WordCamp Milwaukee 2013: Links and Stuff


WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 Logo

WordCamp Milwaukee 2013

Had a fabulous time at WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 Saturday. There’s a full summary and review at MichaelMcCallister.com, but here’s a link to my slides, and another to (nearly) every other presentation this weekend.

Hope your weekend was as fun and educational as mine was!

Getting Ready for WordCamp Milwaukee 2!

WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 Logo

WordCamp Milwaukee 2013

My goodness, it’s less than a month till the second WordCamp Milwaukee!

<puts on organizer hat>

During and after last year’s inaugural event, veteran WordCampers were telling us that WordCamp Milwaukee was one of the best and most informative camps they’d been to. So, of course we had to make it bigger and better for 2013!

First off, we added another half-day to the extravaganza: Foundation Friday (June 7, 2013) is going to be a set of workshops aimed at WordPress beginners: We’ll have WordPress 101 classes for new users — bloggers, business folk, anyone who is making content for the web using WordPress.

But that’s not all! <see, I’ve got my organizer/promoter hat on!>  If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, and wonder what it might be like to design themes or develop plugins for WordPress–come to Foundation Friday! We’re having a development track too!

After Foundation Friday, you’ll still have two full days (June 8-9) of WordPress learning to enjoy! Plus a repeat of the fabulous Saturday After-Party, lunch both days, the Happiness Bar (to get your specific problems addressed), and still more wonderfulness!

<Putting presenter hat on>

Right after lunch on Saturday (June 8), I will be offering a mini-preview of my next book project, talking about “Building Authority – and Audience – with WordPress and Google Author.” Building your reputation and demonstrating your authority as an expert in your particular niche can be a difficult task. Google is trying to help you, though. I’ll show you how to put your high-quality content at the top of the findability charts, with WordPress and the Google Authorship program.

Learn more about WordCamp Milwaukee, and buy your tickets at the website. And hey, if you need some help with the price, type in ‘McCallister’ for a discount when you register.

Look forward to seeing you June 7-9 at Bucketworks!

Slightly Off Topic: An Odd 21st Century Urban Moment

Normally here at Notes from the Metaverse we tend to the serious, the technical, and the educational. We are veering slightly off-course today because of a unique occurrence over lunchtime. Please bear with me, and know that This Actually Happened:

So I’m walking around downtown Milwaukee after lunch today, when I encounter a large group (perhaps a dozen?) of black-clad women huddled on the corner of Plankinton & Wells, in front of the tapas bar. They’re involved in a bit of discussion about goodness-knows-what.

List of Bohemian Rhapsody cover versions

List of Bohemian Rhapsody cover versions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I turn the corner so as not to disturb them, one of the women sees me, comes over and asks “Do you know Queen‘s Bohemian Rhapsody?” Well, yes I do, most of it anyway. “Can you sing it with me?” Another part of the group joins us; one asks “Do you know the ‘Scaramouche’ part?” Well, no (actually should have said “I don’t think anyone really knows that part for sure,” but … I digress).

Anyway, after some additional pleading, I agree to perform, and we settle on the opening part. By the way, did I mention that I had my black jacket on? I did fit in with this ensemble of four or five women in black. Another woman produces a phone/camera (one can never say with certainty anymore). I get my soda out of the frame, and declare “OK, now I’m officially terrified.” The Scaramouche woman tells me not to worry, they’ll delete it right away. We sing (a capella) the opening of Bohemian Rhapsody “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy…” up to “open your eyes, look up to the skies and seeeeee…” when someone calls it a wrap.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I see one of the other women (not part of the singalong) carrying a sign identifying the Sojourner Family Peace Center, the most prominent domestic-violence shelter in our town. I don’t get a chance to ask about that, and the sign doesn’t appear in the video.

The women thank me, and go on their merry way (after taking a still shot of the parked UPS truck a few feet down the street). Yes, I still have my wallet.

So after all this, I can say that I wasn’t ever really terrified. If you see this thing on YouTube, let me know. I’ll be happier if it has a Creative Commons license, but I won’t be angry in any case. Besides, my wife wants to see it!

If you happen to be one of the women described here, I’d love to hear more about this project. I hope you got what you needed.

For the rest of you: Feel free to share your odd urban moments or impromptu public performance stories, or even your memories of Freddy Mercury, in the Comments.

