WordCamp US 2016 Philadelphia

So this year has been a relatively quiet year for me on the WordPress front. I’ve been hard at work on a large scale music education project that has kept me from attending many WordCamps or being very active in the WordPress world as a whole. Since it’s been hard for me to make much time for events, I wanted to make sure to attend WordCamp US this year. Since I only made it to two other WordCamps this year (Miami-Feb and Minneapolis-May), this was my best chance to see lots of friends in one swoop.

This year was a unique trip for me because I was asked to attend by Sucuri who I believe is the best security company in the WordPress space. In my 10+ years in the Air Force, I was an Intelligence Officer so you can imagine security was very near and dear to my heart. Getting to know Tony Perez and Dre Armeda from Sucuri over the years, we’ve had many amazing conversations about our time serving our country, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and security. Since I was planning to attend WordCamp US already, it was a no brainer to help my dear friends spread the gospel of security as a “brand ambassador.”sucurisecurity_2016-dec-04


Hallway Track

I don’t generally get to a lot of the sessions at the big camps, this year was no exception. The only session I attended was Andrew Nacin’s talk about his time working in the government since leaving Audrey Capital. I alway love Nacin’s sessions and I wanted to hear about his experience since I had essentially done the opposite by leaving the government to pursue my own endeavors which have included WordPress for the last 7 or 8 years.

The Hallway Track is where the interactions happen. Trying to walk past all the booths at WordCamp US is much like trying to walk the red carpet at a major media event. You have people trying to talk to you from every direction. This is a great place to chat with people and see what people have been up to and what new things are happening in the WordPress world. Since Sucuri didn’t have a booth at the event, there was no pressure to stay in one place and I had the freedom to roam and see what conversations happened naturally. The most common question I got all weekend was, “When did you start working at Sucuri?”


Friday After Party

Friday night I went with the Sucuri team to the GiveWP/Media Temple get together. First off thanks to both of them for putting on a fantastic party! I had a great time and great conversations with many people I don’t see very often. It was great to talk to Tom McFarlin since I had never met him in person before and we got to talk about everything from parenting to web development.

After leaving the party, we found our way to an amazing taco spot before heading back to the hotel to crash. It was nice to be able to catch up with Jeff Chandler from WP Tavern at our late night dinner and talk about much of what happened the first day at the event. I always enjoy spending time with Jeff. There was a lot of drama at this camp over a sponsor being removed from the bill the night before because they had partaken in some marketing that was felt to be of an unapproved nature. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on it but it’s always great to talk to Jeff because he tries to stay away from the drama and just get to the facts of the events in his reporting. I always appreciate his direct candor and willingness to go against the grain if the facts lead him there.


State of the Word (SOTW)

Matt held his annual State of the Word at the end of the day on Saturday to wrap up the formal part of the event. He covered the growth of WordPress since the 2015 event and mapped out a lot of the way ahead. You can get a full recap of the SOTW at Post Status, so I’ll spare the details here. This year’s SOTW seemed a little flatter than it has to me in previous years. It is starting to feel more like a political speech than anything else. While I appreciate the info and in the past I felt it gave me vectors on how to grow my business in the coming year, this year it felt much flatter than in the past. The idea of having someone get up on stage in a suit and tie to tell me about the open source community I’m involved in feels a little bit off to me.


Saturday After Party

The official event after party was held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. It was the first time I’ve been to a WordCamp after party that had dinosaurs. The organizers did a great job putting on a party in a place that didn’t feel like it was typically used for parties. If you’ve never been to a WordCamp before, the after party is a great time to talk to people even some that you’ve never met before. Everyone is there to relax and unwind after a long two day event and you’ll likely get the opportunity to meet people you follow online or you see contributing to WordPress on Trac in an environment that doesn’t feel threatening at all.


Wrap Up

All in all it was an amazing weekend with old friends and new. The highlight for me was being able to train with Dre Armeda and Justin Mazzi (Pressed) on Friday at lunch. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a major part of my life and the fact that I get to share those experiences with people in the WordPress community is the best! I also got to spend a lot of time with the team Sucuri brought to the event and I get to know the amazing folks that are working hard every day to make the Internet a more secure place. If you have a website, you should seriously look into Sucuri and what their platform can do for you! Thanks Dre and Tony for letting me tag along with your team! Look forward to building our BJJ Rolling tradition next year in Nashville! dremeda_2016-dec-02