, Boone Gorges.

I create the expectation with the audience that we are beginning.  That I am leaving so they should cheer.

If you are planning a conference, you should spend some time thinking about the introductions.  If you don’t know the speaker well enough, perhaps you can ask them to write a first draft.  If you don’t know why the speaker is going to be getting up there, perhaps you should ask yourself why they are speaking at your event.

My First WordPress Meetup

Macbook, a pen and notebook, and a smartphone

I was so scared the first time I attended a WordPress meetup. After working on a project for nearly a month, I was stuck and had no idea where to turn. Many of us have been there, especially when we are starting out. I needed help if I wanted to go farther. My friend Cory Miller has quoted an african proverb about this: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  I had gone fast, but I needed some help to go farther.

Before my first meetup I was an idler in the #wordpress IRC channel and didn’t feel like I belonged. I’d like to say that attending that day changed everything, but to be honest, nothing changed for a while. I went because I was stuck and I had a question.  At the end, during open Q&A, I asked a question that likely wasn’t very clear as it didn’t elicit many responses, but was told that I should post on the wp-hackers mailing list with it. I went home and did just that.

Attending that first meetup made it easier to attend the next month and the month after that.  Soon, attending the meetups become normal for me and I looked forward to seeing Devin, Michael, Kathleen, and the rest of the regulars.  I had found my way into a community.

Looking back on my journey with WordPress, I can’t help but be thankful that on that April day I decided to go far.