Video of My WordCamp Toronto presentation

I spoke last weekend at WordCamp Toronto. In fact, the organizers put me on the stage as the lead off speaker – directly before WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. Now, that’s a humbling experience.

With Matt Mullenweg following me, along with all the other fabulous WordPress developers who were speaking later, I felt I shouldn’t focus on the technology of WordPress. Instead, I decided to try to set the tone for the conference by talking about the development of the social Web and the central role that WordPress and other blogging platforms have come to play.

Finally, I wanted the people in the room to recognize right from the start that the wisdom of WordCamp was not exclusively on the stage, but was distributed among the participants. So, after my opening remarks, I used half of my time to invite any participants who had developed WordPress plug-ins, themes and Websites based on WordPress to stand up and let people know what they’d done. In fact, I think that was the best part of my session. I was really impressed with the abundance of smart, creative work being done by the participants.

Mark Wood captured and posted video of my presentation on Vimeo.

WordCamp Toronto 2008 – Joeseph Thornley Keynote from Mark Wood on Vimeo.

I’m used to Twittering and live blogging other speakers at conferences. But it’s rare that I get to see myself. So, thank you Mark. You’ve given me a chance to critique my own presentation.

On the positive side, I feel I’m making real progress toward my goal of telling a story in an engaging fashion and using the slides only to illustrate what I’m saying (no more bullet points and reading from the screen.) On the not so positive side, I still have to work to reduce the Um’s and Ah’s when I’m speaking and to punctuate my presentation with a bit more animation in my voice. Oh, and I have to stop swaying back and forth and walk a little more purposefully across the stage.

What do you think of this presentation? Do you agree with the content? Are there other points you think I should have made?

Meet WordCamp Toronto Organizer Melissa Feeney

WordCamp Toronto 2008WordCamp Toronto is happening this weekend. And like all great community events, it will only happen as a result of the efforts of volunteers who give generously of their time and effort.

I caught up with Melissa Feeney at Third Tuesday Toronto. Melissa is one of the founding organizers of WordCamp Toronto, along with Mathieu Yuill.

She told me that WordCamp has been programmed to be of interest not just to developers and people who use WordPress, but that the sessions will be of interest to anyone who has any interest in blogging, including students, people in the PR industry and even those who have just discovered Perez Hilton. :-)

And where did they get the idea to organize WordCamp in Toronto? Melissa says that they attended WordCamp in Dallas and were impressed with the concept. They decided that WordCamp would enrich the community in Toronto. And bingo. Here we are.

Thank you to Melissa, Mathieu and all the organizers who have invested so much of themselves to make WordCamp Toronto something that we all can benefit from.

Your favourite WordPress plug-ins?

WordCamp Toronto 2008In my presentation at WordCamp Toronto this weekend. I’d like to illustrate how WordPress plug-ins have extended the power of WordPress as a publishing platform.

Plug-ins that stand out

What do you think are the best plug-ins for WordPress? What are the most innovative? What extend its capabilities as a platform? What make it easier to use?

What my Twitter Friends Say

Here are some of the answers I received when I asked my Twitter friends what their favourite WordPress plug-ins are:

Jason Prini, @jasonprini, suggests two plug-ins: He says “you should never have a WP install without am XML sitemap generator” and “for bilingual blogging qTranslate is the BEST I’ve found yet.”

Andraz Tori, @andraz, volunteers “Dopplr, Disqus (and Zemanta naturally).” Andraz is the founder of Zemanta. I just discovered the plug-in thanks to his tweet. I haven’t tried it out, but I’m really intrigued by it. (Malcolm Bastien, @malcolmbastien, also suggested Zemanta. Thanks Malcolm.)WordPress

Aaron Wrixon, @aaronwrixon, says “I’m a fan of WP-SpamFree for catching and killing spam comments.”

Melanie Baker, @melle, and Stephen Davies, @stedavies, make sure I don’t forget about Akismet. “I would have probably stopped blogging without it. Almost quarter of a million spam comments stopped.”

Daniele Rossi, @danielerossi, endorses PodPress and cforms

David Jones, @doctorjones, thinks “WPtouch and WordTube are great.”

Greg Godden, greggodden tells me that “Another good one is SimplePie and the SimplePie Core, used for handling RSS feeds.” O.K. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t get this one. Can anyone who is using SimplePie explain it to me it language a non-coder can understand?

@TanMcG from Praized asked me to check out the Praized plug-ins. And heck, they’re a great Montreal-based start-up who will be at WordCamp Toronto. So, I’m not embarrassed to help them promote their plug-ins with a plug.

John Biehler, @retrocactus, says “I just spoke at WordCamp Vancouver about FAlbum (randombyte.net)….it’s not super common so many may not have heard about it.”

