WordCamp Nepal 2013 Recap

This past weekend I spoke at WordCamp Nepal 2013 about How To Become A WordPress Theme Developer. A synopsis of the talk is here, and you can find slides and links from the talk here (I suspect that I’ll want to turn this into another detailed essay for Code Poet like I did with last year’s talk, as it went over extremely well.)

Misc. Notes

  • There were around 150-160 total attendees. It’s not because of demand but because the facility, Yalamaya Kendra, could only hold this many people. It’s the same one that was used last year, and I suspect that next year the organizers will choose a location that supports more people. The demand for the event is huge and the Facebook group for WordPress in Nepal has over 1600 members now.
  • In general WiFi connections in Kathmandu seem spotty at best, even in the hotels. For any of you who come to Nepal and want to make sure that you have a backup in place for locations that do not support good WiFi, purchase an Ncell SIM card at the airport on arrival into KTM with data and use it for tethering.
  • Naoko and I have talked a lot about this with each other: the GPL is both widely misunderstood and widely unknown in Asia. I made it a point in my talk to spend several minutes on explaining how important it is for new WordPress theme and plugin developers to read up on the GPL and learn about the philosophies behind it if they want to become integral parts to the WordPress community. I honestly do not think that people who are hesitant about the GPL are wrong or bad; it’s entirely a matter of exposure and culture, and the culture around the GPL is largely a Western construct. For someone new to the WordPress community the best thing any one of us can do is to gracefully introduce the GPL as a “this is really important in the WordPress community” statement and less of a “you must do this” statement. For anyone looking to speak in Asia about WordPress, I encourage you to talk to people about the GPL and figure out what they think about it and how much they know about it.
  • I floated the idea of WordCamp Asia to some of the volunteers and organizers and they absolutely loved it. WordPress communities in Asia are becoming stronger by the day; Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea are all fine examples of communities that have strong growth, and from personal experience organizing the meetup group in Hanoi I can say that the sense of community and freshness in Asia is large. One of the main differences between a WordCamp in the States and a WordCamp in Asia that I notice is how familial everything is in Asia. It’s not just business that people talk about but there is a real sense of closeness among individuals in this area that goes beyond WordPress. I sense that in the States to some degree, but not anywhere near the amount I see in Asia. Communities and social gatherings in Asia around WordPress have the potential to really spur on the adoption of WordPress in the region.
  • One of my favorite parts of the event was how theme-heavy it was. There were so many talks about themes and design, and many people at WordCamp Nepal approached me to ask about all things themes. I chalk a lot of this up to how successful themes have been for business in the community, but Chandra (one of my ex-coworkers and one of our WordPress.com partners in Graph Paper Press) has been a good example of a successful themer in the region as well. Another great leader in the theme space in Nepal is Sakin of Catch Themes. Underscores gets a massive amount of attention in the region as well, which is cool.
  • I met with Surendra Shrestha, a “Certified Top Notch WP Contractor” at Codeable.io. This is a very interesting service. I believe that Surendra is the only contractor based in Nepal, and he had great things to say about the company. He focused on the the extensive interview and vetting process that contractors go through in order to become members of Codeable, and said that things have been going really well for the company. I’m excited to hear more about them, as the primary two companies that I’ve mostly paid attention to in the customization space have been Tweaky and WerkPress.
  • One thing I noticed last year and this year at WordCamp Nepal is how few women there were at the event. My unscientific view was that 99.9% of the attendees were men, with 2 women acting as MC’s. One community that has done a really good job of including women in its WordPress events is the Philippines. I think that one way for Nepal to increase the number of women at the WordCamps and WordPress meetup would be to create some topics targeted at new users and bloggers, not just developers, to even the balance of women out a bit.
  • Not many downsides to the event. The audio had a few glitches and towards the end of the day people were tired, so our panel discussion on themes was somewhat subdued, but otherwise there weren’t any major red flags at the event at all. They really do it right in Nepal.
  • Relationships and networking mean everything in Asia. I’m excited about the next year or so in Asia as far as WordPress goes.

Images

Some of these few were taken by me and some of these were taken by Sanam. There are lots more on the WordCamp Nepal website and the WordPress Nepal Facebook group. There are over 250 photos; give them a look!

Continue reading “WordCamp Nepal 2013 Recap”