411. WordCamp Sacramento

Saturday, September 16th, I attended WordCamp, Sacramento, and it was a disaster. I left when there were still hours remaining in the first day of a two day conference.

Don’t get me wrong. I was impressed; the conference was well organized and the presenters were knowledgable. The problem was in the advertising. There should have been a disclaimer to warn people like me to stay away. I’ll explain further, below.

About three years ago I decided to blog and set about learning how. It took a while and there were lots of wrong turns along the way. I began by studying HTML and CSS. (see 408. Behind the Curtain) I’m glad I did. That study gave me some deep background knowledge, and some specific skills as well.

Do you check out the comments when you read someone’s blog? I always do. There is a lot of back patting but also some interesting insights. J. M. Williams, in a comment on the post above, said that HTML served him better than algebra. That sounds entirely reasonable. I don’t use it often, but I couldn’t do without it when I need it.

Well into learning HTML and CSS, i stumbled on WordPress and found a way of blogging without coding. There are others who provide the same kind of service. Blogster comes to mind. I have seen blogs done on Blogster that looked great. I’ve never used it, so I don’t know how seamless the user experience is. That’s all I can say about Blogster.

On the other hand, I have worked with WordPress for about two and a half years. It comes in two flavors, WordPress.org and WordPress.com. From the user’s viewpoint, they are quite different.

WordPress.org is the master organization, largely staffed by volunteers, which provides the basic code that underpins everything else. They do not provide themes, plugins, hosting service, and so forth, but they are quite willing to help you find those things for yourself. They are the people who put on WordCamp and more power to them, even though it didn’t work for me.

WordPress.com is a one stop shop. The provide WordPress software (via the dot org people), hosting, themes, a plugin master pack, and they will sell you a URL or let you use one of theirs for free.

Big hint: if you plan to blog, buy your URL as soon as possible, before someone else gets it. The name you call your blog is much less important. If you google sydlogsdon.com, you’ll get me every time. If you google A Writing Life, you’ll get me and a hundred other bloggers who call their sites the same thing.

If all you want to do it write a blog, go WordPress.com. If you love the tech stuff, or if you have sophisticated tastes in aesthetics, or if you plan to run a business, dot org gives you much more flexibility. You pay for that by working harder at the tech side of your craft

WordCamp Sacramento was by and for the dot org side of WordPress. Three-quarters of what they presented had no application in my dot com world. The other quarter, I already knew.

Bottom line: If you are a dot organism there are WordCamps all over and you will probably find them useful. Most of the readers of my blog are dot commies, and don’t need what WordCamp provides. more Wednesday


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