WordCamp Birmingham 2023 – Recap
WordCamp Y’all! This is one of those camps that means a lot to me. As I mentioned at our WordCamp Birmingham of 2019 recap, it was the first time I spoke in English at a WordCamp. As we say in Costa Rica, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
A lot of days, a pandemic, a lot of WordPress and WordCamp experiences, a lot more talks I’ve been able to give, and of course, a lot more WordPress friends.
This camp, I keep close to my heart. As with the last Camp, I traveled from San Jose to Houston and then to Birmingham. Unfortunately, my flight from San Jose took more than two hours to depart. Thus, I couldn’t make the connection (the last flight to Birmingham) and had to spend the night in Houston.
Some people hate United; I think these things happen no matter what airline. It’s happened on pretty much all of the airlines I’ve traveled with, but okay, maybe United does it a bit more than the rest.
But that wasn’t the only setback.
I wasn’t prepared for the temperatures. I didn’t think Alabama would be this cold! So, after staying the night in Houston, I was bumped to fly to Birmingham the following day but was still able to get in time for the speaker dinner.
The entire WordCamp was held at WorkPlay, which is like a mixture of a Live Music Bar alongside a Cabaret Style Theater right in downtown Birmingham. The cool thing was that the entire Camp was hosted there.
From speaker dinner to the afterparty, and of course, the Camp itself. This usually isn’t like that for smaller camps.
I felt the place was cozy and way better than the one we had in 2019. The Reason was that this one was right in downtown Birmingham and not in Homewood. And the second reason, as I said, is everything was there.
This Camp was small, so the whole classroom/cabaret stage felt way more intimate and adequate.
Speaker and Sponsor Dinner
S,o I arrived late and got baptized as “Mr. Late”. By who? Well, they were doing this whole murder act within the speaker dinner by two actors from WorkPlay.
I thought this was a great idea.
Had never seen a live play like this at a WordCamp before with the whole plot thing, but the speakers were given clues as to who the killer was, etc., and had to get on stage (randomly) to be a part of the act.
It was brilliant and quite entertaining. Having been to some Camps before, you are used to the normal dinner of people eating and speaking. But this whole thing was interacting with the crowd and you being part of the whole play.
I thought it was lovely.
After a lot of laughs, I don’t know who the murderer was, to be honest, only the suspects. Once that was over, I was able to see some familiar faces which I hadn’t seen since WCUS, like Jessi, Nev, Nathan, Ryan, William, and Aida, and how can I forget, my beloved Kathryn, whom I hadn’t seen since 2019.
It was so great to see them again.
Day 1 of WordCamp Birmingham
My presentation was ready. I could attend the Camp as a speaker and enjoy it. When you are attending like this, it is different than sponsoring because of not being on the stand all day and missing out on most of the talks.
You see some, not all. But networking is always there, and it’s always cool. So, time for some talks.
This was my first talk seen in Birmingham this year. No surprise, a techie one! I just love them. I have seen Micah at quite a few Camps before, as he is with the Bluehost crew, and I’ve always felt a deep admiration for his knowledge when it comes to development.
He is also a great guy, always there for some good conversations.
His talk was about PROPER debugging. To make matters short and sweet, I, Marco Berrocal, as a WordPress developer with almost 15 years of experience, am doing a terrible job at debugging.
His talk was cool because it makes debugging a part of the whole sequence as to how WordPress boots and you can more or less see exactly where your code fails and see what’s being done at that time, instead of dumping stuff into the browser and looking at data that is not coming out right.
The downside is that his talk uses LocalWP to debug with VSCode whereas when I develop, I use 10upDocker, which requires to use Docker and thus, you need both to talk to each other (debugging with 10upDocker).
After lunch, with some of the known gals and guys, it was time for my session.
My talk was about Consent Management Platforms, which are the consent elements you give in regard to your privacy settings as to what you want websites to do (and not do). In non-techie and in my girlfriend terms, it means “that little box at the bottom that I hit “Accept All”.
The talk was to go over what Consent Management is, why it is important and the key takeaways were for people to know what manual blocking is and how it works, and furthermore, how to find a plugin that suits your needs.
Some people need auto-blocking, others need to control the design aspect, and others want to add manually the cookies in order to deal with them.
The talk went quite well. I had the crowd’s interest and there were questions, which is what one always wants at a talk.
Since my talk was the last of the day and the Camp was from Saturday to Sunday, the speaker party was right after day one. I had a few beers and called it a night because I was, quite frankly, exhausted.
Since WorkPlay had a bar and whatnot, it was quite cool. As I said, everything was right there, and no need to move.
By morning, I was well-rested and ready to go. I networked a lot during the day and was interested in two talks, but first I wanted to submit my workshops for WCEU, because the deadline was on that Sunday, and well, I hadn’t done that yet.
I decided to go into the lounge room when Nev Harris came in.
I had seen Nev quite a lot of times since WordCamp Miami 2020 in March, which by the way, was the last WordCamp I went to before…well, you know what happened in 2020.
Since then, I had seen Nev in WordCamp Europe, WordCamp US, and now in Alabama. We had never actually spoken a lot, but since he was there, we started.
He reminded me I had blogged about him on our WordCamp Miami 2020 recap, which not only had I completely forgotten about, but he told me it made a positive impact on his subsequent WordCamp experience.
It felt really gratifying the stuff we spoke about and the fact that giving an opinion about someone had made such a good impact on someone.
So Nev, here is to you and many more Camps, talks, and good times!
Once I had submitted my workshops, it was time to attend two more talks. The first one was by Haktan Suren called How to Do Lead Tracking in WordPress which was about UTM values, campaigns and things specifically related to UTM.
He was at my talk since he is very interested in the cookie aspect I discussed, and it went quite well.
Last but not least, my buddy, Stevica Golosin talked about WooCommerce and SEO. It was a fantastic talk.
And just like that, our WordCamp was over.
An End to a Great Weekend
After we were done, a few of us went to have Indian food. It was so-so and just like that, WordCamp Birmingham 2023 was over. I think it was a success and it brings up the question I always have…
Which is best? Small, intimate Camps such as these, or large ones, such as WordCamp US, Europe, etc? Each always has its pros and cons and what you gotta do is enjoy them for what they are.
Until next time!