Jordan Behan, jordanbehan sends me to look at, among others, flickrRSS and WP-Polls.

Finally, Brian Longest, @longest, pointed me to a post he’d written earlier this year identifying his top 10 WordPress plug-ins.

What do you think?

If you have a WordPress blog, please tell me which plug-ins you use and which you rate most highly. Are there other plug-ins that you find indispensable? What are your favourites? I’ll do another post following the presentation detailing the plug-ins I included and linking to the bloggers who suggested them.

Thank you for helping me with the research for this presentation.

One last thing:

As I look back at this post and the wealth of pointers people provided to me via Twitter, I realize that how lucky I am to have built up a community on Twitter of other people who share my interest. Mark Evans is SO right when he calls this “Twitter’s killer app.”

The best Websites built on WordPress?

WordCamp Toronto 2008I’ll be speaking at WordCamp Toronto on October 4. The theme of my session is “Blogging as a Cornerstone of Social Media.” Blogs are far from a spent force. In fact, blogging is being incorporated into an increasing number of Websites. And often we may not recognize that this has been done.

WordPress is being used as a platform and content management system for Websites that have embraced the concepts of conversation and interaction with community.

WordPressI’d like to include examples in my presentation of the smart Websites that are built on WordPress.

On Sunday, I asked on Twitter for examples of the best use of WordPress as a publishing platform. I received several responses.

  • Dave Cree, @clearpath_SEO, pointed me to the site for recently launched Propel Magazine, which is built on WordPress using the revolution theme. If he hadn’t told me it was built on WordPress, I would not have recognized it as such. A slick, clean, functional design.
  • Rob Cottingham, @robcottingham, said that the DreamHost Status site is built on WordPress. It’s not a very pretty site, but it’s a slamdunk use of the technology to stream info to a community of users and enable people to comment back.
  • Ryan Anderson, @ryananderson, sent me to look at the Ottawa Fringe Festival Website, which is built on WordPress. (And then later he told me it was built by 76design, my design shop. I didn`t know that. I guess I should pay closer attention to what we are working on.)
  • Ferg Devins, @molsonferg, told me that the Molson in the Community blog is built on WordPress. I like the way they incorporate a Vlog into their conversation.
  • And David Jones, @doctorjones, told me that Hill and Knowlton is using WordPress for social media newsrooms and releases. He didn’t have a live example to point me to on Sunday, but said he might have something live by the end of the week.

Now, I’d like to ask the same question of the people who visit Pro PR.

So, if you are reading this post, please tell me which Websites built on WordPress that have most impressed you.

I’ll do another post following the presentation detailing the examples I use and identifying/linking to the people who suggested them.

Thank you for helping me with the research for this presentation.

WordCamp is coming to Toronto

If you’re a blogger, if you’re interested in a day of good discussion about social media, or if you want to know more about the best blogging platform around, you’ll want to attend WordCamp Toronto on October 4 and 5.

WordCampToronto

WordCamp brings together bloggers, designers, developers, podcasters and all kinds of social media enthusiasts to learn, share, talk and explore the potential of social media and the WordPress publishing platform.

WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has been booked to speak at the conference. Matt has said, “WordCamps are my favorite events to go to because there’s something about the core WordPress community that attracts smart folks with good philosophies that are fun to hang out with.”

Other speakers already confirmed include Brendan Sera-Shriar, Mike Ellis, David Peralty and Michael O’Connor Clarke (Yes, that Michael OCC, my co-worker at Thornley Fallis.)

The preliminary list of session topics includes:

  • WordPress Talk
  • Business Blogging
  • Blogging for Boomers
  • Podcasting
  • 30 Tips to Make Your Blog Better
  • Social Media for Dummies
  • Running Your Blog Like a Pro
  • Vidcasting
  • Entertainment Blogging: A Panel Discussion

Centennial College Student CentreThe organizing group for WordCamp Toronto is being led by Mathieu Yuill and Melissa Feeney. The even is being hosted at the Centennial College Student Association‘s Student Centre at Centennial’s Progress Campus. (Disclosure: the CCSA is a client of 76design.)

Thornley Fallis and 76design have settled on WordPress as the best all round publishing platform available today. And because we’ve benefitted from the work others put into developing it, we’ve tried to give back by developing two free plug-ins, FriendsRoll and TopLinks, that we hope bloggers will use to revitalize their blogrolls.

I’m keen to attend WordCamp Toronto. Not only because the blog posts and Twitter stream from other WordCamps have suggested to me that I’ll be able to mix with a particularly smart group of participants, but also because I’m hoping we can get some feedback on FriendsRoll and TopLinks from this social media savvy crowd.

If you want to attend, WordCamp Toronto, you can register at Eventbrite. I hope I’ll see you there.