Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer.
Today I share my experiences meeting and getting to know some of the most active members of the open source community in East Africa during the CMS Africa Summit, held in Kampala, Uganda, earlier this month. I was joined by my colleagues Job Thomas, Konstantin Obenland, Matty Cohen, Deborah Beckett, and Gareth Allison.
CMS Africa Summit, where Automattic was a title sponsor, celebrates not only WordPress but open source software in general. The two-day event featured a jam-packed agenda of workshops, breakout sessions, keynotes, and even a hackathon, all targeting the fast-growing community of developers, business owners, startup founders, and bloggers in East Africa. Speakers from around the continent (and beyond) shared their expertise on building a business based on open source software and contributing to the community, to name just two topics.
My colleagues and I offered workshops on launching an eCommerce site and using Jetpack to expand WordPress’ functionality. Job, Konstantin, and Gareth gave a joint keynote presentation on contributing to the WordPress project, while I offered tips on marketing a business both offline and online, based on my personal experiences running a successful startup for several years.
It was the most fun conference I’ve ever attended. How many tech events have you ever been to that included a giant “cash box,” a tattoo competition, or, inexplicably, an enormous, glowing white orb dotted with the iconic W logo? My favorite part of the entire event was running into a young attendee in the women’s bathroom — she was applying what appeared to be a couple dozen of the temporary WordPress tattoos we’d brought along as swag giveaways. None of us were surprised when we learned that she ultimately won the competition. Clearly, the love for WordPress (and WordPress swag) runs deep here.
What we took away from the event, however, were the astounding energy, drive, talent, and intelligence that we witnessed during those remarkable two days, and the thirst we observed for open source software and what it can do to transform communities. Africa’s technology sector is booming, and we’re excited to have met many of its most passionate and inspiring pioneers.