WordCamp Boulder a gathering of the cult

400 came, learned and schmoozed at Boulder Theatre

| Jul 11, 2010

AVID: Audience gave Jeff Finkelstein of Customer Paradigm close attention for his tips on search engine optimization. (Reporter photo)

Oh sure. It’s easy to laugh now. But yesterday was grueling, trapped inside the Boulder Theatre for a day-long WordCamp Boulder, a geeky gathering of the WordPress faithful for five consecutive hour-long tutorials and a schmoozy social hour as the summer sun shone relentlessly outside.

Was it worth it to me, a WordPress user? Oh my yes, but then I’d only traveled two miles to get there. What, I wondered, were the afterthoughts of the eager young man I met who’d driven 11 hours to get here from Las Cruces, N.M.?

WordPress, for the uninitiated, provides the software underpinnings (geekspeak: “platform”) for publishing blogs, and is being increasingly used as a content management system (geekspeak acronym: CMS) for publishing all manners of websites. It’s powerful all right, especially with all the third-party predesigned formats (“themes”) and add-on tools (plug-ins”) available for it, many of them (like WordPress itself) for the price of (drum roll) free.

Powerful, yes. Easy to learn, alas, not terribly. Not if you want to do more than produce a garden-variety blog using default values for about a zillion different variables you might prefer to change. That’s where WordCamp and a bustling industry of people teaching and learning WordPress come in.

As for our cult gathering in Boulder, I thoroughly enjoyed the session with Boulder’s Mayor of the Internet Dave Taylor and Doyle Albee of Metzger Associates holding forth on how to create a community around your blog or website. Good stuff, especially their dissecting of the Daily Camera‘s free-for-all commenting policy. And I took copious notes for the session, pictured above, with Jeff Finkelstein of Customer Paradigm in Ft. Collins, handing out tips about SEO (that acronym, for the hideously out of touch, stands for search engine optimization).

Additional sessions on “blogging for your business” and “do-it-yourself usability testing” were also densely loaded with very usable information for me as a web publisher and website strategy consultant. I pounded away on my iPad taking down gems of wisdom from the assembled experts.

Someone remarked that it kind of felt like going back to college, as we sallied forth from topic to topic, some of us moving as needed between the Boulder Theatre and two other nearby venues.

Last year’s WordCamp for the region had been in Denver. Congrats to those who made the bid and did the work to bring it to Boulder this year. I counted roughly 400 attendees, equally divided between professionals (web designers and developers who use WordPress for client sites) and users (people who blog on WordPress individually and those whose enterprises use it as a platform).

Did you attend? What did you think?

Are you a WordPress cult member? If you’d like a reasonably coherent copy of my notes from the sessions I attended, e-mail me at [email protected].