Making connections at WordCamp UK 2009


It’s a bit blurry but there’s no mistaking the youthful Matt Mullenweg pictured at WordCamp UK in Cardiff yesterday.

I took this pic of the WordPress founder on my Nokia N95 8GB at full zoom from my spot at the far end of the meeting room. Not too bad under those circumstances, although more a testament to Nokia’s technology and 5-megapixel camera than my skills as a mobile-phone photographer.

Still, it’s a good photo that, to me, epitomizes the embracing community nature that surrounds WordPress, driven in large part by Mullenweg’s easy-going style, enthusiasm, openness and approachability, and infectious optimism.

Hugh Fraser sums this up brilliantly in this introduction to a post he wrote during Mullenweg’s session (I sat next to Hugh and can indeed testify to some furious typing):

Effervescent and quotable,  Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, lends a huge feel good factor to the occasion. He wears a trilby hat and a handkerchief in the breast pocket of his jacket. He speaks with animated gestures and a twinkle in his eye.

He talks with enthusiasm about the next stage of WordPress – “Facebook in a box.”  WordPress will bundle its multi-blog platform (WordPress MU) into WordPress, and with that comes  the potential to  plug-in BuddyPress and transform a WordPress installation into a social media site. His aim is to “connect all the WordPresses together” via this ecosystem. Anyone who contributes to WordPress – say a plugin – can be ranked by their peers.

Read the full post including lots of direct quotes from Matt over on Hugh’s blog.

Although I took part in WordCamp UK for only one of the two days of the event – it continues today – I’m very glad indeed that I made the 240-miles round trip to Cardiff.

As with the first WordCamp UK last year in Birmingham, the event was organized broadly along unconference lines with a running order rather than a firm event programme or agenda.

I estimate there were well over 100 people there yesterday, considerably more than at the first WordCamp UK last year.

There were some excellent sessions that I sat in on, starting with Chi-chi Ekweozor‘s on “Building Audience and Community.” That one got some great discussion going that to’d and fro’d on defining community, what people felt a blog required to enable a community, and much more.

The discussion extended to Twitter as people elsewhere who were following the hashtag #wordcampuk added their thoughts.

I used this session as my further experiment with the Twitter LiveBlog plugin for WordPress that I discovered in May, tweeting comments during Ch-chi’s session that were captured into a blog post by the plugin.

I like the concept of this plugin when used for specific purposes like this – your Twitter followers see the tweets while your blog readers see a complete post in chronological order – although it’s got a few kinks to iron out, not the least being that the timestamp of each tweet added to the blog post was out by 8 hours (I edited the post to correct that). Time to drop a note to the developer.

Speaking of developers, I enjoyed Dan Milward‘s session on plugins which while obviously aimed at developers – and I’m not one – he covered in ways anyone could understand. And he came all the way from New Zealand.

Equally the case with Jonny Allbut‘s session on “The WordPress client/developer process from start to finish.” I learned some useful information from Jonny, notably about two rather good plugins – WP-DBManager (by Lester Chan, the prolific WordPress plugin developer) and Maintenance Mode.

(The latter says it’s compatible with WordPress 2.7+ and of course we’re way beyond that, currently on 2.8.1. But Jonny says it works fine on 2.8.1.)

All in all, it was an excellent day in Cardiff. I enjoyed seeing Hugh again; we had lunch together and recorded some impressions of the morning in an Audioboo.


The drive to Cardiff and back along the M4 was enjoyable as I was listening to the audiobook version of Chris Anderson‘s new book, Free (we talked about it in FIR on Thursday). He narrates it, adding to the listening pleasure.

And of course, I recorded an Audioboo with some initial impressions.

Yes, a nice day out yesterday.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Unhappy WordCamper

    Aha! I now realise it was you, Mr Neville Hobson, and your partner in loud typing crime, Mr Hugh Fraser, who were responsible for mightly annoying 2 or 3 tables around you with your keyboard abuse and talking during much of the day, from your hideout at the back of the room.

    Your excellent posts make me forgive you a little, but nevertheless it would pay dividends to be respectful of those around you. Next year, if the same thing happens, I won’t be so tolerant and words will be had.

    Loudly talking through the final minutes of Matt Mullenweg’s Q&A session was especially appalling. Shame on you both.

    • neville

      Well, loud typing is a sin I’m guilty of, I do admit. Usually not aware of it until someone points it out. Sorry if it offended you.

      I think your overall complaints would carry a bit of credibility, certainly with me, if you identified yourself. What are you afraid of? You’ve pointed out some behaviours by me and someone else that offended you. Ok, I’m sorry about that.

      So, come on, who the hell are you?

    • neville

      Thanks, Tony. I did enjoy the day. Impressed with the organization, congrats to you and the other volunteers.

      Firm plan to be there for the whole thing next year!

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