5 Classic WordPress Video Presentations That Defined the Platform

Like many other high-profile open source projects, WordPress has long enjoyed a thriving presentational culture, usually at WordCamps and meetups, where knowledge is freely shared in group settings and often filmed and shared online.

Two of the main driving factors in creating this culture over the years have been worldwide WordCamps, which I already mentioned, and the setting up of WordCampTV to display the results. The range of talks now freely available for anyone to watch is an incredible resource for WordPress users of all experience levels.

In this article we’ve picked five classic presentations for you to enjoy that helped shape the platform. It’s a great starting point from which to continue your exploration of the wider world of WordPress presentations.

Let’s start with some brief information on WordPress presentations in general and WordCamps in particular.

Some Background on WordPress Presentations

The main venue for WordPress presentations is WordCamp conferences: locally organized WordPress-centric meetups that take place worldwide.

These have contributed enormously to the WordPress project since the inaugural 2006 WordCamp in San Francisco, with over 470 WordCamps having taken place in over 190 countries to date.

A highlight of many WordCamps over the years has been Matt Mullenweg’s annual State of the Word address.

There is, of course, also a lively scene of WordPress user groups running more informal meetups worldwide throughout the year, and these will also usually have presentations at their core.

We encourage you to take full advantage of the range of incredible presentations online, and also make the extra effort to find a WordCamp or meetup near you to start becoming an active member of the community.

Let’s move on to our five standout selections.

1. Matt Cutts’ 2007 Whitehat SEO Tips for Bloggers

We’ve picked out one of Matt Cutts’ early WordCamp presentations for a couple of different reasons.

Firstly, it’s one of the relatively few high-profile talks from the early days of the platform captured on video. Though virtually every current WordCamp talk is now available online, initial presentations weren’t quite as diligently recorded.

Secondly, as Google’s SEO representative, Matt’s appearance at WordCamp gave the nascent platform some crucial early encouragement from a true online heavyweight, and went a long way towards cementing WordPress’ reputation as an SEO-friendly solution.

SEO presentations have been a constant feature of WordCamps over the years as that landscape has evolved. Recent presentations from Jessica Rose, Jen Jamar and Jenny Munn show the transition from Matt’s original points to the world of WordPress SEO in 2015.

2. State of the Word 2010

By their nature, State of the Word addresses tend to be fairly momentous occasions, but the 2010 edition was a doozy and can truly be said to have represented a landmark shift for the platform.

First of all there was the announcement of WordPress 3.0 “Thelonius”, a long-awaited major version release.

The platform had made significant strides throughout the previous version cycle, but many of these releases were accompanied by teething troubles – whether in the form of design controversies or the series of security problems that dogged 2008 and 2009.

There was a real sense of 3.0 marking a significant step forward for the software and being a solid platform on which to build for the future.

The merger of WordPress MU into core under the guise of Multisite opened up brand new vistas for site owners and developers in terms of the range of power and functionality at their disposal. It really set the stage for WordPress to dramatically expand its market share in years to come.

Theming received a major reboot with new APIs allowing for the easy creation of custom headers and backgrounds along with Twenty Ten – the first update to the default theme since Kubrick.

Perhaps most importantly of all, this presentation also saw the confirmation of the establishment of the WordPress Foundation – a landmark event for the platform and the open source project as a whole. This finally put WordPress’ future on a defined and sustainable long-term legal footing.

One final notable point raised in the presentation were initial indications as to the burgeoning size of the WordPress economy.

Mullenweg made several references throughout the talk to huge growth in that sector that would later be officially confirmed in 2011’s WordPress Developer survey.

3. 2014 Matt Mullenweg Q&A with Om Malik

Strictly speaking, this 2014 talk was a Q&A rather than a presentation, but it was still a fascinating one for the platform in several key respects.

Firstly, it’s a wonderful example of the extra level of quality that WordCamp Europe started to bring to the table in what was then only its second year.

Om Malik, one of America’s leading technology writers, and Mullenweg were more than happy to have their landmark discussion before an appreciative European audience in Bulgaria, rather than saving it for a more traditional West Coast setting.

The interview as a whole could be taken as excellent evidence for the renewed leadership focus – on both the WordPress.com and WordPress.org side – that seem to have resulted from Mullenweg taking up the reins as Automattic CEO early in 2014.

Throughout the discussion, mobile emerges as a theme that cannot be ignored, with Mullenweg making it clear that the future of the platform will depend largely on how it can handle the worldwide shift from desktop to devices.

Another interesting thread running throughout the session is the emergence of WordPress as a fully-fledged, global, content publishing platform – a natural outgrowth from its blogging roots and a possible indication of developments to come further down the line.

4. 2014 Andrew Nacin: The Future of WordPress is Global

As a WordPress lead developer, pretty much any presentation by Andrew Nacin is going to be worth more than worth a few minutes of your time. In fact, you can find a list of them at WordPress.tv for your viewing pleasure.

We’ve highlighted this particular talk for the emphasis it puts on an aspect of the platform that is often overlooked by native English speakers: internationalization.

As Nacin points out, two-thirds of WordPress sites worldwide at the time were still in English. A huge market segment theoretically lies there for the taking, if WordPress can get this aspect of its development right.

As he goes through the steps the platform has taken to date in this regard – and where it’s heading – it’s clear that the eyes of the core team are very much on this particular prize.

5. 2015 London WordCamp Q&A with Core Developers

The globally distributed nature of the WordPress core team means that it’s a rare day you see three contributors of the same calibre as John Blackbourn, Helen Hou-Sandí and Mark Jaquith sharing a stage. With each of them having successfully led a release of the platform, it’s worth paying attention to their thoughts for the future when pressed by an informed audience of WordPress developers.

The standout point from the session was the obvious core developer enthusiasm for the potentially revolutionary impact of the REST API. It’s a subject we’ve devoted time to here already on WPMU DEV and with good reason – WordPress stands on the edge of a paradigm shift in its use that could change the way the software is used forever. It’s gratifying to see that the people in direct charge of leading the project into the future are equally excited about developments in this regard.

One interesting point raised by Helen Hou-Sandí that deserves particular mention is her proposal of a sensible roadmap for Core CSS in WordPress. This one is still flying slightly under the radar as far as we can tell, but there is an army of theme developers and users out there, ready and eager for news of any improvements to this crucial and long-neglected area of WordPress.

The steady stream of informed audience questions on display throughout the session are an excellent reflection of the sort of enthusiasm and expertise that WordCamp attendees worldwide have come to appreciate and expect.

WordCamp London 2015 also threw up a number of excellent individual presentations, including Jack Lennox’s talk on the REST API and Davide Casali’s presentation on Design with Personas.

Conclusion

WordPress is blessed with a global base of passionate, expert users operating across a stunning variety of commercial and non-commercial fields.

Their willingness to share knowledge with other users in the form of presentations at WordCamp and elsewhere make these presentation a key learning resource for anybody using the platform, and they could literally transform your professional life.

We’ve gone for presentations that we felt had a generally broad and transformative impact on the platform as an entry point, but we are aware that there are literally hundreds of world-class WordPress presentations out there.

Are there any individual presentations or speakers you’d like to draw attention, or topics you feel deserve more coverage in this format? Get in touch via the comments below and let us know your thoughts.