WordCamp 2008 Weekend Summary

This past weekend’s WordCamp in San Francisco renewed my spirit for WordPress and the ginormous community that supports it.

I’ve attended WordCamp events in the past, and they’ve been spectacular. The 2008 event however, exceeded all expectations I had.

wordpress-schwag

WordPress Schwag

It started with a hasslefree flight to San Francisco Airport from LAX at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I had volunteered to assist while at WordCamp so why was internally a bit nervous about experiencing flight delays. Fortunately, my geek traveling buddy Curtis Cunningham and myself, made it to SFO airport early (thanks SWA), getting us to the convention center before the nine o’clock registration.

Unlike San Francisco WordCamp 2006 and 2007, this event was held at the Mission Bay Conference Center instead of the Swedish-American hall. In my experience, the conference center at UCSF was an excellent place to hold this event.

We hopped out of a cab in front of a welcoming WordCamp San Francisco placard. Of course we stopped to take photos in front of it, as did nearly every other person I saw getting out of taxis at our time of arrival.

WordCamp San Francisco 2008

We are in the right place -- WordCamp San Francisco 2008

Registration was a breeze and I really liked how the name tags included avatars (gravatars), blog URLs, and first names in bold letters. WordCamp staff and volunteers did an excellent job with those. Who has a photo of one?

I was in the second floor sessions all day didn’t get a chance to listen to any of the developer sessions that were held down stairs. If anyone has some good summaries of those, leave a comment and I’ll update this with some links.

Among presentations given upstairs were an SEO basic and best WordPress practices presented by Stephen Spencer of Netconcepts. He gave some great tips regarding optimizing pages so they don’t squander crawl equity, talked about offering more than one RSS feed, and discussed the importance of properly formatted SEO title tags. Although I’m aware of the practice, I was reminded to no index and no follow link use going to my admin pages on WordPress sites.

Ben Huh of I Can Has Cheezburger did a funny presentation on how to Achieve Viral Virility. The summary of his presentation was don’t be a Dick. He graciously uploaded the PDF presentation for anyone that wants to view it.

Aaron Brazell had kicked off the morning with a presentation on Search and Findability which was brought across again later in the day by Tantek Çelik and his presentation on microformats. Each presentation on Saturday seemed to build on the last, inspiring me with new ideas and motivations for getting things done.

I saw lots of familiar faces from WordCamps and BarCamps past and got to be face-to-face with lots of people I had only known from twitter profiles. I was reminded that when at events like these you should make an effort to introduce yourself to the guys and gals sitting next to you, as you may have already been conversing with them online.

When Matt Mullenweg was giving his State of the WordPress talk the guy next to me was excitedly publishing a post regarding WordPress favorite plug-ins. It turned out to be Chris Heuer, founder of Social Media Club. Being that I just spoke two weeks previously at a Social Media Club Los Angeles (SMCLA) meetup (thanks to Mahalo.com for hosting the event) with Jackie Peters, Nicole Jordan, Brian Solis, and Robert Richman, I thought I’d introduce myself and say thanks for bringing SMC to LA.

Steven Zabronsky & Derik Anderson

Steven Zabronsky & Derik Anderson

Chiropractor turned SEO, Steven Zabronsky introduced himself when we were at the Genius Bar on the first floor. Turns out he and business partner Derik Anderson (also a chiropractor) operate a company called Rocket SEO.

Not only were the presentations above my expectations, at a really good time hanging out with Curtis, Patrick Sexton, Todd Malicoat, Stephen Spencer, and David Klein (another chiropractor).

When it comes to the food I ate, I could have used the Saturday session as a carb loading day preparing for a marathon. Caffeine, bagels, some kind of sweet sugary pastries, followed by more bagels, macaroni and cheese, tri tip beef and barbecued chicken, pizza & Anchor Steam beer, and lots and lots of hefeweizen at the Saturday night open bar.

Finding pizza was an adventure. Since I pay a monthly service fee I was determined to use the GPS on my Verizon LG Voyager. As a discovered, it works better when you are in an automobile or some kind of moving vehicle. We did locate some great pizza on Potrero Hill at a place called Goat Hill Pizza. Excellent pies and hot wings with ranch dressing. Having not paid attention and just following the GPS, we ended up walking a few miles in the opposite direction of the after party, which was at Pete’s Tavern on King Street. That was some good exercise walking back.

Since we were leaving Sunday and were going to be out late I figured we were better off booking a hotel near the San Francisco airport so we wouldn’t have to get up too early for transportation. The Marriott Hotel did us right (although it was a few miles further from the airport than I expected).

We were fairly wasted when leaving the bar Saturday night and I hailed a cab ride outside the pub. The cabbie decided the rate was meter and a half (neither Curtis or I have ever heard of such a thing) since we were technically traveling into San Mateo. While the meter at the end of the trip read $44 and change, the driver calculated the total in his head to be about 80 bucks. I put it on my AMEX and figured I to check into the legitimacy later. Too drunk to argue.

Two of the idea highlights I had from the weekend were thoughts on a new WordPress plug-in that involves conditional IP redirection. Some of the guys I was hanging out with inspired me to hammer out some of my ideas and experiences dealing with big Yellow Page type companies and how they are extorting millions of dollars from business owners all across North America. Lots of blog post ideas from that.

If you’ve stuck around this far, here is a link to my wordcamp 2008 flickr set.

BTW, think I’ll be blogging here more often, so I’ve got a start working on a theme that successfully¬† encompasses the different activities I’m engaged in.