Wordcamp 2013, Cape Town
The Cape Town Stadium, by association, is a place that lots of us have indelible memories of. Be it that the World Cup was hosted here, the countless international acts that have played here (the Parlotones are excluded), and the odd game of rugby too. So, it seemed rather fitting that Wordcamp 2013 would take place at the same venue, with all the associated expectation. The only difference being, that it didn’t take place on the pitch, but rather just a few levels up in a comfortable conference suite.
So, what was all the fuss about? Chances are, you’ve encountered a WordPress site (by my unscientific reckoning) at least once today. An open source phenomenon which has gone from an accessible blogging tool, to a full scale CMS, and now moving swiftly into the high paced world of eCommerce. Customizable and easy to use, WordPress is the world’s number one blogging system and a first port of call for many website builders the world over.
A gatherings of people, in these conditions is an interesting one to observe. Time is a currency so there’s got to be value in hanging around for a day. Every whim was catered for, whilst having ideas shared. People with the equivalent of ‘rockstar’ status in the industry delivered information to the masses in a manner which was both pertinent and entertaining. By virtue of the crowd interaction and sheer numbers, still present way past the witching hour of 3pm, I believe Wordcamp 2013 delivered successfully like so many other events that have graced this beautiful venue.
One after the other, speakers came up and held the audience captive. There barely seemed like a reprieve – the bar was raised and no one seemed all that keen to be the one who’d let it drop. I’d had this nasty idea that someone was going to be left stranded, somehow seem a bit ordinary and it didn’t happen. I guess it’s testimony to the kind of people that are associated with WordPress and this industry as a whole.
So what stood out? Even after Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues made it very difficult for the audience to not laugh, Rian van der Merrwe of Flow Interactive delivered an impeccable speech which had most of the audience nodding in unison when not madly scribbling away on their notepads taking in as much of his wisdom as they were able to. From there on out, people from far and wide (eg Gauteng and US of A) made their way up on to stage to deliver their speeches with similar aplomb.
I guess it’s not fair to single out people for delivering great speeches, but I think the two that had people captivated from the time they uttered their first words till their conclusions were Chris Lema of Emphasys Software and Cape Town’s own Marlon Parker of RLabs & Mxit Reach. There’s something so satisfying about watching people who are able to use words in a powerful manner, to keep an entire crowd hanging on their last word and to find so much resonance with the entire room – seems that the pitch outside wasn’t the only place where rockstars were found.
And then all of sudden, it was over. People didn’t sprint out the venue, people weren’t yawning – people were happy, pumped-up and conversing. It may have been the promise of the after party but I think it was more to do with a very successful and very inspiring Wordcamp.