WordCamp Europe Experience From An Indian Perspective

WordCamp is a culmination of monthly WordPress meetups into an annual event held across many cities in the world. WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe are special events that bring WordPress communities from various regions to one city to celebrate the spirit of WordPress.

WordCamp Europe 2016 held this time in Vienna was the largest WordCamp ever held with 1900+ attendees from more than 30+ countries. It moved from Seville to Vienna this year and it’s going to be held in Paris next year.

We haven’t had a WordCamp Bangalore yet, but I attended WordCamp Mumbai earlier this year. So I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a WordCamp abroad.

As a first time attendee at an event like this, I had a few apprehensions and a tad anxious too.

Given that Vienna was a long flight from Bangalore, I decided to use the opportunity to visit family in neighbouring Switzerland and then get to Vienna a few days before the event.

Basel train station
Basel SBB – Train station

Took the chance to visit Art Basel as well when I was there https://goo.gl/photos/VAVkjMDRPiykeQFq6

View of Zurich from Uetilberg, the highest point.

While Switzerland was gloomy and sunny intermittently, Vienna was just hot. I met up with Akshat who also traveled from Bangalore at our Wombats hostel near Naschmarkt on 21st June.

The beautiful open space outside the venue
View from the hostel room window

He’s a veteran of sorts with attending these events and having already built good relationships within the community, I heeded his advice and got there early. And thanks to him, I made some new friends.

We walked around Stepehenplatz the first evening planning and setting up meetings with people. This was my 2nd visit to Vienna and so it wasn’t very difficult trying to navigate the city.

Picking up a local sim card with data for €15 was well worth it. Made it very easy for us to communicate and coordinate with others we were planning to meet.

Naschmarkt

Meeting people from so many different nationalities with unique backgrounds and outlook towards life was an enriching experience. It reminded me of the diversity of my own country. It warrants a separate post on the people I met and what I learned from them.

Leopold Museum was a great venue to interact with people.

Numerous conversations I had involved talking about culture, history and languages. Many were surprised to hear that we have  100+ languages in India and many more dialects.

I always take pleasure in explaining the subtleties and nuances of India. What you is generally get to read is an oversimplified and reductionist view. So, I hope every person I spoke to walked away feeling as enriched as I did, learning about another country and its people.

Tribe meetups and unconference was a great idea

The diversity of the attendees also meant you got to observe the different accents, cultural influences, language and interesting questions about India, although none as ignorant as these. 

There were a few that got asked often though. When I spoke about the WordPress agency and Design Studio I run, I was asked where I got all our clients from. I’m wondering if that was a polite way of asking “are you an outsourcing agency?” ? Or am I reading too much between the lines?

Many were surprised to know we worked mostly with local businesses and startups in Bangalore and how we transformed from a product to a WordPress agency.

Indian agencies really do have a bad reputation of spamming people and in some cases doing sub standard work. However, branding all Indian companies with the same brush would be a foolish thing to do. The image of an Indian company doing outsourcing work for dirt cheap seemed to be common.

So it was interesting to see some reactions when they heard our story and how we work. “Your English is very good”… I heard that a couple of times too. ?

One of the things I was curious about before coming was what language would people be most comfortable with. And from what I noticed, most folks had a good grasp of English and it seemed to be the primary language of choice.

This is intriguing because in India, with all our different languages, you notice something similar. At conferences, you will generally notice most talking in English, but observe more intently and you will hear Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and other regional languages being spoken among small groups.

I never got to ask this question, but I’m wondering what language is used in local WordPress meetups across different European countries.

India is like Europe in many ways and to me the diversity at this event symbolized what WordPress is all about. It was also great to see the numerous steps the organizers had taken to make this an inclusive event.

Remote work is an interesting trend I see more and more across companies. The big agencies at WCEU seemed to have embraced it. I haven’t seen much of this in India yet, but I encourage it within our company. I had an interesting chat with Tom Wilmots from Human Made about this. Another topic that deserves a separate blog post.

In the end, I must say that the volunteers and organizers of this event did a fabulous job.So, thank you for making my long trip a worthwhile one. It was a great learning experience.

12 Replies to “WordCamp Europe Experience From An Indian Perspective”

  1. I never got to ask this question, but I’m wondering what language is used in local WordPress meetups across different European countries.

    The country’s language in most places, though there are exceptions. The Vienna WordPress meetup, for instance, is held in English as far as I know. In other larger cities, like Berlin, you may see WordPress meetup events in English, too. The rest of Germany, as well as France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy generally are more locally focussed in terms of languages at meetups. Not sure about smaller countries like Netherlands and Belgium, nor Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.

    Thanks for the lovely report, particularly the fresh perspective on web agencies in India!

    1. Hi Caspar, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      That’s interesting to know. In India, the internet is predominantly catered towards the English-speaking population today, but over the next 10 years, we’re going to have millions of first-time internet users who are more comfortable in their native languages. Localization will play an important role.

  2. Very nice to know your perspective Sandeep! nice pictures and crisp observations. Am amused to know that Indian WordPress Agencies have a bad reputation abroad, did not know that at all. Is it from a theme/plugin development perspective or overall? Would love to know more!

    1. Thanks, Gorakh! From what I could gather, it was from an outsourcing standpoint. There are some fantastic services and product companies in India, no doubt, but it was interesting to hear that perspective from outside. I think the intense competition in India to survive and get new business drives some folks to adopt unethical and spammy tactics. Ends up hurting the whole ecosystem.

      1. True. Perhaps this “ends up hurting the whole ecosystem” philosophy is extendable to a lot of Indian industries. Short term gains over Long term wins approach has become a proud priority. Ever growing insecurities and competition, could be the first thing that comes to mind, but am sure there are reasons beyond this.

        I wish we, Indian WP developers can change this; irrespective of the reason(s).

        1. Oh yeah, and most of us have seen it. I think it’s due to intense competition and fighting for survival that drives this behavior.

          WordPress community can certainly set an example I hope.

  3. Great post that summed up nicely WordCamp Europe 2016, with really nice photos! What I definitely like the most about WC’s is the networking. Meeting all those great people from around Europe and the world. And iIt was great to meet you, Sandeep!

    1. Sorry, just noticed your comment. 🙂 Thanks, Anke. It was great meeting you too! The networking part was fantastic!

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