WordCamp Europe 2013 in Leiden, the Netherlands was an initial event to bring the whole European WordPress community closer together. It worked and sparkled a lot of events in this big community. I was there last year, even with my whole family to have a few more days of vacation in Holland :).
The plan for me was to repeat that experience every year then if there was a new WordCamp Europe. Good intentions. So WordCamp Europe 2014 Edition was announced last spring, it should happen in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Awesome stuff.
Shortly after the announcement planning began so I (or we as family) could attend this event. Looking forward to it!
However, in the summer I had to leave WordCamp Hamburg – the German WordCamp of 2014 – just before it really began. I had my wife and our little daughter with me and sometimes there are times when your kid gets sick. So we had to leave early on, drive home again on the Autobahn. No WordCamp for me, my prepared session and lightning talk couldn’t happen. At least a friend did my session from my slides. That was great, but still, only a small consolation.
So, the plan again was to focus on the September WordCamp in Sofia. And then I lost some part-time job I had for a long time. Not that I was doing anything wrong or so, just the partner decided for another alternative. That’s life. The day, this decision was told me, it was clear to me that WordCamp Europe wouldn’t happen for me this year. Not me alone attending, neither with my family. My mind was clear about this, however, in my heart a deep depression and frustration began.
The cost of travelling is currently too much for me: Departure on Friday, return flight on Tuesday (that would have meant arriving the evening before the first WordCamp day and leaving the day after the Contributor Day) plus all hotel costs, plus costs for pubs/ restaurants on the evenings… At least a few hundred Euros, that I just don’t have at the moment, in a difficult transformation phase of my business.
So, my mind decided for the “Armchair WordCamp” option early on. From Thursday to the following Tuesday I followed my Twitter stream and the #WCEU hashtag closely, to get a feeling what’s going on and what are important topics, jokes, whatever… :).
Of course, this was an AWESOME experience to say the least, but, on the other hand it was also a total painful experience! With every tweet, and every picture I got reminded that I just was not there in person, not on the ground in Sofia rocking WordPress community “live”! :-(
This might sound as kindergarten to some, however, for someone like me who is so deep into WordPress, Open Source (love me some Linux…) and the community, this just hurts, hurts, hurts – sometimes.
Looking back: Armchair Word-camping was (and is) great! You should do it via the special website for it or your own Twitter stream, hashtag, list, or on Instagram for some great pictures. You get so many info, feelings, slides, links, comments, opinions and experiences in 140 characters, it nicely captures the spirit of an event. At least I hope so.
It is not the end of the World to not be there at a WordCamp in person. I know there are dozens – or even hundreds, thousands? – of other developers and community people who couldn’t make it this year as well. Sometimes life gets in between. You cannot do anything about it. Thanks to our networked world and our gadgets we can at least follow along and get some tiny parts of what’s happening at the pulse of WordCamp.