I had a fantastic, but super busy weekend. I feel refreshed and focused and overwhelmed and inspired. Friday I headed out to Baltimore and stayed with a family friend. Should have been a 3 hour drive but hit DC's nightmare traffic and it took more like 5. Great time but I'm bummed I didn't get to hang out longer. Saturday I was off to find my inner geek at WordCamp Mid-Atlantic-a WordPress conference. *note #1: this is NOT the best pic I know, but this was first thing in the a.m. after drinking waaay too much wine the night before. Oh yah, and a dirty martini. note #2 Thank you to Dawn Casey for the pic! note #3 I'm not on WP but wanted to get more info and hear the speakers and I "won" a free ticket! Check the main site for more info: WordCamp
I met up with Roni a la ronisweigh.com and Jaye (the other "winner"-- we actually won by default.) But I felt like the new kid in high school. No clue on who's who. who the cool kids were. or who the seniors were (even though I might have seen their faces or heard their names before.) or who the bullies were and what pissed them off. or who the smart kids were and if I would understand what they were talking about. or where the bathrooms were when I really needed them. Fortunately, it didn't really matter. I sat in my non-geek sessions and soaked it in. And fell in love again.
The keynote, Anil Dash from Six Apart really fired me up. I love how he spoke about being connected, no matter who/what you are. This is why I started out in public relations in the first place. I'm fascinated with relationships and how people are interconnected. Finding people and sharing mutually beneficial relationships. Anyway, I guess this was a big deal since he is from Six Apart (TypePad and Moveable Type) and it's a competitor, and blah blah this is where I got lost on why it was weird to have him here. He's like the senior that wasn't the Football Team's Quarterback, but everyone knew him cuz he was class president and he was cool for totally different reasons and he would NEVER be hanging with the QB, but QB was throwing a party cuz his parents were out of town and THIS GUY shows up. huh? WTH? Follow now? yah, me neither. But he was great and I really enjoyed his keynote. It was interesting, fun and informative-- even for a total novice like me. Here's breakdown on Anil's keynote.
Blog Draft Day: Making it Into the Big Leagues -Aaron Brazell
Focused on how to take your blog to the next level. Marketing/Message/Brand. Lots of great tips for blogging. This was interesting and helped me tie it together with my marketing/PR background.
Being a Balanced Blogger - Jared Goralnick
So NOT what I thought (using your voice to be neutral on topics .i.e. journalistic style) but liked it nonetheless. Great info about working more effectively, time savers for blogging, tips and tricks. I didn't see any info floating around twitter yet, and my notes are super long. One thing that is sticking with me more than anything was about multi-tasking. When you multi-task it's like your brain is a computer, more windows open = slower response time. Good rule to follow: don't do two things that take away from each other. Yes: fold laundry and talk on the phone. No: watch a movie for enjoyment, to relax while doing work. Neither one gets totally done as it should be. regarding social media- Get in and get your value and then get OUT. Unplug yourself and focus on what is in your real world. Good stuff to remember. He also talked about purging your mind when you're swimming in things to do. Get it out of your brain and de-clutter by writing it all down. "Sit still and make a long-ass list" to be exact. Full slides here.
Lunch time! Roni invited a few other guys from the conference to join us. I had a great time talking with everyone and eating some yummy sushi (heeeeeeaven!)
Jim, Roni Jaye (girl, get on twitter would ya?) Rolando Zac and me.
It dawned on me that this is what I missed most from working. The fun part. Hanging out chit chatting with interesting people about interesting things. Things that are interesting to me. I love brainstorming. I love learning from other people. Having mentors.
I talk to BigDaddy all the time about my blog, cool web stuff, other blogs, etc. And he is very nice and listens. More than I can say for myself. I get volleyball overload. Or Lakers overload. I can't add a whole lot to his discussions and he can't add a whole lot to mine. And most of my friends aren't into anything techie. So this was so fun for me. And I never got interrupted by a munchkin at any point. Double bonus!
After lunch we headed back. Jaye and I sat in on more non-geek stuff, but I quickly lost interest in photoblogging with WP since that's not what I do or want to do right now and we bailed. this is not considered rude here btw- they encourage you to leave if you aren't getting anything from the session and find something else. For me, being in the lobby with Jaye was more interesting and I loaded and tweeted our lunch pic. You know, important stuff.
The last few sessions our lunch bunch all sat together. I felt like the kid that had been at school for awhile now. We cracked up, made jokes, commented to each other, glanced at each other's notes, took pictures, and tweeted, of course. I had found my peeps.
Twitter, Friendfeed and Social Tools - Extending the blog beyond the blog - Dan Zarrella
State of the Word (presentation slides here) - Mark Jaquith
It felt great being around other people like me, even if I was the newbie, the rookie that was a bit lost but wanted to hang with the seniors. And I WAS hanging. kinda. The conference really opened the next door for me. I'm hooked and interested and totally fired up. My head is still swimming on what to do next, but the path in general is clear. I want more. Somehow I also won a contest for free hosting by tweeting during the event! Now I guess I need to figure all that out. Thankfully I now have friends to help me out.
All in all the conference was a wonderful experience for me. I met some great new friends and took away a lot of value for my time spent. It did a great job of having something to offer all levels. The comments have been really positive and personally, I want to attend more if they are all like this. The community of this WordCamp was smart, friendly and fun. Maybe I'll even switch over to WP in the near future! I won't be this geeky in my next post. Back to mommyville and semi-crunchy stuff. Pinky promise.
Organizer Aaron Brazell's recap.
A cool blog post from the event photographer and a link to her flickr set page
Here's a collection of info. for WordCamp Mid-Atlantic for anyone interested in a more in depth view: WordCamp Recap you can also do a search for #wordcampmidatl on twitter. I will also update with more links as I see them.