In January of 2003, Matt Mullenweg wrote “The Blogging Software Dilemma.” In the post, he wondered why Michel Valdrighi had stopped development on his web logging platform, b2/cafelog, and if he needed to seek an alternative. Concerned about the licensing issues behind applications like Textpattern and MovableType, he began to dream of something bigger that was accessible to all.
That two-paragraph post changed the Internet forever. Mullenweg went on to fork b2/cafelog and began WordPress. Built on his philosophy of freedom, this content management system, or CMS, flourished into one of the most widely supported and actively developed platforms around.
As of 2014, an estimated 75 million sites were using WordPress, including microsites from Google, Mozilla, eBay and Harvard. The Rolling Stones and Beyonce use it. So does this blog. This CMS is ubiquitous and a part of your life, whether you realize it or not.
That is why it is important to support this community through events like WordCamp.
WordCamp is a series of user-generated conferences primarily focused around technology and the web. Mullenweg hosted the first event in San Francisco in 2006. By the next year, it went international.
“The WordPress community has grown in Philadelphia,” said Doug Stewart, a Senior Systems Engineer at 10up. “We have something like 1450 members of our monthly Meetup group.”
Stewart is a WordPress Core Committer with a couple of plugins to his name. He, along with the WP teacher, Reed Gustow, help to organize the annual WordCamp Philly event.
“This is truly a community event,” said Gustow. “It brings people together to learn more about WordPress and to meet the people who are doing new things with it.”
The keynote speaker at this year’s event is Aaron Jorbin, a Technical Architect at Conde Nast. Jorbin will speak about the principles and philosophies of WordPress that were born out of Mullenweg’s vision 12 years ago. He also has a special affinity for the Philadelphia event.
“WordCamp Philly has long been one of my favorite WordCamps,” said Jorbin. “It’s a great community and they put on a solid event year after year. On a personal note, it’s also the place I met the woman I love.”
The first WordCamp Philly was held in 2009. During its formative years, each speaker was given an hour and not every event had a keynote speaker. It quickly became apparent that not everyone needed a full hour. Some speakers were done after 20 minutes.
As the event evolved over the years, the sessions were trimmed down to allow for more speakers and enough time between events to get from one to the next. Since it is anticipated that nearly 400 people will attend the first night of the event alone, timing is key.
So, who are the 400 people who will flock to the University of the Sciences on the same date as a Taylor Swift concert? *tumbleweeds*
“Anyone who has an interest in WordPress,” said Gustow. “We want the kind of cross-fertilization that allows designers and developers to talk to one another. People get in silos and we want to end that.”
Stewart and Gustow believe that Jorbin was correct in his assessment of this local event.
“The events themselves reflect character of people in the city,” said Stewart. “Some are more academic. Bigger ones like New York or San Francisco, they can be too big and cramped. Philly doesn’t feel like a big city. It is a city of neighborhoods and feels like the world’s largest town. We try to reflect that ethos with WordCamp.”
The organizers scrutinized every little detail to evoke that Philly feeling, right down to the WordPress-shaped pretzels. If that is not a sign of a terrific event, what is?
WordCamp Philly will take place on June 13-14 at the University of the Sciences. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit philly.wordcamp.org/2015
(Photo credit: Reed Gustow)