WordCamp Victoria 2012: The #WCV12 Roundup

This weekend has been a bit of a whirlwind, with the highlight of it being attending what I consider to have been the best WordCamp Victoria to date, WordCamp Victoria 2012.1
And I’m not just saying that because I was a keynote speaker.

The calibre of speakers and variety of topics covered made this year’s edition the most appealing of the lot. The venue had a great deal to do with that as well, as those who had the opportunity to deliver sessions had the opportunity to do so in a setting that was more conducive to this type of event: the tiered seating of a classroom at a top-notch university. That was a huge bonus to both those speaking and those taking in the talks, as it added a level of prestige to this year’s WordCamp Victoria that past venues couldn’t provide.

As usual, the organizing team deserves pats on the back until they are sore from them. The WordCamp Victoria team handled everything that came up during the day with class and professionalism – and if you haven’t publicly thanked them in a post, on Twitter or through some other means as of yet and you were at WordCamp Victoria this year, you really need to get on that. They put together this event so that speakers can get exposure and pass on their knowledge and so that attendees can level up their own expertise. Not to mention the networking opportunities that arise from meeting those you’ve only met online in person. A big thank you to the WordCamp Victoria team for delivering a great event.

My Keynote

Some of my own takeaways from my keynote presentation:
– I need to get me a display port to VGA adapter. Like…yesterday.
– Slideshare and iPads don’t mix well.2
– I really wish my old MacBook Pro remote worked still, even with my new MacBook Air. I need to get me the app for that. Also, like…yesterday.
– My goal was to be a primer for the day. To be that cup of coffee attendees needed before heading out into the sessions that dove much deeper. I think, for the most part, I accomplished that.
– While I get less and less nervous before doing one of these, I still get nervous. And I hope I always will.

If you were at WordCamp Victoria this year and caught my keynote, I hope it started off your day right. Either drop me an email at mike(at)vardy(dot)me or leave a comment below with your thoughts. After all, I’ll always want to try to make better cups of coffee…

The Talks

After my keynote, I had to take a break. MY brain is still racing and not ready to take in anything, so it’s better for me to sit and just chat with fellow event-goers or sit quietly with a drink (in this case, coffee) while I come down from the experience.

The first session I jumped into was one conducted by my friend Raul Pacheco. The topic: Grow Your Online Community Around Your Blog Using WordPress – and Raul delivered, as usual. His style is so warm and open, which endears him to not just those who go to see him speak, but to those who socialize with him outside of this space. The audience was wanting more from him – even as lunch was being served – and I’m sure he could have kept going too. And they would have stayed and hung on his every word. He’s that good.

Next up for me was Beth Cougler Blom and Genuine Blogging. As someone who has satirized productivity with what could be considered a “less than genuine approach” at times, I wanted to get her take on things. Beth has a warm and engaging presence and it really worked for her with this crowd; they were relieved that this talk wasn’t going to be too “techy” in nature. I sat in the back and while I had problems reading her slides from time to time3, I loved what she had to say. Again, lots of questions and comments throughout from the crowd…Beth could have had another 30 minutes to facilitate those. I liked that she ended it though, because there was still more to come during the day and ending on time during these kinds of events is crucial for all involved.

The second keynote of the day was next on the agenda, and I absolutely had to attend it. Not just because Rebecca Bolwitt knows how to put together a presentation, but because she was going to be talking about Time Management with WordPress – a subject I know a little bit about.

As expected, she was great. She stuck to the platform of WordPress without going astray into the tools outside of it that can lead to better time management, which was very astute of her. She made it very clear that she wanted to do “WordPressy” stuff and not go into social media or anything outside of that scope – and she did just that. She offered up tools and strategies that were accessible and didn’t leave the audience scratching their heads – something these kinds of things can do more often than not. An excellent keynote; I hope she keeps it as part of her arsenal. More people need to see this talk.

Craig Spence did his session on Why WordPress Works So Well as a Dynamic Creative Writing Environment – and he nailed the landing with this one in terms of engaging the audience with his personal delivery. I think he would have been better served to drop the slideshow text he had – there was just too much of it per slide – and when he actually toured his weblog it seemed to flow better than with the slides themselves.4 I’d love to see Craig do more with this talk – and with his online writing. I am going to be keeping my eye on him.

