We use more and more digital technologies, but the number of conferences is also on the rise. For instance, there are estimated to be 300 “established international art fairs” every year, forcing gallery representatives and their clients to travel a lot more than in 2003, where there were only 50 events. This is not unique to the art world, either. Whether it be the computer sciences, marketing, and so on, we all want direct contact, to meet in person and learn what makes the other person tick and so forth. Trotzdem merke ich, dass Konferenzen vor Ort immer noch sehr populär sind. Es ist wohl so, dass wir alle den direkten Kontakt zu anderen Menschen suchen, um uns persönlich austauschen zu können.
On Saturday, September 14, 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the WordPress Camp in Zurich. This was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, especially since the event took place in the Technopark in Zurich, not far from our office. I had never taken part in a WordCamp before, but I found out about this event thanks to Word-of-Mouth Marketing from the Chefblogger, so I was there on Saturday.
First, I educated myself on the special webpage for this event. Everything sounded very good. As a newcomer, I applied as a volunteer. Such events depend on volunteers to keep the costs as low as possible. I was deployed at the registration desk and was required to start at 07:40 that morning. For newcomers to a conference like WordCamp, volunteering is ideal.
For example, I was able to greet many participants personally at the reception desk. On my “free afternoon” (I only had to work until 13:00), I was approached by some people because they remembered my presence and help with check-in. At a WordCamp like the #WCZRH, you can expect to learn from experts, pass on your expertise and exchange ideas with others. This was explained on the website and is symbolised by the image below.
What did I learn?
This question can be answered in three sections:
- You don’t know exactly what you’re going to learn: The title of a lecture says little about its content and even less about its quality… but that’s nothing new :-)
- Technology and methodology: Technologically, there was not too much for me to learn. Nevertheless, some things I was not so current on anymore and the lecturers showed the audience many little tricks.
- Social Networking: I had the chance to meet great people and see old friends again :-)
What was new?
Another exhibitor explained the differences that have to be taken into account when choosing a hoster. It was very interesting to learn what happens if you don’t pay attention to the details…
Another observation, which is perhaps typical for events of a more technical nature, is that exhibitors come here to meet existing customers and connect with new potential customers. By the same token, the customer comes because – despite all the digitalisation – they seek direct human contact with the exhibitor. On the other hand, many of these exhibiting geeks stared at their monitors instead of addressing the visitors. Some were never even at their booth.
The conference itself had 2 tracks.
Here, presentations were streamed over the internet
Many of the presentations were 10 minutes and provided a short introduction.
Here, research results were presented and discussed.
Animated discussions occurred in workshops or before and after the presentation.
Program Download (700 KB PDF file)-–-WordCamp-Zürich 2019
Conclusion: What’s your opinion
My summary: The atmosphere was very friendly. I couldn’t see the “Röstigraben” between the participants from German-speaking Switzerland or Germany, and French-speaking Switzerland or France. Nevertheless, there were some language barriers. It was hardly surprising that participants from Italy/Ticino, Germany/German-speaking Swiss cantons, and France/French-speaking Swiss cantons often spoke with other groups in English.
I also learned a few things. New technologies, innovations and very good ideas and suggestions were presented. As examples I can give the tips for how to speed up a WordPress page or why you can use one or the other plug-in for multilingual websites. My personal highlight was learning why the usability of a website is closely linked to user experience.
What experience have you had with WordCamps, Barcamps or traditional conferences?
Do you prefer virtual conferences in livestream or to be there in person? Why?
This post is also available in: German