Blatant Self-Promotion: New About page, WordCamp MKE coming

English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey folks,

There’s more information coming to Notes from the Metaverse soon, but this is a short piece to tell you that I’ve updated the About Notes from the Metaverse page to tell you a little more about this blog and its author.

I can also tell you that WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 will be coming on June 8-9 at Bucketworks. The organizing committee is hard at work to bring you the best weekend of WordPress information and discussion possible. Make your plans now, and I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

Attend WordCamp Milwaukee 2012 for Just $10

If you read WordCamp Milwaukee 2012this blog at all, you probably already know that WordCamp Milwaukee is coming up real soon now. June 2 is just a week from Saturday, and the weekend after a big US holiday.

Maybe you also know I’m working on a presentation for Sunday, June 3 about what YOU can learn about WordPress just by wandering around WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

A bunch of other WordPress gurus, nearly all from Wisconsin and Illinois, will be putting on a terrific program for both extraordinary users and extraordinary WordPress developers (and by “extraordinary” I just mean YOU).

Anyway, if $20 for a whole weekend’s worth of inspiration and practical help for your WordPress site is still a little tough to justify in these hard economic times, what if I can make this weekend cost just $10? Did I forget to mention that includes lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and a fabulous after-party on Saturday night?

So how do I get this deal? Go visit the WordCamp Milwaukee ticket window, and type (or paste): wcspeaker in the Coupon Code box. And you’re in!

I really hope to see you at Bucketworks in Walker’s Point on June 2-3. You don’t have to thank me for the sweet deal, but I’ll be happy to talk to you anytime over the weekend.

Spring Conferences Galore!

Busy month ahead, with much to say and much to learn. This time of year is usually when I can go to professional conferences, but I seem much more involved with organizing them this year. In particular, I’m talking about (and at, truth be told) these two, separated by just two weeks!

Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday, May 19: WriteCamp Milwaukee 4

This “traditional un-conference” (if there can be such a thing) is for everyone who writes: Fiction, nonfiction, with multiple books and/or bylines or just a blog or a novel cooking in the word processor that no one’s ever seen. No matter what sort of writing project you’re interested in doing, there’s a place for you at WriteCamp.

What’s traditional about this un-conference? Well, the biggest thing is that there’s no set schedule. You’ll come in to the Hide House in beautiful Bay View, in the southeast corner of Milwaukee and encounter a blank wall with time slots and rooms demarcated with tape. Want to lead a session about something? Take a Post-It note and slap the topic in one of the blank slots. You’re in! Of course, some of us have posted some ideas for sessions on the website already. You can add some there too. There are no guarantees that any of them will be presented–but if you post a comment on the ones you want to see, the people with the idea will be impressed (believe me!).

I have learned more than a little at previous WriteCamps, mostly about social media and freelance practices. I’ve led sessions on the future of journalism and held WordPress clinics. This year, I’m planning sessions on getting into technical communication and “WordPress for Writers.”

The other traditionally unconference-y thing that WriteCamp Milwaukee adheres to is that it is free to attend (though if you’re in Milwaukee tonight, April 26, check out the comedy benefit at Stonefly Brewery!), and you get lunch, a mid-day poetry slam demonstration, and a tote bag with assorted goodies besides the education.

WordCamp Milwaukee 2012

Things are really heating up for the first ever WordCamp in Milwaukee, set for the first weekend in June, and that’s terrific!

We have a spectacular lineup of speakers  for both the User track and the Developer track. These WordPress gurus are mostly from the Greater Milwaukee area and from that city of big shoulders a little south of here. You even get two authors of WordPress books: I’ll be the one standing in Lisa Sabin-Wilson‘s shadow.

What am I talking about? All about the amount of help any WordPress user can get just by kicking around the WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites.

There’s an un-conference track, where people will be running informal sessions on topics yet to be determined (and yes, you can get in on that too). And we’re working hard to staff the Happiness Bar for the full conference. This is where users and developers can get answers to their particular problems.

We’re working on some fun stuff too, but it’s not ready to unveil yet.

Unlike WriteCamp, WordCamp Milwaukee costs, though not much (just $20). Buy your ticket before May Day to guarantee your commemorative t-shirt.

All this activity is forcing me to miss the annual Technical Communication Summit sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication in Rosemont, Illinois. But you can follow news from the summit via my pals at TechWhirl.com.

