Wordcamp Australia 2008

This past weekend I was very pleased to be at the first second* Wordcamp in Australia. There were about 60 people present over a 2 day period to share WordPress related ideas and project experiences in the local area.

Among other delights, I was very pleased to hear that WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg was an arts major in college and could even remember a bit of TS Eliot.

There is a line (bottom right footer) on the WordPress.org site which says “code is poetry” .  Now I understand where some of that influence comes from and why the photo essays work so well.

For the Wordcamp Australia photo essay from Matt check out this collection loaded up a few hours ago.

As some of you know – I’m very enthusiastic about using WordPress as a web framework and platform which includes blogging but goes further as well.

For me – intentions are very important and it was great to feel part of a group who have generally managed to combine altruistic intentions with some very practical and savvy online skills.

New Zealander Dan Milward of Instinct was a keynote presenter and sponsor for the event. Pics of Dan Wp-Ecommerce is huge ( 60,000+ sites) and is a product extension that I am actively working with on a number of sites. It was also real privilege for me to share a few ideas from the NZ side of the Tasman.

There is even a bit of a plan to organise a WordPress NZ event so please use the contact form to let me know if you are in/near NZ and would be interested in that idea.

Matt has managed to combine a huge amount of experience and street smarts in his 24 years on this planet.

He is a genuinely nice guy and  deserves all the kudos he gets. Matt also mentioned that the wordcamp idea of having small grassroots style meet-ups to help link local WordPress users and practitioners was a deliberate intention. This is another reason why I Iove WordPress. Think global – act local.

Alignment or needs, directions and intentions are all much more sustainable and better for us. I have tried to articulate some of these ideas in an Ethos page.

I was particularly interested in presentations by Karel Segers and David Wolf on film & video related projects. At times the conference veered between technical topics and back towards the blogging side including journalism considerations.

The sessions took place in a performance venue called The Red Box and co-organiser Sam Bauers managed to arrange a acrobatic performance from some of the regular Red Box users just after lunch.

Anthony Cole and Sam Bauers did an excellent job in organising the conference and on also making it all very accessible as well.

I have already been using WordPress version 2.7 for some weeks (along with 30,000 other beta testers.) We found out a bit more about the 2.7 version which looks like it may come out before Christmas. It is a major user interface upgrade and presenter Jane Wells gave us some insights in to the development process.

Jane also mentioned her involvement at the WordPress in Education camps which is a special interest of mine. I’m especially interested in the best ways to enable ‘Private’ blogging so students and teachers, get to practice and experiment online in a safe space (such as a group blog password protected with access to the class.)

Earlier this year we used WordPress as the core system to promote the LittledayOut which was a community fund-raising for a local school. Since then we have been working on a  number of back room projects to find the best ways to enable schools and other education facilities using some of those ideas and the WordPress MU framework. See also the full MU site.

I was particularly interested in the BuddyPress project which is something like what you might imagine facebook or myspace would look like if those systems had some taste*. It makes huge sense to leverage social networking on a more “clean look” basic for the more than 12m or so websites based on WordPress.

(* Sidenote – Myspace and Facebook work well enough its just that they look very messy as the temptation to overload the pages with widgets and moving objects is too great for many of the site-owners.  So love that anyone can have a go – I just prefer the less is more approach.)

I remember using gravatars (portable icons) in the early days when they crashed all the time due to huge growth. Now as part of the Automattic / WordPress family add personality to millions of sites. BuddyPress will add an extra dimension like a super gravatar.

There are still many ideas to keep processing. Thanks again to the wordcamp team.

Other Wordcamp Info / Its early days but expect there will be a fair number of posts from other attendees. here is a selection of the first few I found.

(*Update: Looks like there was an earlier Wordcamp in Melbourne in 2007.)

Dan Milward from Instinct was a key presenter and wrote many notes as well.

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