WordCamp US 2023

National Habour, MD

I debated for a long time whether I should attend WCUS this year or not. The main reason was time. Between work projects, focusing on the apprenticeship and studying, it was also a weird period coming back from a 3-month sabbatical and I felt like I should focus more on coding than anything else.

But I ended up deciding to go. For those not familiar with it, WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users. There are 3 flagship events every year (US, Europe and Asia) and several smaller ones throughout the world.

As I said, this is a community-organized event. Automattic has nothing to do with it. But we sponsor them through WooCommerce and Jetpack and we also send Automatticians to volunteer and help out.

I have been to a few before and volunteered on some of them, including WordCamp Europe last year and it’s always an AMAZING experience.

It’s hard to explain the feeling and there are so many variables. First, working in a fully remote distributed company I only get to see my colleagues in person once in a while. After the pandemic, the company also shifted to having Division-based meetups, which means we don’t get to see colleagues who work in different divisions (hoping for a Grand Meetup soon). So these events are always a good opportunity to see people from all over the company I don’t usually see.

Second, the sense of community. It’s something that is hard to put into words. You go to these events and you see several huge companies employing hundreds of people and they exist because of WordPress. You hear the stories of how it changed someone’s life. How it helped so many people. There was a keynote by one guy who shared his story with WordPress. He told us that he was an ex-convict, and due to the way things are done in the US he wasn’t able to get a job or a house because he had a criminal record and how the WordPress community inclusiveness helped him change his life. You can watch the whole Keynote here.

There’s another really good one presented by the founder of WebGyrlz Code, which is a nonprofit that focuses on computer science training for girls and women.

Also, a good reminder that:

Tones of amazing talks about accessibility.

There was also a really good one: For All Userkind: NASA Web Modernization and WordPress.

You see how people get together during contributors’ day to help improve the product. You see the magic behind Open Source Software. It’s energizing.

So joining these events is more about pleasure than it is about work. But this time was a bit different.

This time, since I was on my Sabbatical I missed the deadline to volunteer to staff the event. But, as I mentioned, Automattic also sponsors it, so we usually have two booths there, one for Jetpack® and one for Woo® and the volunteers we send to staff those booths are always picked a bit later in the year, so I was back to work right in time to volunteer to staff the Woo booth.

And why was that different? Not only in the division I am part of, we were ALSO showcasing our new Tap To Pay mobile feature which is something my team developed.

So that took the whole experience to a new level of awesomeness!

So, one of the things in WordCamps is to go through the sponsor’s hall visit their booths and grab amazing swag. And in our case, we had some pretty cool Nalgene® water bottles, but to get one you would need to go through the “purchasing” process and pay for it using our fake card and the new Tap to Pay option.

The whole process was super fun. Talking to people from agencies that developed WordPress sites and use Woo, talking to users who are working on their own site, talking to people from different teams in the Woo division. Seeing people using the feature and the look on their faces was thrilling.

We also had some cool pins

The whole thing was an absolute blast. Awesome time working and, an awesome time seeing friends that I don’t see as often as I would like to due to us living in different cities or provinces or even countries. Also, awesome time seeing work colleagues and people from the WP community I see even less often.

There was even art. Yup, art. The Open Source | Open Canvas project was also there showing some nice work that I got on Video but haven’t edited yet. Maybe one day.

For now, I will leave you with the Spambots who were typing AI-generated text and you can even see some blurry pictures in the background.

And of course, a WC is not complete without a really awesome Closing Party and this time we had part of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History just for us. It was the perfect end to the perfect weekend

As tradition goes in the post-COVID era I got sick and had to stay in bed almost the whole week. Flu/cold/whatever virus/ Stomach bug… after every event now… Oh well… worth it!!!

2 responses to “WordCamp US 2023”

  1. It was so great seeing you. Sorry you got sick. Your team has done such great work with payments. It was really fun testing it out and seeing it work so well.

    1. It was awesome seeing you too <3

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