On Friday Lyndi, Sarah and I attended the Open Everything event hosted by Mark, Helen (of the ShuttleWorth foundation) and Phillip (of the University of the Western Cape). Rob was originally meant to talk at the event but due to the iGoogle Gadget conference in Jo’burg he asked me to fill his spot.
As we hadn't been given much background information we arrived there more than a little blind. Thankfully Helen was there to fill in the gaps and issue us with our kick-ass t-shirts. The gift certainly put me in a better mood (especially as I was ill and had originally booked myself off work for the day).
The afternoon's proceedings were, in true unconference style, scribbled on a large piece of paper stuck on the wall. I was to be a SpeedGeek for the third event on the agenda. I was naturally a little concerned about the SpeedGeek speaking format (which I had never even heard of before).
After a short description by Mark, I was sent into my SpeedGeek station and the proceedings began. This is how it worked: SpeedGeeks were distributed around the room. Then all the “delegates” were divided into groups and sent to a station, so that all stations had roughly the same amount of people. SpeedGeeks then had 5 minutes to talk about their Open Project (naturally I spoke about our eMarketing textbook). After 5 minutes the groups rotated and the SpeedGeek would start the process again with a different group of people. It's an elevator pitch on steroids, really tiring but a whole lot of fun!
Early Saturday morning I clawed my way out of bed (still not feeling well) and headed through to WordCamp. Many of the attendees resembled first years who had drunk too much the night before, and had somehow made it to an 8am lecture (no names – you guys know who you are).
This said, the day was great, with excellent talks by a range speakers covering a variety of topics. Two excellent presentations that stood out for me were by Matt Mullenweg (founder of Wordpress) and Dave Duarte (founder of Huddlemind and South Africa’s Creative Commons Lead).
Matt’s presentation was on Open Online Business and he shared some crazy Wordpress usage statistics (I just wish I had written them down). It was fascinating and very refreshing that somebody who’s done as well as he has can remain such a humble and approachable individual. Matt – much respect due!
Dave Duarte then spoke about lifestreaming in Wordpress, which touched on a whole range of topics from the attention economy to how RSS has become a better time management tool.
Both events were excellent as they provided some cutting edge content and gave me a chance to meet a whole lot of Jozi based guys who I hadn’t had an opportunity to meet “in the real world”, including Mike Stopforth, Vincent Maher and Matthew Buckland. Thank you to the hosts and organisers!