WordCamp Montreal 2011

It was WordCamp Montreal 2011 this past weekend (July 9-10), my first since starting to use WordPress last fall. WordCamps are conferences dedicated to those interested in WordPress; while the main WordCamp happens every year in San Francisco, WordCamps take place around the world.

As with all conferences, it’s difficult to please everyone all of the time, but WCMTL’s two tracks (roughly divided as Users and Developers) did a great job of giving everyone something at their level. The organizers’ choice of speakers was solid (I can speak only from the Development track), and they kept things moving. It was a positive and exciting vibe the whole weekend with great Montreal summer weather, and everyone’s butt was a little nicer yesterday from the hill between the two buildings (the venue was the UQAM Cœur des sciences).

A few logistical issues could be improved for next year. Smoother food services at the start of the Saturday and seating for the meals would have made the breaks a little more enjoyable. Luckily, with good weather, most people spilled out on to the steps out front. Recycling was also noticeably absent, something requested by the organizers but never provided by the venue.

Public speaking is a talent in and of itself, regardless of the material being presented. While some of the talks were a little… dry, most were animated and useful. My own highlights included Ptah Dunbar, Nacin and Otto, and Matt Mullenweg (more on him below). I missed the last three talks on Saturday as I was off to see the U2 show; on Sunday, I overheard a few mentions of Tom Auger’s talk also.

A few of the talks were given by teams of two, and the interaction of two passionate speakers going back and forth on their subject made it a lot more engaging for the viewer (Nacin and Otto’s talk was an excellent example). Hopefully we’ll see more talks by multiple presenters in the future – it really helps keep the energy up while discussing what can be pretty technical material.

WCMTL was fortunate enough to secure Matt Mullenweg, a co-creator of WordPress, for a Town Hall-style talk on the Sunday (his first WordCamp of the year). Matt is a charming, modest and inspired fellow who so obviously loves what he does, and it was great to hear him field questions on everything from humble beginnings to big future plans. He was also asked about WordPress’s association with the Illuminati, but quietly deflected the question so as not to put any of us at risk. Thanks, Matt.

I was there not just for the conference, but as a volunteer – check out my photos (as well as those from the awesome Elida Arrizza and others) at the WCMTL Flickr group.

All the talks were videotaped and will be available on WordPress.tv, while slides from many of the talks are or will be available on SlideShare.

At $40 for two full days (including lunches and snacks – early registration was even cheaper), WordCamp Montreal 2011 was very much worth it. A big thanks to all the organizers, speakers and volunteers that made it happen.

Hope to see you there next year!

Published by

Kirk Wight

I am a Code Wrangler at Automattic, helping make WordPress.com the best it can be. Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada is where I call home. Lover, not a fighter.

4 thoughts on “WordCamp Montreal 2011”

  1. Hey man thanks for the kind writeup.

    Interestingly almost all the speakers you mentioned were the big-name celebrities from out of town that we convinced to come. Tom Auger isn’t really a big name but is also from out of town. One of our goals is to ensure that lots of local people also speak and that WCMTL is ultimately a Montreal event featuring Montreal talent. The tradeoff is that we have to try out new people so in some ways it ends up being an ‘open mic’ kind of affair (I don’t interview people in person for example, so bad speakers who write good talk proposals end up in the schedule occasionally). I hope that most talks are at least useful if not super-entertaining and generally people seem to agree that they have educational value in the end.

    Hope to see you next year 🙂

    1. Absolutely; it’s the mix that gives everyone who goes something to learn and to relate to. I also really enjoyed Ron and Andrea, Yannick and the StressLimit guys – good stuff!

  2. I’m glad you liked the talk with Nacin and me, but I have to inform you, for full disclosure reasons, that we were kinda just making it up as we went along. 🙂

    However, I did get some responses that that sort of “advanced” talk was what some people really liked. Is that actually the case? I’ve always been afraid of going over the heads of some people in the room, but if crazy code stuff is what people want, I can start swinging that at WC’s, no problem. And I’m always willing to shoot back and forth with Nacin, we do that sort of thing all the time anyway.

    1. It’s the making it up as you go along (with a basic structure to start from) that makes it engaging. As long as the speakers really know their stuff, that kind of loose adventure through a topic always keeps me interested and makes me feel like I saw something special and unique.

      As long as the topic is listed as Advanced, I don’t think any viewer will be put off by an advanced talk (even if it is over their heads). Your talk was definitely beyond my current skills and knowledge, but it allows developers like me to get an idea of what’s “beyond our horizon”, so to speak. If nothing else, we learn a few things and stay excited about what we might be getting into in the future.

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