The thoughts, work and ideas of Liam Dempsey

Liam Dempsey

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This happy little website serves as a testing ground and play area for me. While the content is always 'real', the design and functionality vary from time to time as I often play with ideas here. I do so on a 'live' site so as to encourage myself to make the changes quickly.

Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup: Considering Purpose and Community

4 Responses | Posted by Liam Dempsey

Philly 'burbs WordPress Meetup

As the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup moves steadily into its second year, I want to share my own thoughts on what I consider to be the purpose, goals and spirit of the group. Admittedly, the following ideas are my own and only mine. Yet, it is my hope that in posting this writing, I can shed some light on my own hopes and aims for our growing group.

As of today, we are nearing 200 members in the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup. Some are more active than others. Some attend more regularly than others. Some deliver presentations regularly, while others prefer to join in the open conversations. That’s all wonderful. The group thrives on the diversity of its members, on their varying professional interests, skills and their independent and unique viewpoints.

The Purpose of Our Group

When I first began thinking about starting a WordPress focused meetup, I really wanted to bring together the designers and developers who work with WordPress on a daily basis and the marketers, bloggers and site administrators who use this amazing software. As stated in the About us … section of our meetup page, “We focus on both design and development considerations (tips, techniques and hacks) as well as user concerns like expanded functionality and best practices.” After 13 meetups, I hope that we are fulfilling that goal.

As can be expected with such a remit, we have a great range of skills among our members — some are quite marketing savvy while others are more technically minded. Some code sites every day, while others steer clear of code like it’s the plague. That’s great. We aim to encourage both groups (designers/developers and marketers/bloggers) to push their limits and to step outside of their comfort levels. Only by pushing ourselves and taking on new challenges can we hope to improve our skills and develop professionally.

Fertile Ground for an Exchange of Ideas

A fundamental aspect of our meetup is the exchange of ideas from people with different perspectives and different professional backgrounds. The exposure to new ideas and practices has created an engaging dynamic among our group: people learn from each other, even if they don’t always adopt each other’s ideas or practices. By immersing ourselves in an environment of shared ideas, we can develop a wider understanding of WordPress, its use and its value. I know that I have certainly learned a lot about both WordPress and, more generally, web development through the presentations and conversations that have flowed at our gatherings.

A Challenge is an Opportunity to Grow

Invariably our approach challenges some of our members — and I feel that’s a good thing. I am eager for those less code-minded to improve their technical knowledge and skill. I’m also focused on encouraging our designers and developers to learn more about the needs, work and practices of our marketing professionals and bloggers. The idea is simply the more we know, the better we can be at our job — regardless of what our job is.

From month to month, the presentations do range in their technical focus or emphasis. We may have a tech-heavy presentation in one month, followed the next month by something less so. The presentations always focus on WordPress.

What We’re Not

To be clear, we have taken deliberate steps to avoid becoming a monthly WordPress training course. Yes, we want people to learn something every month, but as we rely on our members and other volunteers to serve as speakers, I don’t think turning our meetup into a formal training environment would be feasible or even desirable.

Constructive Feedback is the Brainchild of Improvement

The beauty of a group meetup is the exchange of ideas and feedback. In group settings, especially with such an informal setting as we have with the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup, it can be difficult to get everything right for everyone at every juncture. That’s to be expected. As such, I truly appreciate when our members take the time to offer constructive insight and feedback on the comings and goings of the group. That sort of information, be it positive reviews or constructive complaints, is the only way that our meetup can improve, grow and continue to add value to our members.

Keep Moving Forward

As I look forward to our next meetup, I am reminded of a mantra of Lewis Robinson, the orphan turned brilliant inventor in Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. His byline was “Keep Moving Forward.” I hope that our own group embraces such an inspiring thought and continues to grow and flourish in the coming months and years.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, ideas, critiques and feedback below in the comments.

Posted: 31 July 2013


Categories: Popular · Social Networking · WordPress

4 Responses

Comments:

  1. Coreen T // 31 Jul 2013 at 10:27 am

    Liam,
    Great idea to write this post as a sort of checkpoint as the group grows. Not only does it give members and potential members an idea of what to expect and much information to respond to, but it also gives organizers of other groups food for thought on how they’d like to run their group.

    Continued success with Philly ‘burbs!

  2. John Davey // 31 Jul 2013 at 10:47 am

    I think these are key thoughts:
    >> I really wanted to bring together the designers and developers who work with WordPress on a daily basis

    >> To be clear, we have taken deliberate steps to avoid becoming a monthly WordPress training course.

    I am not one of those daily users, and I am more in the training mode, but out in the suburbs, there is a need for high end users to be able to meet, particularly since a lot of them might work alone. The topics might not always be immediately useful to me, but every discussion gives me at least some new ideas.

  3. Liam Dempsey // 31 Jul 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I should have added one more key point:

    I don’t see our group as a room full of competitors. I see our members as intelligent professionals with a shared interest in WordPress. In their company, I can discuss WordPress, web design and related technologies and practices. It’s an opportunity to learn, network, collaborate and grow.

    Do some of us offer similar or overlapping services? Of course. Should that stop me from trying to learn from and collaborate with those folks? Absolutely not!

  4. Corey // 31 Jul 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I travel from Lancaster, PA to attend this meetup, and I wouldn’t make the trip if the group wasn’t providing me with extraordinary value. I think your use of the words “fertile ground” is fantastic. Each month, I find myself among a room of open minds ready to learn.

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