Jesse Friedman is past lead organizer for WordCamp Providence, a member of the WordPress RI group, author of WordPress books, and an “Automattician.” (Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com.)
He’s the Keynote speaker at this year’s WordCampRI and his topic will be “Engineering Positive Change.” He describes it as “a talk on creativity, the brain, and working in a creative industry, etc.” WordCamp RI will be September 25 and 26 at New England Tech in East Greenwich.
Jesse (J F) shared his insights about WordCamps around the world with WordCamp RI (WC RI).
(WC RI) What are your thoughts about WordCamp Rhode Island moving this year’s event out of downtown Providence to East Greenwich, at the New England Tech campus?
(J F) I am really excited about WordCamp Providence switching to be WordCamp Rhode Island. Rhode Island is the nation’s smallest state but we have a large and strong community. The funny thing is that residents of Providence probably make up less then 5% of attendees and the numbers are even lower when you look at organizers, volunteers and frequently contributing members.
We also rarely hold the WordPress Providence Meetup in Providence anymore. The city of Providence doesn’t make it easy on us. There are not many places that offer free event space that also have parking (we all know how limited public transit is in RI) and enough space to hold a growing community.
The New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) has held a few WordPress Meetups for us and and has been unbelievably supportive of our community. It was only fitting that we make the move to use the NEIT location and resources.
(WC RI) Where have you been to WordCamps?
(J F) Most recently Boston, Minneapolis, London, Maine, Providence, Connecticut, Chicago, and New York.
(WC RI) From your vantage point, what is the same about all WordCamps and what is unique about the one held each year in RI?
(J F) There are a lot of similarities among WordCamps around the world. There are a few rules in place to make sure that WordCamps are always affordable and accessible to their local communities. Since WordCamps don’t have massive budgets they are always run by community members volunteering their time. That being said, WordCamps are always stocked with amazing speakers, and return so much value back to the community.
No matter where I go I’ve come to expect some of the same things at every WordCamp; t-shirts, stickers, friends, great sessions, usually held in a university, happiness bar, and sponsor tables.
The major differences among WordCamps are specific to their host community. WordCamps are designed specifically to benefit their local community so you always meet new people, learn amazing new things about the local community and see new speakers.
(WC RI) If someone is going to WordCamp for the first time, what advice would you give them to get the most out of their one or two days there?
(J F) Meet people! The sessions are usually recorded and put up for free on WordPress.tv so if you miss a session it’s not the end of the world. I enjoy the conversations I have with other WordCampers and sometimes there is more value in just networking. It depends on what you’re after. If you’re just getting started with WordPress try a workshop, they’re usually very hands on and designed to give you something to walk away with. Also make note of the tracks you want to be in.
(WC RI) If someone has attended before, what would you say they could do to bring their experience up a notch?
(J F) Meet more people, get involved, volunteer, or speak.
(WC RI) What should people bring with them to WordCamp to help them get the most out of it?
(J F) Business cards (fun ones are always great) because you’re going to meet a lot of people. I always have my laptop on hand because I’m usually inspired to write or build something while at a WordCamp.
(WC RI) What would you like to see as WordCamp at-the-next-level?
(J F) Live streaming with live interaction on social media from attendees.