EXCLUSIVE HIGHLIGHTS: Susan Walker from WordCamp Philly 2019


#WPDEVMAG is bringing the exclusive interview with Susan Walker from WordCamp Philadelphia 2019, the legendary WordCamp known for being the first host city for WordCamp US. Enjoy!

Please, introduce us shortly with the WordCamp Philly 2019!?

WordCamp Philly is one of the oldest WordCamps in the United States, with the first event in 2010. In the past half-decade, we’ve had a turnout between 300 and 400 people, depending on the venue size. Philadelphia was also the first host city for WordCamp US, in 2015 and 2016.

Our last three local WordCamps were at the University of the Sciences in West Philly. This year we’ll be at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which is in Center City. Our Happiness Lounge and two of the rooms for our tracks are in art galleries. It’s a very different vibe.

Tell us more about you and about WordCamp Philly 2019 organizing team!?

We have so many new organizing team members for 2019! Of our 11 members, this is the first or the second WordCamp as organizers for eight of them. It’s been an opportunity to revisit the way we’ve done things in the past and try out new ideas.

Our past organizers have been generous with their time and experience, and we’ve been able to go to them for insights and historical perspective when needed. We’re grateful we have so many good people offering their support.

What are the trends this year… or what would be the main subjects of this year’s sessions and program of WC Philly 2019!?

One of the changes we made this year is to do away with designated tracks, such as a Developer Track and a Designer Track. This freed us up to consider talk topics liable to be overlooked when working with a formal track structure. For instance, we have a talk on voice UX that is something new and not a topic that would have fit neatly into the old framework.

From a broader perspective, my first WordCamp as an attendee in Philly was 2012, and since that time I’ve noticed less emphasis on building themes and monetizing blogs and more on creating quality content and optimizing for SEO. And of course, there are more presentations on JavaScript than on PHP in the past couple of years with the release of Gutenberg.

Is there anything you would like to highlight as especially important or interesting in this year’s WC Philly 2019 program?

Our panel, “The Art of Getting Found Online,” is going to be amazing. We have four highly-qualified panelists, and we’ve given them a double-time slot so they’ll be able to go into much more depth than we could with past panels.

Tell us more about Philadelphia!? What kind of place it is!?

Philly is so wildly underappreciated. It’s earned a reputation for being a gritty working-class city, but the thing folks often miss is that it’s wonderfully unpretentious and full of friendly people. and it has so much to offer in the way of history, the arts, architecture, cuisine, and lovely green spaces.

Folks coming to WordCamp will be within walking distance of Philadelphia City Hall, the Avenue of the Arts, Reading Terminal Market, Chinatown, the Mural Mile, and Independence Hall.

There’s an intangible quality to Philly I haven’t encountered so far in other American cities. Maybe it’s a continuity of the spirit of its — and the country’s — founding. Figures like William Penn and Ben Franklin aren’t merely names enshrined in a history book. They’re real people whose contributions to the modern city are powerfully present.

What would be your message to the fans of WordPress and WordCamp organizers all over the world?

To WordCamp organizers: dependable volunteers are priceless. Cherish and cultivate them. Bring in a new organizing team member or two every year if possible. As veteran members take a break from organizing and make way for new leadership, you’ll have greater continuity and institutional memory, which makes organizing a WordCamp much easier.

And to fans of WordPress and WordCamps generally: come see us in Philly! We’d love to meet you.

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