Last week I went out to Utah for a conference titled “The Evolution of Women is Social Media” (evo’11). I attended to work at the WordPress Happiness Bar along with a couple of colleagues, Sheri and Krista, from Automattic.
First, I should explain what a Happiness Bar is in case you’ve never visited one. You know the Genius Bars in Apple stores? A Happiness Bar is the same idea, but we help people with their WordPress questions and problems. The name comes from the job title Happiness Engineer we use at Automattic for the people on our Support (Happiness) Team.
Ok, so back to the conference. As a single guy, I felt a bit out-of-place at the conference. There were women everywhere, many of them pregnant, many of them married with children. I was out of my comfort zone to say the least. Everyone was very friendly, extremely positive, and as helpful as you could ever want, but the bottom line is it’s not a conference designed for single guys. I don’t mean anything negative by that, but it’s a fact I felt I needed to include for completeness.
With that said, I had a really good time at the conference. We really felt the love for WordPress. Organizers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees made us feel so welcome and helped to make our jobs pretty easy. Some of the common comments I heard:
- “We love WordPress!”
- “I recently switched to WordPress and love it.”
- “Sally (or insert name here), you should really switch to WordPress. Everyone’s using it for a reason.”
I’ve worked Happiness Bars at WordCamps and BlogWorld Expo where there’s a mix of bloggers and developers. From what I could tell at evo’11 the conference was mostly composed of bloggers, which was cool. We were able to connect with the women producing content. We transferred several blogs from Blogger over to WordPress, configured permalinks, and recommended many cool plugins. I hope we were able to help everyone that needed help.
The conference had some great swag, including free books and shoes. Breakfasts, snacks, and lunches were all great. Both of these things were possible because of an impressive list of sponsors such as Bush’s, McDonald’s, Pepperidge Farm, Johnson & Johnson, New Balance, Sesame Street, Southwest Airlines, Huggies, Kodak, Xbox 360, PBS, and many others.
The Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah was the home of evo’11. It’s a beautiful place. I stayed at the Sundial Lodge where my room was great. The resort sits in the middle of a mountain range so there are plenty of activities to do, especially if you like the outdoors.
I didn’t attend any of the sessions or workshops, but did get to sit in on the closing keynote by Me Ra Koh. She talked about some of her life experiences starting with a story of date rape, how she got through it, and is taking advantage of every moment she has in life. It was an inspiring story that reminded me of the opportunities I have that I should be taking more advantage of.
Adventure is the exploration of unknown territory.
Me Ra Koh
If there was one thing I’ll always remember about evo’11 it was the great sense of community I witnessed. It reminded be of the WordPress community in a lot of ways. I talked to women blogging about their families, travel, crafts, and hobbies. I talked to women managing social media for large companies. I talked to women writing about women. I talked to women from Utah, Michigan, and cities across the United States. All of these women seemed to know each other, which was unique for any conference I’ve attended. These women read each others blogs and helped each other out however they could. The conference felt like a meeting of hundreds of sisters.
If you are a women writing on the web, I would highly recommend attending next year. They’re already planning for 2012. If you want to find out more about the conference, check out evoconference.com, the @EvoConf Twitter account, or the #evoconf Twitter hashtag.
I’ll be speaking at WordCampNYC next month, which is exciting and scary. Not sure what my topic will be, but I think it will be in the Newbie track. The speaker list is full of WordPress rock star talent, so if you are in the area make sure to sign up and come out. The program has something for everyone.