Why WordCamp Scranton is important

Disclosure: I’m not an organizer of WordCamp Scranton, though two of my companies; Plain and Coalwork are sponsors, nor am I speaking for anyone involved with the event.

I’m personally grateful for the coverage on WNEP about WordCamp Scranton but I believe it could have been so much better. I believe WordCamp’s organizers could have done a better job of providing WNEP with the talking points about what WordCamp Scranton is, why it is important, and who should attend and I also believe WNEP could have done a bit more research to improve their coverage.

I hope going forward WNEP, and all local news outlets, considerably up their game on covering technology in our area because I firmly believe it will be one of the largest areas of economic growth over the next three decades.

That being said, here is what WordCamp is, why it is important for our area, and why Matt Mullenweg coming to do a Q&A during it may be a tent pole for technology in our area.

WordCamp Scranton is a day-long event happening at Johnson College. WordCamps are events centered around discussions relating to a piece of open source software, WordPress, that powers 23%+ of the top 10M web sites. It has become an integral part of the web. In fact, many of the local news station’s own web sites are powered by WordPress.

WNEP’s web site, in fact, is powered by WordPress VIP (pricing starts at $5,000/month) — a cloud-based WordPress hosting service from Automattic — the company that manages the bulk of the activities behind this open source project. So WNEP obviously sees the value of WordPress by paying a decent sum to have it hosted by professionals.

WordCamp is a very serious, educational, and valuable event for a huge number of people making their career (and good ones at that) making web sites and services based off of an open source project that is over 10 years old. WordPress has thousands and thousands of collaborators and is used by companies such as The New York Times, Yahoo!, CNN, Time, UPS, and more.

Careers can be started and bolstered at WordCamps. I’ve heard many stories of people attending WordCamps for the first time and that being the starting point of them changing careers and becoming WordPress developers or designers. A WordPress developer or designer is capable of earning $80,000 or more per year and are in high demand. There are not that many jobs the Scranton area that can promise that.

WordCamps have been held in hundreds of locations around the world. As I’ve mentioned I’ve attended WordCamps in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Honolulu, Phoenix, and New York City. Each of them have been seminal events for my career. I believe WordCamp Scranton will be no different.

I’m sure many WordCamp attendees in our area are looking forward to meeting Matt Mullenweg who is traveling here to do a Q&A session during WordCamp. However, I believe everyone in business should be looking forward to this session. Matt is someone who many people in technology have admired for a decade or more. This is bigger news than many realize and will likely be looked at as a fairly pivotal moment for Scranton.

Matt is the CEO of Automattic which has 350+ employees (I think?) and is valued north of $1.1B. He’s the lead developer of an open source project that runs a considerable portion of the Internet. And, his angel investment and research company, Audrey Capital, has made dozens of interesting investments over the last few years. Matt coming to do a Q&A in Scranton is akin to Elon Musk, Marissa Mayer, Tim Cook, Andrea Jung or Satya Nadella coming to Scranton. Overstating? Wait five years.

None of this is to say that Matt should have fanboy followers (which I’m sure he does) but that “everyday people” that are interested in technology, in business development, in investments, and in building a company from $1 to $1B may be interested in what he has to say. And I believe his Q&A will inspire WordCamp attendees to do better at their current jobs, to become entrepreneurs themselves, and could even lead to investment in this area as a result.

Technology hasn’t been only for the young or only for the geeky for decades. Our area has the habit of thinking that computing, the internet, programming, or digital design is something that only a select few are capable of. We need to curb this trend and begin to cover what is happening with technology in our area the same effort we do with politics, the economy, healthcare, and other important sectors of our lives.

WordCamp Scranton is important. It is nearly sold out. And I’m looking forward to it.