Hope to see you at one of these swell gigs!

Dreaming of Summer — and WordCamp Milwaukee!

Wordcamp San Francisco

Image by planetc1 via Flickr

You have no idea how excited I am that WordCamp is coming to Milwaukee next June 2-3, 2012. A small group of us, led by Scott Offord, have been laying the groundwork for this two-day conference on all things WordPress at Bucketworks. We’re ready to accept visitors.

What’s WordCamp? It’s a gathering of WordPress users of all types, where the experienced can share what they know and the neophyte can share their enthusiasm and quandaries. It’s for folks who just started blogging at WordPress.com. It’s for folks who want to understand how plugins work (and maybe why it’s not).  It’s for bloggers, designers, developers … anyone who wants to learn more about WordPress.

Things are still in the early planning stages, but we can tell you the weekend will feature three tracks:

  • User Track: more focused on the end-user (bloggers, writers, customers, clients, less-technical, marketing, experience-driven, plugins to make your life easier, SEO, etc)
  • Developer Track: more focused on web development using WordPress (Frameworks, creating plugins, customizing the dashboard, contributing to the open source project code, etc)
  • Unconference Track: It being at Bucketworks, the home of BarCamp Milwaukee and so many other unconferences, you know we’d have one. This track is more focused on multi-person discussion (create your own session, conversational, philosophical, interactions about WordPress-related topics, unplanned and only slightly structured and guided by you)

In between sessions, we want to set up a “Happiness Bar,” where you can get specific questions answered and problems solved with the help of experts. We’re trying to think of other fun and useful things to do.

You can sign up for WordCamp Milwaukee 2012 right now for the early bird rate of just $20 at the Milwaukee WordPress Meetup site. In the new year, we’ll put out a call for speakers, and launch a more formal site at WordCamp Central.

Want to know more about WordCamps? You can see a ton of video from past WordCamps at Wordcamp.TV. Live around here and want to help? Tell me or sign up at Meetup.

You hear a lot about “community” around open source software generally, and certainly around WordPress. WordCamp is where that community can make itself felt. Hope to see you in June!

Feel free to share your WordCamp memories and questions in the Comments.

BarCampMilwaukee6 Just Two Weeks Away!

Have I mentioned this lately: I love conferences! There’s not much better times than the opportunity to get together with folks of like interests, like mind and similar skills, get away from the day to day and schmooze. Occasionally, even learning takes place. For serendipity and wide-ranging topics, few conferences beat the ones falling under the  BarCamp umbrella.

A week from Saturday (October 1), BarCampMilwaukee 6 opens at Bucketworks on South Fifth Street in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. If you happen to be within traveling distance, you should come. You will meet fabulous people, eat marvelous food, play with assorted ideas and toys,and probably get a t-shirt too. For the second year, there will also be KidsCamp, which should be great fun. As always, there will be robots, too. Did I mention it’s all free of charge? Unless, of course, you want to make a donation.

You can peruse the Conferences and such category here to learn more about all six versions of BCMKE. Register for BCMKE6 at the site. Watch this space for further reminiscing.

And speaking of conferences, watch this space too for some WordPress news.

New Milwaukee WordPress Meetup

Goodness how time flies–nearly as fast as deadlines whipping by! I know things have been a bit quiet here in the Metaverse, but things should be returning to the semi-normal weekly post pace because there’s so much in the Linux/WordPress/Open Source world to talk about. But most importantly, my chapters of the next edition of WordPress in Depth are in the hands of our brilliant editing team. Very soon, I should be able to tell you when that should be hitting store shelves (virtual or not).

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I am so excited that The Milwaukee WordPress Meetup is about to hold its first meeting next week! Next Monday, March 28 at 7PM, join fellow Milwaukee-area WordPressers at Packy’s Pub near General (Billy) Mitchell International Airport to talk about all the great new things in WordPress v3.1 (just one of the things that happened while we were in radio silence).

Tragically (for me anyway), I’m not expecting to be there. A last-minute scheduling problem with the venue moved the Meetup from Tuesday to Monday, bringing on an even-later scheduling conflict with me. You can bet I’ll be at the next one, though.

Get all the details, and sign up to attend Monday at the Meetup site.

WriteCamp2: A Stimulating and Energizing Day

Had a marvelous time at WriteCamp Milwaukee 2 Saturday.

