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.
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!