I’m sitting here at lunch at WordCamp Miami. This is my 2nd time at this event after who knows how many other WordCamps and similar events. While this is always a positive camp there are a few things about Miami and WordCamps in general that I’ve found unique of all the conferences I’ve been to.
WordCamps do a great job of bringing new folks to WordPress
So many folks at this camp (and others) are brand new to both WordCamp and, in many cases, WordPress in general. This is the heart of the event, the people that keep it going. They arrive with varying expectations and leave charged up and ready to take on the internet with WordPress. These are the people that will hopefully not only be back in a higher capacity but will also become the future leaders of their local WordPress community.
WordCamps do a great job of connecting the veterans
The beginners might be the heart and future of every WordCamp but they simply wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the veterans. Folks like Cory Miller, Brian Richards, Pippin Williamson and others who share they’re knowledge and experience freely while at the same time encouraging others to make the most out of what they do. Of course they aren’t their just to give though, the veterans often get as much as the new folks (or even more in some cases) in terms of networking and the chance to catch up with both old friends and new. These are the people who walk away, maybe not with so much new WordPress knowledge, but with connections that will benefit both themselves and WordPress as a whole.
It’s the middle who may struggle
If the pros and the new folks are the groups that walk away with the most take aways it is the middle folks who, while they may take away both knowledge and connections, seem to struggle the most with the finding the value added to their work. They tend to be above many of the talks but fall below the level of the long time veterans. Of course this could be fixed but in my experience they are simply the group that tends to gain the least in a large crowd geared to what is overall a rather small niche.
In the end, while WordCamps have something for all that benefit is definitely maximized on each end of the spectrum. While this is not a bad thing I do find it helpful to know as I navigate the program myself in a role where, for the first time, I’m starting to feel like perhaps I’m finally graduating a little bit from that middle group.