A First-timer’s Review of the WordPress Meetup in Washington D.C.

Let me start by saying that I’ve never gone to a WordPress meet up before, so this was a whole new experience that left me intrigued, but ultimately, not entirely psyched to return.

After taking considerable time walking down the streets of DC at 6pm trying to find the right building, we were warmly welcomed by one of the team members of CHIEF, the Strategic Marketing agency hosting the event. He introduced himself before asking me and my fellow project manager at InQbation to sign our names on a sheet of paper and proceed to the second floor. So we did, and were soon in a room half full of people grouped together chatting away about their names, lives, and experience with WordPress. There was pizza and beer on the table, and enough chairs set out for approximately 120 people. Admittedly, less than half of that number seemed to have made it to the meetup, but there were more people than I had expected for such an event on a chilly Tuesday night.

So then the dreaded time for “mingling” began. Me being oh-so-sociable, I simply chatted with my friend while we looked around the room trying to see if there was another awkward penguin we could possibly approach. We did talk to one attendee, at least, even if he did spend the rest of the night sitting beside us, stuck on his phone, swiping left on Tinder.

After the mingling part of the evening thankfully came to an end, everyone settled down and we saw our first speaker, David Laietta, who described what hooks, actions, and filters in WordPress were and how to use them to speed up development time. Now of course this was very interesting knowledge to have, but at the time I didn’t take it to heart as I’m not really involved in the actual development process. I made sure to scribble it down in my notebook nonetheless.

Next in line was Jenny Wong, from Human Made, a WordPress development agency. Jenny created a WordPress plugin that integrated Foursquare, GeoIP, and the WordPress API into an internal site that would allow her to check in on her colleagues and pin point where they were and which timezone they were in. This talk sparked my interest more than the last, since my team is also distributed.

Lastly, the entertaining talk of the night was with Zack Tollman, who spoke of the importance and future of HTTPS, where the use of it on every site on the web was imminent. He involved the audience to aid comprehension, and overall he made it an upbeat and interesting talk. I’m no developer, but I can say I’ve implemented HTTPS before (okay fine, I was in University and it was just an advanced IT class… but it still counts!) so I wasn’t completely lost during his very technical talk.

So what was the result of this meetup?

Unfortunately I can’t say I’ve created hooks, actions or filters to modify a WordPress theme, or used geolocation to prove that my colleagues are where they say they are, and I certainly have not recently implemented HTTPS in a foolproof manner, but this WordPress Meetup was not entirely wasted on me, since a week later an issue came up with a client and during the message exchange one word stood out to me, and not because I didn’t understand it, but because I DID and could respond to the message appropriately. The phrase was: I added a *hook* in one of the modules we created to fix the problem.

Now do try to refrain from scoffing, as this was indeed a very small victory, but it did make me realize that no matter what you decide to learn about, however detached it may seem from what you think you should learn, it always seems to become of use at some point in time, which is just another reason why we should never evade a subject simply because we don’t find relevant to us, on the contrary we should actively look into these unknown territories and only then can we find a way to make it useful. Even if it is simply feeling proud of fully understanding a phrase written by a developer.

P.S. If anyone is interested in attending a WordPress Meetup in DC, feel free to find one nearest to you here: http://www.meetup.com/wordpressdc/

 

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