Automattic has a beautiful lounge at Hawthorne, but with its 300+ employees working remotely from home, how do you show what people are doing? You Skype someone in, and last night I was lucky to be that someone and talk about WordPress.com’s international reach as well as Team Global’s projects.
At Automattic, it’s traditional that people give flash talks — short talks on a subject of their choosing — at the annual all-company gathering, referred to as the Grand Meetup. The last grand meetup I went to was in San Francisco/Santa Cruz in October 2013 (skipped the October 2014 in Utah because I was expecting my daughter Kira).
I had a “speaker’s block” trying to come up with a topic. I had spoken about localization in 2012, so that was out. I really love Suzette Haden Elgin’s work on communication, but had trouble translating her ideas into a flash talk — her books are so well written, one has to read them in entirety.
In the end, the idea of “why Russian people don’t smile” came to me while I tossed and turned in a hotel bed, jetlagged at 3am. I got up, excitingly jotted down the talking points, rehearsed it once or twice, then finally went back to sleep.
I remembered the video, dug it up just now on the “Automattic TV” channel, and watched it for the first time. I mumble a bit, like in real life, but overall I was (surprisingly) pleased with what I saw. If you ever wanted to know why we Russian (post-Soviets) don’t smile, watch this to find out!
I’ve been watching the WordPress Geneva meetup group grow from strength to strength over the past 2.5+ years. The group recently reached the 300 members milestone and threw a party, with 50 people showing up to celebrate.
I created the group on meetup.com in May 2012. The first meetup was five people sitting on my terrace on a warm July evening, sipping wine and chatting about WordPress. The excitement was in the air.
The group really took off in the fall of 2012, when Manuel Schmalstieg joined us. I was very fortunate to work with Manuel, who has been the main driver behind the group’s success. Not only has he been a frequent speaker, he connected us to HEAD (Haute Ecole d’Art et Design). Thanks to this connection, the group was finally able to host meetups at modern, fully-equipped (wifi, projector) locations close to the Cornavin train station.
A great location determined the group’s success. Being close to the train station meant that our meetups were attended by people coming from as far as 125 km away. Many members and even organizers travel to meetups from neighboring towns, such as Neuchâtel, Versoix, and Nyon, and as far as Lausanne and Thonon-les-Bains, France.
After moving from Geneva to Zurich in January 2014, I handed off the group leadership to Manuel, who now runs it with three other organizers, Patricia Brun Torre, Evren Kiefer, and Helen Yau. The team has not slowed down: frequent meetups continued, group members have been traveling together to regional events like WordCamp Europe and WordCamp Paris, and there are three events scheduled for March, expanding the group coverage to cities of Lausanne and Neuchâtel.
Congratulations, WordPress Geneva group, on reaching the 300 members milestones, and let’s see what year 2015 will bring!
I liked how this Yahoo!’s guide explains internationalization basics in simple and concise manner.
Tess Warn, a long-time WordPress.com forum volunteer, passed away. She will be missed.