Why I Go to Developer Tracks at WordCamps

I’m just now getting comfortable with calling myself a “WordPress Developer” yet I’ve been going to the developer-oriented sessions at WordCamps since day one. Did I feel insignificant and inadequate? Sure. And sometimes I still do. Well, make that “sometimes” “daily” and you’ll be living in my world. So why subject myself to such a “negative” experience.

To learn.

There’s a cliche about dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I guess that’s been my approach to WordCamp sessions. The job I want is as a WordPress developer. I’ve taken course after course, read book after book, and worked on building my skills. But with computer programming there’s so much to know that you can’t possibly know it all, and sometimes I don’t even know what I don’t know. That’s why I choose developer sessions. I may not always know what they’re talking about, but I might pick up a new term that I can add to the very long list of things I don’t know.

Yet.

Eventually after hearing things during presentations, and learning things on my own, the concepts start to gel and begin to make sense. I don’t claim to understand it all, but I slowly begin to understand some. Immersion is perhaps the best  way to learn any foreign language or culture and I guess that’s what I’ve done with WordPress. I still go to the blogging and marketing sessions, and I love the design sessions too. But I’ll default to the developer track and only stray from that when compelled.

And I think it’s working.

A recent session at WordCamp Milwaukee might illustrate how this eventually comes full circle. The JSON REST API is an example of a term I’d heard bandied about for quite a while. Sitting in on developer sessions, and conversations, it came up frequently. I’d no real idea what it meant, and never seemed to find the time or the right resource to fully explore it. But the session by Ryan McCue and Rachel Baker gave a great breakdown and explanation and update on its progress. I’m not going to explain it here, but suffice it to say I feel like I have enough of a grasp of it to know whether or not it could be useful in a given situation. And if it is, that’s when I’d dig in and dive deeper on it. I guess one thing I learned is that, for where I’m at, I don’t have to learn it right now.

I once made the comment that I’m not self-taught, I’m community taught. This is what I meant. For me, the self-teaching only goes so far. Most learning resources, out of necessity, only focus on one small, manageable skill. I’ve found that WordCamps and talking with other WordPress professionals have been the best way for me to get a bigger picture of what I know, what I don’t know, and what I don’t know I don’t know. And the best way to make me feel both confident and completely insecure at the same time.

I hear that’s a trait of a developer.

One Reply to “Why I Go to Developer Tracks at WordCamps”

  1. Thanks for this post Julie. It’s refreshing to read such an honest post! I’ll be attending my first Wordcamp this year in San Francisco. It’s reassuring to know that putting yourself in the developer track, although uncomfortable, has benefited your learning. That’s my plan too.

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