WordCamp Seattle was this past weekend at the Washington State Convention Center, just a few short blocks away from LexBlog’s offices. This was my third WordCamp in four years and was a return to form (in my opinion) to the first WordCamp Seattle that I went to in 2014 (held at the University of Washington).
Hot on everyone’s mind, and the subject of many talks, was Gutenberg, the new core editor coming to a WordPress install near you in just a few short weeks (recently, the timeline for the core update was pushed back to November 27th). In talking with various attendees, it was clear that sentiment was mixed on the introduction of Gutenberg and how it would impact their business, but there was also a palpable sense of excitement and interest around the project that I haven’t seen other major core updates garner (such as the Customizer or REST API). As I’ve said before, Gutenberg is a shot to the arm for the WordPress community, and that comes with pros and cons, but Thomas Jefferson was right:
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
By this I mean, shakeups in the status quo are a necessary part of any long-term project. If you’re not constantly evaluating and adapting, then you run the risk of stagnation. It’s more clear to me now that the benefits of Gutenberg extend beyond bringing a new technology stack to the table. It’s reengaged the community and brought content managers back into the fold as integral players in the conversation about what WordPress is and how it should move forward. At LexBlog, this is a conversation that’s near and dear to our hearts (as bloggers and managers of the largest legal blogging community in the world) and so it’s exciting to play our own little role as we map out an introduction to Gutenberg for our clients.
As someone interested in what’s going on under the hood, I spent more time in technically-focused talks, but thoroughly enjoyed Andrea Zoellner’s talk on what Gutenberg could mean for the everyday writer.
Like many pieces of technology, you have no idea what people will do with Gutenberg once it’s in their hands for an extended period of time. However, if her analogy holds and Snow Fall-esque (an interactive NY Times piece that set the standard for multimedia-driven articles) blog posts will eventually be achievable for the masses, then we’re about to enter a very interesting time for bloggers using WordPress.
My other two favorite talks were from Alain Schlesser and Jon Peck.
Alain discussed how to change your way of thinking when interacting with Gutenberg, and honestly did a better job of it with his slides than with anything I could write here. The big takeaway for me was that as with all technology, there’s a path to sanity. It just might be a bit circuitous. If you’re looking for a less abstract breakdown, just go take a look at his slides!
Meanwhile, Jon Peck (of Algorithmia) tackled a subject that is a big topic on my mind and was exciting to see someone in the WordPress sphere musing on it as well: Machine learning. For LexBlog, machine learning holds the keys to how we can effectively tag and organize content on LexBlog.com (which has over 400,000 posts and 150-200+ coming in every day). For WordPress, it could mean better ways to manage forums, create advanced applications, and continue to engage the broader engineering community. His talk was a shot in the arm and has me thinking about how to move forward on projects that include components of machine learning algorithms. His slides are also well worth the review, and there was also a fun WordPress plugin that he introduced that could be used as a scaffold for many different projects.
In short, an incredibly fun and exciting WordCamp. Here’s to many more!