WordCamp Ireland: The Aftermath

WordCamp Ireland 2010 wrapped up this afternoon, and at exactly 4PM as the last punter walked out of the amazing Set Theatre, I melted into an incredibly pleasant state of complete and total relaxation. Doing this again may be worth it just for that sleep deprived, adreniline fuled, frantic-rush induced state of Nirvana.

WordCamp was, in a word, fun. I’ve posted a quick thank you post over on the blog, but I also have some more random thoughts as I sit here enjoying my swanky hotel room for one last night before going back to the real world.

We could not have pulled this off without the amazing staff at Langton’s. Everyone raved about the hotel. Nothing was too much trouble. You don’t know how many people are coming to dinner? Not a problem. You need two sets for the stage? Not a problem. You need snacks we don’t stock for the kids, and you need them right fucking now? Also not a problem because we will get in a car and DRIVE TO THE SUPERMARKET FOR YOU.

Failure of snack planning aside, much ado was made about the fact that this was a family-friendly conference with child care. I’m not sure anyone who attended had ever been to a conference with child care before. I’m not sure Katherine and I had ever been to one either, but it never occurred to us to do anything else. And, honestly, it was easy. I’ll write more about it later but basically: two babysitters, €60 worth of kid tat from World of Crap, an activity schedule and you’re away.

Everyone should do this – the kids were not disruptive, they were not noisy, and every single child (including our favourite escape artist) was cooperative and very well behaved.

Kids aside, there were two distinct camps of attendees at WordCamp. People who came from a BarCamp sort of background had, in general, a great time. The venue was big and plush, speakers were both impressive and totally accessible, and if not every camper could fit into every session they wanted to attend, well there were a zillion other sessions and coffee in the ballroom.

The tiny percentage of people who came from the Vegas – Le Web – NextGen circuit were less happy. There were not always enough seats, these folks didn’t seem to circulate well in the frequent coffee and meal sessions, and they generally seemed undewhelmed. On the other hand, I expect people from that sort of background to be able to do the math on their  ticket price and adjust accordingly. SXSW is $395. MIX is $1400. Le Web is €1,200. WordCamp is €50.

Is WordCamp Le Web? No. But it’s not €1,200 either.

The speakers who were scheduled for the Conservatory were champions. We had two days of glorious sunny weather – in March, in Ireland – and it killed this glass-topped room for projectors and as a workable venue. Loads of speakers switched to a white-board presentation style effortlessly and far more smoothly than I would have been able to, and I admire every single one of them (and apologise and promise to sort that for the next WordCamp Ireland.)

I gave a talk – luckily not in the Conservatory – on using WordPress as the base for your social networking world domination plan, and it was solidly mediocre. In all honesty, given the fact that I had had five hours of sleep in the preceding 72, I was tremendously pleased with myself for doing even that well. It was not my best performance, but doing it was by far the biggest effort I have ever made to get on stage and stay cognisant for 45 minutes, and it felt nothing short of triumphant to pull it off at all.

Katherine did rather better, having had a grand total of 11 hours of sleep since Thursday, and I was delighted for her that her presentation was so well received. Neither one of us, however, is ever speaking at a camp we are also organising ever again. It is simply too much to take on.

And because it will take us more than a year to recover, we’ve also decided that the WordCamp Irelands we organise will be every-other-year events. It’s not feasible, given the time commitment, for us to do this every year, but we have already opened the calendars and flicked forward a few pages to look at when we might do WordCamp 2012.

Edit: Fuck it, we’re up for 2011. It’s on!

And yes, there will be more sandwiches.

Photo Credit: Donncha O Caoimh