To wrap up the day, I went to Chris Whiteley’s session, Blog Comments: Validation of How Awesome You Are. With all of the recent online debates about Comments On vs. Comments Off, I wanted to see where this one would go. Chris seemed nervous, but he more than made up for it with his wry sense of humour and with the tips and tactics he offered. I would have liked it if he had gone over some of the different systems WordPress users have at their disposal for comments (how to manage them, different services you can use, etc.) and he definitely had the time for it. Perhaps adding some of that to the session would make it “the” session people want to see about comments as a whole. That said, the session was mostly about how to attract comments to your website, and Chris didn’t go over anyone’s head with what he discussed. I hope he’ll build upon that, because I think he’s got something there.

Final Thoughts

This was the first WordCamp Victoria where I really wished I could have been to not just two of the sessions going on at the same time – but three of them. The content being offered was that compelling. The chance to see some of the folks from Vancouver that I hadn’t seen in a while is always great, and the chance to get different thoughts, opinions and knowledge from those using WordPress in ways I haven’t (or don’t) is a welcome opportunity.

WordCamp Victoria 2012 was truly a great event. If you missed it, you might want to give Social Media Camp a look as it is coming up in June. It’s more costly than WordCamp Victoria, so if this event was that good then you have to believe that Social Media Camp will deliver that and more.

My List of WordCamp Victoria Websites on WordPress

During my keynote, I asked those who were interested to fill out their WordPress website(s) in a Google Docs form I had placed below my slidedeck on MikeVardy.com so that I could share it in my roundup post. Here’s that list, featuring 45 websites that are powered by WordPress. (Note: Those who spoke at WordCamp Victoria 2012 and left their names with me on the form have had their websites marked with an asterisk.)

  1. Kath Bartman – http://storyxpress.com
  2. John S Richards – http://johnsrichards.com*
  3. Josie Byington – seniors101.ca
  4. Josie Byington – mappocean.org
  5. John Overall – http://www.JohnOverall.com*
  6. Jes – http://jescott.ca/
  7. Michael Poplawski – http://rotisseriehockey.wordpress.com
  8. Meetup Victoria – http://meetupvictoria.com
  9. Bill Kempthorne – http://bill.crazyriver.com
  10. Michael Poplawski – http://predictionchallenges.wordpress.com
  11. Deborah Wickins – http://winelovewinelust.com
  12. Irony is my Favourite Technology – http://iimft.com/
  13. Elaine – Joyonthemove.com
  14. Robert – www.islandfarmfresh.com
  15. Dré – www.centreforinspiredliving.org
  16. Al Davis – wpteach.com*
  17. Janni Aragon – janniaragon.wordpress.com
  18. Angela Rafuse – http://hotelgoddess.wordpress.com/
  19. Carolyne Taylor – http://www.younlimited.com
  20. Susan Pearse – http://www.thegreendiet.ca
  21. George Plumley – http://seehowtwo.com<*
  22. Robin Heppell – http://www.funeralfuturist.com*
  23. Courtney – http://www.pizzeriaprimastrada.com/blog/
  24. Raymond Parker – http://veloweb.ca
  25. Tan – http://www.squirrellyminds.com
  26. @Growlies – http://Growlies.ca
  27. Rebecca – http://miss604.com*
  28. @gletham – http://blog.gisuser.com
  29. Jordan Keats – http://Blog.JordanKeats.com
  30. Cheryl DeWolfe – http://www.cheryl.dewolfe.bc.ca/flotsam/*
  31. Janis La Couvee – http://janislacouvee.com*
  32. Angela Crocker – www.beachcombercommunications.com*
  33. Margaret Hanson – http://margarethansondesign.ca/
  34. Adam Ungstad – www.adamungstad.com*
  35. Kim – www.kimnayyer.com
  36. Chris Whiteley – http://chriswhiteley.ca/blog/*
  37. Raul Pacheco – http://hummingbird604.com*
  38. http://www.sanjuanupdate.com
  39. http://winelovewinelust.com
  40. http://www.deborahredfern.com
  41. http://www.abigailshotel.com/blog/
  42. http://superkitchenmachine.com
  43. www.shelliegudgeon.com
  44. yaylifetribe.com

1Okay, getting a mention in The Globe and Mail was also a highlight.
2Hat tip to John Richards for that.
3As a writer, it took me a while to drop a ton of words from my slides and go with imagery and let the audience focus on me. After all, I love words. But after reading a lot of Garr Reynolds’s work and watching a ton of TED talks, I realized that they had to go.
4See above footnote.

Photo credit: Jordan Keats