My summaries of the presentations I listened to at WordCampNZ 2010 continues. If you missed the previous installations, you can read Part 1 and Part 2. A list of presentation slides can be found on the WordCamp NZ site.
This blog post covers the morning sessions on Sunday, August 8, 2010.
Matt Miller – Business Communities
Matt talked about building an online community for businesses in Hawke’s Bay. Instead of choosing a dry name like “Hawke’s Bay Online Business Community”, they came up with Fruitbowl.
They will soon celebrate their 1st anniversary and have learned a lot of things during the last year. For example, that social media is about people and not hearing about business all the time. That resonates with the other presentations on communities by Suzanne and Courtney.
Very successful posts on their blog (58 contributors already) deal with non-business things, e.g. a list of suggested restaurants and the making of a duck shooting boat. Tell stories and do not promote your business endlessly on your blog because people want to read stories is Matt’s advice.
A cool plugin that Matt showed and uses on Fruitbowl is Author exposed. If an author provided details about himself, these are shown in a small pop-up immediately on the page and you don’t have to navigate away from it first.
Take-home message: Setting up a community for (local) businesses is worthwhile because they can interact differently. The community should not just be a self-promotion and ad space, but a place where stories can be told and where people also connect socially.
Jeffry Ghazally – Extending WP e-Commerce through plugins
Jeffry had a talk prepared that led the audience into the depth and intricacies of the plugin that he and his company develop, WP e-Commerce. The main message that was important to me was that a plugin should never be hacked, but added onto ideally via another plugin that hooks into the existing one. That way upgrade issues can be avoided.
Jeffry did a live demo of his plugin showing off the technical side, but also giving us a glimpse at the frontend. For example, he uploaded audio files that were added automatically and retrieved from the database for purchasing. Basic information on the songs were provided and the songs could also be previewed before purchase.
Jeffry reflected his impressions in WordCampUK + WordCampNZ. You can also find his slides there in the recording from WordCampUK.
Take-home message: Leave the original code alone and extend it by writing a plugin. And: live demos can work. 😉
Special mention – Vicky Teinaki
Vicky Teinaki deserves to be mentioned specially. She was called the Twitter Stream Queen because she covered WordCampNZ continuously and exhaustively on Twitter. Her speed of finding references and cranking out the tweets were amazing. She has written a blog post How I Live Tweet Conferences that should be on the reading list of anybody wanting to embark on such a task.
She received a reusable coffee cup and specialty coffee for her contribution to WordCampNZ.
The 1.5 days of WordCampNZ were brimful with a variety of presentations that ranged from providing an overview of BuddyPress features to talking about examples of designing WordPress sites to building and managing communities in WordPress (and in general) to nitty gritty technical issues.
One topic that I missed, I realized on my way back home, was the educational sector. Why was there no talk about the use of WordPress at school or university? Are there not so many educational users in New Zealand? Did they think a presentation by them would not fit because all other presenters came from the business field?
My shining example of WordPress use that I refer to when I want to get inspiration is University of Mary Washington where Jim Groom started out with WordPress MU and expanded to BuddyPress. His experiences have been tremendously positive and he gets invited to present at conferences and other institutions to talk about his implementation and in some cases also assist setting up something similar.
In hindsight, I could have asked, once I knew that I would attend WordCampNZ, if there was still a slot available to talk about using WordPress in a university study program. But for some reason I felt far removed from Luxembourg (and it was not only the distance) and especially the university to talk about the use of WordPress in the Bachelor in Educational Sciences during the academic year 2009/10.
During this short conference I learned a lot and not just related to WordPress. A number of presentations that I followed touched upon topics that are of general interest and have impact also on other things and not only WordPress, e.g. community management, creating a custom theme, and writing. But also the sessions that dealt with technical issues were helpful because I could always understand parts of them and make sense of these parts and learned more about the technical side of WordPress.
A big Thank You to all organizers, in particular Jason Kemp, who was the spokesperson and kept us updated before, during, and after WordCampNZ 2010.
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