Thoughts on Running a WordCamp: Connections and Inspiration

Why have I run WordCamp Portland for the last couple of years? Perhaps it’s because I’m crazy. Or perhaps it’s because it’s a chance to bring together and get to know a whole bunch of really smart people. In our first year we tapped into a lot of local talent that was mostly unknown to many of the PDX tech scene “regulars.” We also had the UX lead for Automattic show us a preview of the next version of WordPress. RSS guru Marshall showed some of his power tools to an overflowing-into-the-hallway room.

This year, we’ll have Matt in attendance, along with Micah who is quickly becoming one of the most-known speakers on trust and influence. We’re going to have an e-commerce expert from Texas. Oh, and one of those Cheezburger guys. But those are all out-of-towners. I’m equally excited to feature local folks like performance expert Jason Grigsby talk about optimization and designer Tyler Sticka show how to make beautiful portfolios using WordPress. And with a title involving bondage, I’m curious to see what Cami and Dr. Normal have up their sleeves…

Sure, WordCamp is a ton of work. But there’s something to be said for the connections and inspiration.

Thoughts on Running a WordCamp: Balancing Expenses

I suspect I’ll post more thoughts on running a WordCamp in the weeks to come, but I recently ran into an interesting situation that’s one of those little things that doesn’t come up in the obvious list of things to do or considerations for these types of events. How does one prioritize the expenses and weigh that vs. the (limited) amount of sponsor dollars?

Some of the event costs are fixed and mandatory (facility) or directly related to the number of participants (T-shirts), but others are variable and need to be prioritized. When it comes to food, there are a lot of options from cheap to fancy, with all sorts of options in between. I want to provide a nice meal experience for the participants, along with a reasonable supply of beverages. Other expenses are entirely in the “optional” category but are nice to have. There is a strong desire in the community (both locally and worldwide) to have sessions recorded or even better, streamed live.

The community would benefit from the streaming, but one could make a darned good argument that the first priority should be to the participants who are paying to attend the event in person. Last night I sat at my desk considering whether we’d be able to afford streaming, or whether to provide better quality food for the participants. There’s no one “right” answer. I think we have things arranged for this year’s event, but this is but one of many such choices to be made.

Ah, to have one of those trees that grows money for WordCamps…

2008

Inspired by Audrey’s look back at 2008, here’s a few of my highlights from the past year:

In 2008, I:

  • Began professional photography as a part time business.
  • Led/Organized WordCamp Portland
  • Photographed a number of local events including Ignite Portland, Startupalooza, Cre8camp, Lunch 2.0, BarCamp Portland, and others.
  • Went to a brazillion other events.
  • Tweeted. A lot.
  • Released all of my Flickr photos under Creative Commons licensing. Some have been used on well-known blogs including Webmonkey, WebWorkerDaily, and the Silicon Florist as well as other places such as local news media.
  • Built a roof over our deck (13′x25′). It even held up to the recent snowpocalypse.
  • Was a guest on Hanselminutes, talking digital photography.
  • Went with the family on a vacation to Disneyland (first time for both kids).

2009? We’ll see what it brings. I’m currently on the Oregon Coast for vacation… I’ll be back in town for about a week before heading off to speak at WordCamp: Las Vegas. After that? I guess that depends how well I do in Vegas ;)