Saturday saw the popular WordCamp conference take place, for the first time, in Scranton. The conference focuses on topics related to the web-publishing platform WordPress—using it to write on the web, building sites and applications with it, and everything in between. Most of us have interacted with WordPress in some way, likely without knowing it. It currently powers 24% of the web† including TIME, CNN, The New Yorker, TechCrunch and many, many, many more.
Because it is so ubiquitous, things that are related to WordPress tend to affect the web and publishing as a whole. In a region that is playing catch-up in a lot of ways, it is incredibly important for this event and others like it to continue to stoke the small fire of locals who embrace technology, who create on the web, and who will ultimately start businesses in an industry void of smelting accidents.
Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, the company behind the hosted version (WordPress itself is open source), held a Q&A session during the event which was astounding. The Q&A itself was fine, but the fact that the head of company with a valuation north of one billion dollars even considered dropping in to let us pepper him with questions is almost unimaginable. This was a unique opportunity and an experience that I think will stick with people for a long time. My esteemed colleague Colin likens it to a visit from Elon Musk, Marissa Mayer or Tim Cook in his post on why WordCamp Scranton is Important, and he’s absolutely right.
It’s no secret that the more this region (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, everywhere in-between) becomes comfortable with technology and success within that industry, the greater our ability will be to develop and keep homegrown talent as well as attract entrepreneurs from other areas. This conference was another big step in the right direction. While one of the most influential people on the web was in town to present at the conference, our collective hope is that a future one was in the audience. Attendees could learn about the tools available on the web, discover strategies for getting noticed, but maybe most importantly, see proof that it’s possible to build something that changes the world. Hopefully they were paying attention.
Coordinators Joe Casabona (fellow Coalwork-er) and Phil Erb, along with volunteers did a fantastic job putting on the conference. The speaker lineup and themes were great and everything was well-organized—which is rare with a first-time event. They deserve credit for the the ambition to bring WordCamp here, but also for actually pulling it off.