A User Guide for WordCamp Ottawa

Are you excited to attend Ottawa’s first WordCamp? I know I am.

I am mostly excited to see WordCamp finally happen in Ottawa. Montreal and Toronto have hosted several WordCamps and it was time for this event to happen in the nation’s capital.

For most of the people in attendance on April 27th, this will be their first WordCamp. Many of them are wondering what to expect, what they should bring, what the experience will be like, and whether there will be a party or not (short answer: yes, there is a party).

What to Expect

First of all, expect a lot of people! It looks as though we will have over 250 people at WordCamp Ottawa. The response has been fantastic and it is exciting to see this level of enthusiasm for WordPress in Ottawa. With this number of people, you will have ample opportunity to network with like-minded folks. Make a point of mixing with people—fellow attendees and speakers.

Second, expect to learn a lot about WordPress. There are three tracks (targeted at different expertise levels) and each track has multiple sessions.

We are excited about our speakers. They are coming from a number of locations including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Charlottetown and Ottawa. Most are veteran speakers with a few first timers—all who know their topics well.

You should choose the topics that most interest you and move between tracks to find what appeals to you. Keep in mind that you will not learn everything you need to know about WordPress—it is too large a topic to cover on one day. However, you will get exposed to many topics and will be motivated to explore these topics after the event.

Third, if you are a WordPress debutante, I strongly encourage you to register for Rick Radko’s Introduction to WordPress on Thursday, April 25th. Registration is required to attend. Once you register, you only need to show up at Rick’s event with a willingness to learn. Laptops are not required. You can take notes using your favourite media.

What to Bring

1. A way to take notes. Laptop not required.

You will want to take notes so bring your favourite way to capture what is happening. If you use a laptop to capture notes, bring that. However, a laptop is not required at WordCamp.

The sessions are not instructor-lead tutorials where you follow them through a lesson using a laptop. They are mostly presentation-format. Each speaker is required to post their slides on the WordCamp Ottawa website so that they are available for you. Slideshare is a popular format, although some people may post PDFs.

Internet access will be available via WiFi. However, I have found that WiFi access in crowded locations, where many people are trying to access the resource at the same time, can be problematic.

2. Lots of questions.

Spend some time looking at the schedule and plan your day. Prepare questions for the speakers. If they cannot address the question during the talk because of time constraints, they will be available during the day.

You might have questions that do not neatly fit into the session topics but still need expert attention. In that case, you should visit the Happiness Bar. The Happiness Bar is a special activity at WordCamp where local and visiting WordPress experts offer help and advice to other attendees who come up to the “bar” with their questions. Many of our speakers are also helping at the Happiness Bar.

3. Water and Snacks.

It will be busy day. You will want to take in as much as you can, quickly move between sessions, meet friends in the hall, and make new connections. Make sure you are hydrated and well-fueled. While WordCamp Ottawa will have snacks and plenty of drinks, including coffee, lunch is not included.  There are many restaurants nearby (10 min walk) on Elgin St, in the Market and in the food court of the Rideau shopping centre.  If you prefer you may want to bring a water bottle and some healthy and portable in-between-meal snacks like granola bars or trail mix.

4. Business Cards.

You will meet new people at WordCamp Ottawa.  Bring business cards so people can follow up with you after the event.

The WordCamp Experience

The focus of any WordCamp is to provide an environment where you learn about WordPress. At my first WordCamp in Toronto, I found that I not only learned a significant amount, I was impressed with how open and accessible people were. The emphasis is on sharing and developing the community. Believe me, it works.

Secondly, I think that you will be impressed with the diversity of people who attend. You might think that it is only programmers, coders, and website designers at the WordCamp discussing bits, algorithms and data structures. Bloggers, small business owners, non-profits, educational institutions, media outlets, political organizations, and more use WordPress as their preferred publishing platform. Expect to find representatives from each of these groups talking about their communications challenges and how WordPress works for them. And feel free to join in on the conversation.

Finally, things at a WordCamp run on time! Yes, they do. The agenda is packed tight with no room for overrun, so the organizers want to keep the event running smoothly.

The After Party

Once the day’s work is done, you are invited to come to the Heart and Crown at 67 Clarence Street in the Byward Market to enjoy a refreshment, chat with friends old and new, and celebrate Ottawa’s first WordCamp. The party starts at 6:00 PM.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have more questions, please visit our FAQ section.

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