Mercy Hill Church at the Hide House is a fantastic venue, which you can see for yourself in the Flickr feed. The space was broken up into five session areas: Two in the main “sanctuary” area, with plenty of separation, so no one got confused by audio bleedthrough; three smaller classrooms.

The whole conference had a pretty analog feel to it for this techie. I brought my laptop, and lugged it around unopened pretty much all day. I confined my notes to pen and paper.

Sessions were 45 minutes long, with 15 minutes in between to move around. Usually enough time to take another look at the board and pick another location. Take a look at the full schedule. This review will of necessity take up only the sessions I could attend.

Morning Sessions

First session was with Daniel Goldin of Boswell Books. While mostly focused on fiction, he had great stories about the business of book selling. Best factoid, only peripherally writing-related: you  know how mass-market paperbacks used to be all the same size, around 6″ x 5″? As the reading population has aged, publishers made the paperbacks a little bit taller, so the font could be bigger!

Next up, I went to my only foray into the fiction realm, a session called “Reading as a Writer” hosted by Chris (whose last name I never did get — sorry!), an English prof at Columbia College in Chicago. He brought readings from three short stories (Gogol’s “The Nose,” John McNally’s “The Vomitorium” and something from Katherine Anne Porter). He would pick random people in the crowd to read a page or so aloud, and then we’d discuss the memorable bits of material on the page. Chris emphasized that simply by noting what stands out in a reading will improve our own writing. For fiction writers, the lesson was not to get all hung up on the symbolism and the Great Message behind a story (at least not at first). Just concentrate on the details that pull you into a story and make a story memorable. Good lessons for nonfiction writers too.

Todd Sattersten of 100 Best Business Books of All Time fame led another business-and-marketing session with perhaps the best title of the day: “Venture Capital, Viruses and Versioning: Three Things Every (Book) Author Needs to Know.” Do I need to tell you he knows a bit about marketing? This was the most satisfying session I attended.

The Venture Capital part of this talk is a reminder that publishers are really good for just two basic components of book marketing: Distribution (getting your book into bookstores) and Media Connections (getting media attention for your title). Authors are responsible for connecting with readers. As one publisher explains: “I can’t sell a copy to your mother.” The venture capital analogy works like this: Venture capital for a startup is (when it’s good) about giving your business a chance to succeed. After that, it’s up to you.  As an author, if you’re not conscious of this reality, chances are your title won’t sell, and maybe you don’t get a second chance.

Once you have the idea firmly implanted that it’s your job to market your book effectively, you want to do everything you can to create a buzz around it. Today, that’s often about making your book and its idea(s) viral. Recommending Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, Todd explained the six basic elements of an idea that sticks: It’s Simple, Unexpected and interesting, concrete, tells a story, and is credible.

The last part of the session was about versioning: Make your content/idea available in as many ways as possible. Find your audience, and let your audience find you. One example: Someone apparently turned a chapter of her novel into a PowerPoint presentation. Building an audience through a blog on the topic. Always put your audience first.

Lunch and Afterwards

The lunch break featured a Slam Poetry demo by members of the Milwaukee slam team preparing to contest for a national title this summer in Minneapolis. You’d also find me feverishly preparing for my session(s).

We had an excellent discussion about “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” based on the book of that title by John Nichols and Bob McChesney. The discussion was greatly enhanced by the presence of Ricardo Pimentel, who runs the editorial page at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was willing to offer some on-the-ground perspective on the state of the newspaper business. Unfortunately, time ran out just as we were getting into a rather spirited discussion of coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I do think it was a worthwhile conversation.

After running my own session, it was nice to decompress in a smaller session about real-life networking dos and don’ts.

After the networking session, I had a great conversation with Karen Ford, Internal Organizing Vice President of the National Writers Union. She came up from Chicago to see what this WriteCamp thing was all about. We may have more to announce at some point down the road.

At the end of the day, I opened myself up for questions about WordPress. This session was lightly attended, but lots of fun (presumably all the real WordPress geeks were at WordCampChicago). We worked to solve a problem where  commenters weren’t getting notified when someone responded to them. Someone else was interested in the differences between WordPress blogging and wikis. I also talked about some strategies to get more readers.

All in all, a great day! I’m really looking forward to next year. I’m also hoping there’s a way to keep WordCampChicago from conflicting! Reports from that conference sounded great too.