I had heard great things about WordCamp2011, so I knew WordCamp2012 was a going to be a useful professional development experience. WordCamp is a conference revolving around using the open source web development software, WordPress. I was impressed with how incredibly well organized it was, everything from registration to the final keynote. Startup Edmonton were good hosts and Roast Coffeehouse completely spoiled attendees with fresh coffee and delicious baked goods*.
One thing that caught me off-guard about WordCamp was the role that social media played in tying the conference together. Never before have I seen an event so effortlessly and effectively transformed by social media, specifically Twitter. I suppose this shouldn’t have come as a surprise given all the creative muscle possessed by the organizers and participants. WordCamp was truly Twitter in its purest form. Not only were people networking using Twitter, but also WordCamp’s hash tag, #wcyeg, was a bustling forum of discussion about the sessions of the day. The presenters were all amazing, but sadly, you had to choose one session over another. Fortunately, Twitter allowed attendees to sit in on one session and follow along in another, so you were never really missing what was going on in the next room.
Obviously, Twitter is no substitute for connecting with someone in the flesh, but it played a huge role in the conference by quickly connecting beginners with experts in a meaningful way. As one of the presenters pointed out in his presentation, social media is only one tool in the tool kit. While it may only be one tool, it took my WordCamp experience to the next level. No one at WordCamp2012 invented Twitter, but organizers, presenters, and attendees clearly knew how to use that tool to its full potential.
* I ate too many chocolate croissants.
Tim Henderson, Office and Communications Coordinator