php|tek 2008 Wrap Up

So, my first conference of this year’s conference “season” has come to a close, and as a wrap-up post for the conference, I’d like to do something a bit different. I’m not going to discuss the sessions I attended or talk about the keynotes. Instead, I’d like to approach this post from the community aspect.

As a speaker at conferences, what often interests me most is in meeting with people, making new friends, and catching up with those I only get to see a few times a year (if that many) at conferences. I’m fortunate to have played a small role in helping to start and keeping alive the PHP Community project through the #phpc IRC channel on Freenode, and it is the members of the Community that I’m so proud to see attending conferences, taking initiative in organizing impromptu extra-curricular events at conferences, and even welcoming in new faces and new ideas. The Community ranges from end-users of PHP to core developers who take part in making decisions regarding the future of our beloved language.

At this year’s php|tek, I saw the Community come together in an exciting way, and, really, I think they provided a lot of the energy and enthusiasm that took us through the whole week, getting even the other attendees excited about the things going on at the conference and in the greater PHP community. From Christian Flickinger’s homemade buttons to Damien Seguy’s new batch of PHP and Oracle elePHPants to the #phptek channel on Freenode to tons and tons of Twitter updates to nightly trips to Shoeless Joe’s (and even the conference meme of changing the name of the bar on each new tweet,) the Community played a large part in providing the conference with a fun and exciting atmosphere, and I commend Marco, Sean, Paul, and Arbi at php|architect for allowing and even encouraging the Community to involve themselves in this way. You guys truly rock!

The Community members who attend are really the unsung heroes of the conference, in my opinion. They aren’t necessarily speakers (though some are). They aren’t the PHP thought leaders (again, some are). Their companies don’t often pay their way to conferences. They make do however they can by organizing road trips, sharing rooms, etc. so that they can attend the conferences. I think this creates even more camaraderie and a closer bond between Community members. Without their presence, the conference dynamic would be terribly lacking.

So, while I’m now back home with my family, who I dearly missed while away, I raise my glass to the PHP Community members and to the organizers of php|tek. You know who you are. You all made this conference truly memorable for me.

Thank you, and I hope to see you again soon at another conference. :-)