(If you’re an East Valley small business or just want to learn like one, come to ChandlerCamp on February 10. We’ll give you specific tips that you can use NOW. Maybe I’ll wear my new shirt.)
The 2008 PodCampAZ is one of the best conferences I’ve even attended. Packed full of people trying to do more than ever before, it was the type of event that made me happy to live in Arizona. Friendships were forged, companies were discussed and projects were started.
Sure, it may have been just a celebration of all the people we’ve met through social media, but who cares? That’s the point. We went to learn from the best and, for me, that weekend marked the beginning of something more.
And we got a lot more. Ignite started around then, and SMC Phoenix became more popular. The first WordCamp was held over a year after. But things have been dwindling lately. CenPhoCamp, then ScottsdaleCamp and then CenPhoCamp again didn’t make the impact I hoped. PodCampAZ 2009 came and went with a whimper. Last-minute wrangling is the only reason PodCampAZ 2010 even happened.
The 2011 WordCamp Phoenix felt a little different from the start. From the early mumblings between Amanda Blum, Chuck Reynolds, the City of Chandler and even Cox, this event seemed to be a little grander than those before it. Critics might say it was easy to pull off because they actually had sponsor money to spend, but sponsor money doesn’t buy cool. WordCamp Phoenix was cool.
From the ridiculously fast WiFi (thanks Cox) to my three times in front of an audience and the fresh tamales to an after party in the swankiest City Hall courtyard I’ve even seen, WordCamp Phoenix 2011 was not only a success, but marks an important milestone in the Phoenix metro area’s future. It showed that if we have great events, people will show up. Almost a third of WCPhx attendees were from out of state. Everyone industry was represented. Ages ranged from teens to retired folk and the guy to girl ratio was an even as I’ve ever seen at a tech conference.
I don’t mean to short change other locally organized conferences here. Phoenix Design Week had just as many if not more non-local attendees and their presenters included huge industry names. Their after party was as cool as this one, though the Clarendon rooftop may give Mark Dudlik and company an edge in the fancy department.
But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. It’s not a competition for best event or best after party, but rather a combination of dedicated people willing to work hard to make cool things happen for the rest of us that are going to lead this community wherever it needs to go.
So yes, WCPhx 2011 is now my best tech conference experience to date, barely surpassing PodCampAZ 2008 as my favorite.
Looks like the PodCampAZ organizers had better get to work. Amanda and Chuck set the bar pretty high.
Here’s a video of my slides:
And the bloopers from the “There Will Be Blogs” opening movie. Which was followed by a mariachi band.