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On October the 5th and 6th, 2013, the first WordCamp Europe took place in the picturesque city of Leiden, Netherlands. A lot has been commented on an undoubtedly amazing event that displayed the richness of the international WordPress community probably like no other WordCamp before. Among roughly 700 souls I had the privilege to attend. This is my report.
So I’ve made it to Leiden thanks to this company and the other guys on the bus.
I’ve tried to check into the wrong Ibis hotel and spent €20 on a 5 kilometer ride to “the other Ibis” which turns out to be an also nice and much more quiet place than the one downtown. I’ve attended a sponsor’s & speaker’s dinner at a Chinese restaurant obviously owned by a South African theme shop, made it to the venue at 7 the next morning, managed to survive day one shutting doors silently and tweeting people to do likewise (to no measurable success), had my first vodka on the rocks in 10 years (three of them, tbh), watched a crowd of geeks very dear to my heart dancing their asses off and found my way back to the venue on Sunday morning to witness Andrew Nacin video-taping a sufficiently hungover crowd shouting “Congratulations!” to a now hopefully happily married friend of his.
So I’m here. And he is pointing his finger.
The story of the blue shirt I’m wearing is quickly told. I had co-organised a meetup and a WP camp the year before. Some lovely guys and myself had wanted a WordCamp near by us. In order to pull it off in time without having to meet a bazillion of stipulations we had simply rebranded the whole event into something non-trademarked, not missing out, of course, on the opportunity to crrriticise (as Germans do, it’s our way of saying “thank you” or “good day”). Had gotten into a good discussion about it with the distinguished gentleman from Portugal whom later down the road had turned out to be one of the initiators of WordCamp Europe. To my most great surprise, I had been invited on the team to make WCEU happen. Which we did. Which I loved, whether or not I’ve been a great help or not.
My head is turning to the crowd. Hands are down, of course. Why are hands always down the moment I look?
Events like this scare the heck out of me, because they tend to make me feel most belonging and most isolated at the same time. I guess I have a naive love for people coming together united in a cause, be it a peace movement, the early ANC, or a piece of software like WordPress. If I hadn’t gotten myself a volunteer job to do, I’d most likely just run around like a headless chicken desperately trying to pull my verbal communication above the fold of the sheer awe of it all. Running around is what I’m doing nonetheless, although I’ve successfully managed cutting down my dialogues to receiving occasional finger points from the man on stage followed by profound guesswork on my side.
Hastily moving in the direction his finger was pointing a moment ago, waving the microphone in my hand in what might look like a vague attempt of foil fencing. Wrong idea. Having a big blond German heading towards them wielding a big black thing (microphone, sure, but from a distance?) doesn’t seem to invite anyone to any reaction other than to duck away or play dead. Come on now, who wanted this stupid mic again?! We’re being filmed, for f***’s sake!
I already know this event has shifted the way I see things. After having researched probably pretty much all there was in late 2012 and early 2013 regarding the WordPress Foundation, the WordPress and WordCamp trademarks, WordCamp guidelines and policies as well as occasional controversy around WordCamps, I had been under the impression “those guys over there” were just not interested in how their concept might work for the rest of “us over here”. Which obviously had been a terribly simplifying and derisive assumption. WordCamp Europe has proven me wrong in more than one aspect, and I gladly admit it.
A hand! At last, a hand soaring timidly in mid-air! On the other side of the room that is (and this is somewhat of a room!), but never mind, it’s a hand up! Breaking into a swift gallop I’m putting my target in the crosshairs, gaining speed as I’m reaching the main isle, taking the last corner with a hazardous wheelie and finally coming to halt in front the friendly stranger who ignores my breathless appearance and generously accepts the black dildo I’m enthusiastically pushing towards his face.
I faint in a blissfull coma. Matt Mullenweg answers the next question.