Me and blogging go way back.
In those days when I had political ambitions I started a WordPress.com blog to make a name for myself. I soon graduated to the self-hosted flavour and from that moment on, I was hooked.
For the non-techies amongst you, WordPress started life as a web publishing system for blogs, but these days is used for anything from ecommerce to full community websites. Still not sure what WordPress is? It powers this very blog, along with the new expat community over at XPAT.no.
As WordPress dominates my online life, I couldn't miss the opportunity to attend my first WordCamp in Oslo this weekend.
WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.
Although I've used WordPress for years, I tend to use premium themes built by others that I then tweak using CSS. Despite my IT background I'm not a developer, and my eye for design is questionable – I'm primarily a content producer who manages to cobble together websites 🙂 So, would WordCamp Norway be for me?
Thankfully, the answer was yes.
Expats at WordCamp
I booked my ticket without knowing anyone, but it didn't take me long to feel involved. I soon met Fonda, who founded and developed Stavanger Exapts, and Ricardo, who blogs over at The Oslo Eye. I got some great feedback from both on the XPAT.no project.
Throughout the day I chatted to several people all doing amazing things with WordPress. The positivity around this community is contagious. What really struck me was the amount of people who flew in – for free – to share their experiences. So kudos to Noel Tock from Happy Tables, Remkus de Vries from ForSite Media, Konstantin Kovshenin from WordPress guardians Automattic, and Frederick Townes from Mashable, amongst others.
Building communities with BuddyPress
When planning XPAT.no, I spent a long time evaluating different community solutions for WordPress and even other publishing systems. I finally settled on BuddyPress, but always had a nagging doubt in my mind due to the quiet support forums.
So I was thrilled to meet a couple of BuddyPress experts, including Tammie from Logical Binary, who gave a great presentation on “herding humans” – all about the psychological elements of designing a community. I'll be implementing several of her tips on XPAT.no and experimenting with a few ideas of my own. Tammie also encouraged me to get involved with the BuddyPress project, so you'll see over on those forums in the days and weeks to come.
Presentations to the world
The standard of talks was high and I made notes from every single one. Each presentation was live streamed to a global audience on UStream, leading to several interesting comments and conversations on Twitter, instigated by WordPress experts around the world.
The keynote from Mashable's Frederick Townes was superb – a whistle-stop tour of running a modern media business with WordPress. Frederick is an accomplished speaker and comfortably held the attention of a packed room. He peppered his talk with quick actionable tips as well as the big picture stuff.
A remarkably useful day, and a big thanks to all the organisers.
Finally, being a full-on geek conference, I came away with an awesome T-shirt.
I am a WordPress Viking!