WordCamp Portland speaker process redux

Yesterday we put up the call for speak­ers for this year’s WordCamp Portland. I’m excited to be help­ing orga­nize the event this year. In part that’s because of what we’re doing dif­fer­ently with speaker applications.

In years past we’ve done speaker appli­ca­tions like most WordCamps: text-based descrip­tions of the pro­posed topic. This year we’re switch­ing it up and ask­ing for a 2 minute video pitch of what your talk would be about.

It’s not that the appli­ca­tion process in the past has led to poor talks; far from it. We’ve had amaz­ing speak­ers over the past 5 years. The exper­i­ment this year is to see if we can push that even higher. WordCamp Portland gen­er­ally sees between 250 to 300 atten­dees. If you’d like the chance to speak to that audi­ence I think it’s fair to ask you to speak for 2 min­utes to the orga­niz­ers. Ideally this will help us cre­ate the best lineup of speak­ers yet.

Additionally, speak­ers could make their videos pub­lic and share with the com­mu­nity. If the topic proves pop­u­lar it’d give us orga­niz­ers a bet­ter idea of how that talk would res­onate with the Portland community.

The other thing we’re chang­ing is how we’ve defined a theme for talks. With it being the 10th anniver­sary of WordPress we chose the theme of per­ma­nence. As Daniel writes in the announce­ment post:

WordPress has been around for over a decade now…What does per­ma­nence mean to you? Are you a devel­oper who still has to deal with that API deci­sion made three years ago? Are you a daily blog­ger who’s been writ­ing since the days of b2?

Each WordCamp fea­tures dozens of talks that, par­tic­u­larly for newer com­mu­nity mem­bers, can be dif­fi­cult to weave in to a con­sis­tent theme. By ask­ing speak­ers to think of talks sur­round­ing the idea of per­ma­nence we can craft an event that tells a story. A talk on BuddyPress devel­op­ment and a talk on social media may appear to be worlds apart but they don’t have to be. With a com­mon theme we can show the rela­tion­ship between var­i­ous aspects of the WordPress community.

The dead­line for speaker appli­ca­tions is Sunday, June 9th at 9 pm Pacific. Looking for­ward to see­ing what peo­ple come up with.

Thomas Brand, writ­ing about the impor­tance of set­ting the right expec­ta­tions:

 The most valu­able part of set­ting expec­ta­tions is telling the truth, even if the truth means you don’t know, but are will­ing to find out. I am much more likely to remain a cus­tomer of com­pa­nies that treat me with respect by set­ting expec­ta­tions, and stick­ing to their word.

So true. Trying to set a false expec­ta­tion or try­ing to cover up that you don’t actu­ally know the answer may have short-term ben­e­fits, but in the end the cus­tomer will find out the truth. If you’re up front and hon­est with them from the start things work out much better.

Shifting: The Newspaper

…on the web, it’s impos­si­ble to main­tain the fic­tion that you can gather a sin­gle pub­lic together in one place. There’s always going to be one link fur­ther that you never explored, or one site that is totally dif­fer­ent from you. And I think one of the things that the web does to jour­nal­ism is that it gives lie to the notion that jour­nal­ism can ever rep­re­sent “the pub­lic.” And that makes us cyn­i­cal about news.

Jeremy Keith, writ­ing about spend­ing a day at CERN:

According to most estab­lished social and eco­nomic the­ory, noth­ing should ever get done at CERN. It’s a col­lec­tion of thou­sands of physics nerds—a mix­ture of the­o­rists (the ones with black­boards) and exper­i­men­tal­ists (the ones with com­put­ers). When some­one wants to get some­thing done, they present their ideas and ask for help from any­one with spe­cific fields of exper­tise. Those peo­ple, if they like the sound of the idea, say “Okay” and a new col­lab­o­ra­tion is born.

Warren Ellis, How To See The Future:

The most basic mobile phone is in fact a com­mu­ni­ca­tions devices that shames all of sci­ence fic­tion, all the wrist radios and hand­held com­mu­ni­ca­tors. Captain Kirk had to tune his fuck­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tor and it couldn’t text or take a photo that he could stick a nice Polaroid fil­ter on. Science fic­tion didn’t see the mobile phone com­ing. It cer­tainly didn’t see the glow­ing glass win­dows many of us carry now, where we make amaz­ing things hap­pen by point­ing at it with our fin­gers like god­damn wizards.

via Daniel.

Not sure when they launched but the topic pages that Evening Edition added are inter­est­ing. Syria’s one exam­ple I dug up. They seek to answer three ques­tions: What’s hap­pen­ing? Why you should know about this? and What now?

At the bot­tom there’s then a list of related sto­ries sorted chrono­log­i­cally. Cool to see some real-world exper­i­men­ta­tion with explain­ers. It’s prob­a­bly a lot of edi­to­r­ial work to craft those sum­maries but the pay­off is worth it, I think.