A Day at WordCamp 2007

Last year, for the first time, the folks at WordPress decided to host the first WordCamp, a one day, all day seminar on WordPress. I attended last year and learned a lot, especially because I had only been blogging on WordPress for three months at the time.

I signed up for WordCamp again this year, but this years’ event was a two day event, and despite my best efforts I was only able to attend on Sunday.

I'm going to WordCamp 

Since I’m not a Tech Geek, some of the presentations were a bit over my head. Nonetheless, I had a great time and learned a lot. What follows is a summary of what I learned from the first three presentations at WordCamp 2007 on Sunday.

HyperDB and High Performance WordPress

The morning began with a presentation by Barry Abrahamson and Matt Mullenweg on HyperDB and High Performance WordPress.

The presentation described ways to serve as many users as possible with a reasonable amount of resources. Without going into details, the basic configuration of WordPress can serve 8 requests per second and 691,200 page views per day. This default configuration is good enough for most WordPress installations.

Using different caches, the performance can be improved as much as 25-fold.

WordPress.com hosts over 1.2 million blogs and serves over 10 million pageviews per day.

Blogs on the New York Times

Jeremy Zilar discussed his responsibilities managing blogs at the New York Times. The New York Times hosts over 100 blogs, although there are currently 30-40 active blogs, and primarily uses one blog template. All blogs run off of a single install of WordPress, and together enjoy 13 million pageviews per month.

Jeremy showed the City Room blog at the New York Times and mentioned that in print media, writers essentially have a one-way communication with the reader. Blogs allow the writer to engage the readers and most readers have something to say. Blogs generate controversy and drama and many readers will comment in extreme situations and when they feel safe.

Designing Massively Multiplayer Social Systems

Rashmi Sinha presented a talk on Designing Massively Multiplayer Social Systems and discussed a project she is working on called SlideShare. She mentioned that second generation social networks allow individuals to link to each other based on common interests.

Services such as LinkedIn allow people to connect with each other by sending invitations to link together, providing a somewhat artificial environment. Object-based social networks provide a different way to connect.

With these object-based networks, people share objects and view the objects others share. Content that someone finds interesting (such as a video on YouTube) is passed on to others. Rashmi referred to this as viral sharing, since the sharing of these objects spreads throughout the network.

Other social networks include tag-based social sharing such as del.icio.us and social news creation by rating news stories such as digg.

SlideShare offers users to share presentations. People share lesson plans, cartoons, paintings, humor, activism, mother’s day cards, and talk slides, among others.

Rashmi mentioned that the positions of early bloggers who became popular are hard to dislodge. When someone’s blog is popular, its popularity helps it become even more popular. The rich get richer.

When starting out, a blog’s popularity is more important than quality. People who are well-known tend to get mobs following them when they start a blog.

One observation Rashmi shared was that on social networks such as SlideShare where the actions of users can be tracked, the host can determine which objects are most popular by tag, comment, views, embed, download, and email. Of course, when a given object is listed at the top of one of these categories, such as the most viewed, others tend to also view that content. Thus, the most viewed are viewed even more.

Tomorrow: More from WordCamp 2007.

Copyright © 2007 Stephen J. Danko

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