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From our podcast:

Summertime News Roundup

Duration: 17:07

In higher ed, summer means fewer students, less traffic, and shorter lines at the best lunch places near campus. For those of us who use WordPress in higher ed, it also means major WordPress news and the final push to prepare for the in-person WPCampus event!

In this episode, WPCampus members Jen McFarland and Brian DeConinck chat informally about some of the news to come out of WordCamp Europe, big happenings in the WordPress world, and reasons to get excited about WPCampus 2019. Grab some lemonade, sit back, and relax… and then go start working on your slides for WPCampus 2019, we’re less than a month away!

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Episode Audio

Episode Transcript

Brian: Are we recording?

Jen: Well it says it's recording.

Brian: Welcome to the WPCampus Podcast. A podcast for those who use WordPress in higher education. My name is Brian DeConinck, and I'm joined by Jen McFarland.

Jen: [crosstalk] podcast recording expert.

Brian: Jen says she's not feeling funny today, so she didn't sing any theme music for us.

Jen: Well also I have a new mic. It's really fancy. I don't want you guys to actually be able to hear the quality of my voice. So I'm going to hold off on the singing for a little while.

Jen: We are at some point going to try to really reach epic professionalism standards by buying or using some free, with-attribution music to start these sessions off. That's going to happen.

Brian: So if you are a longtime listener, of which there might be one, possibly two of you.

Jen: Our moms.

Brian: You know that the last couple of episodes have been a little shorter, a little looser. And that's a deliberate choice on our part.

Brian: This episode is going to be even less structured, because we don't have a guest and we didn't really decide what we're going to talk about.

Jen: Yeah, you guys are along for a ride.

Brian: So this is sort of a pre-conference summertime fun-time catch up on everything happening in the WordPress world, slash fill time until two weeks from now when we actually have a guest.

Jen: Yeah. If you guys aren't listening to this at the pool, you should be, because this is summertime fun-time.

Brian: It is summertime fun-time. Is today the first day of summer, this day that we're recording it? Something like that?

Jen: I thought it was like the 22nd.

Brian: Let's just pretend it's whatever day [crosstalk].

Jen: Yeah, whatever day you're listening to it today is summer.

Brian: So what's new in the your life, slash WordPress world, Jen?

Jen: Probably the big news this week, at least to start, is it was WordCamp EU last week, weekend. So we got to hear from our intrepid spirit animal Matt Mullenweg about the future course of WordPress.

Jen: I did not actually watch his speech. We usually do that. But I confess, I lost track of time. I forgot that it was EU already. And so then all of a sudden I get my alerts and my updates and my newsletters and I'm like, "Oh dang, look at Matt's talking," and I missed it.

Brian: Yeah, I was busy moving across the country. But I did go back and read all of David Bisset's Tweets during [crosstalk].

Jen: Okay well that's like the same thing, right?

Brian: Yeah it's basically the same thing as watching it live. So yeah, so ...

Jen: I did the WPTavern recaps, so that's the same thing, right?

Brian: Yeah. So the big news to come out of that is not really anything that's big newsy. There were some demos of phase two of Gutenbergy-type things. The navigation block, navigation menu block. But there wasn't like a firm timetable. Which I guess ...

Jen: Yeah. I was definitely looking for more information on Gutenberg phase two timeline. Because we'd like to use some of that stuff, or start to be thinking about using it.

Jen: And my takeaway was, what I think Matt said towards the end, "This is a process. It's going to be 10 years in the making." Which did not make me feel good about a release in the next couple of months, let's say.

Brian: Or I guess there will be releases, but not really feeling like those releases are going to be ... Not really knowing what's going to be in them. Yeah.

Jen: Yeah, or not feeling like they're going to be pulled into Core for a little while yet.

Brian: Right, right. But that's fun. Some cool stuff. Also fun is that there was question about accessibility during the Q&A period. And we got a WPCampus accessibility audit shout-out.

Jen: Woo!

Brian: So now the whole world knows about us. So if you're listening to this podcast because of that shout-out, please register for the in-person even in Portland. July 25th through something?

Jen: Yeah, the 25th to the 27th. Great conversion there, Brian. I'm really impressed with your ... We should work on some marketing, some sly marketing moves [crosstalk] those.

Brian: Yeah. You know, you can learn more at

Jen: That's good stuff. Okay, any other takeaways from ... Oh, I thought it was interesting that, what did they say? 21 of the 24 current Democrat candidates for President are using WordPress for their election sites. So yay politics?

Brian: I guess.

Jen: The only big news I've heard in politics in a while.

Brian: I guess now we need to figure out who those other three are, and ...

Jen: [crosstalk].

Brian: ... either vote for them or not vote ... I don't know what action [inaudible].

Jen: I need an action out of here. Go and see what they're using?

Brian: Run their websites through WAVE and see if they're accessible.

Jen: Yeah, we should do that for all 24 and see what kind of damage that is.

Brian: That's actually, I might do that.

Jen: Now Brian has something to do for the weekend. Great. Okay.

Brian: So sort of related to our topic a few weeks ago about diversity and inclusion, but there was the WordCamp Europe after-party event that people had feelings about. I don't know if you saw all that on Twitter or not, and [inaudible].

Jen: No, I missed that. Please.

Brian: There was an after-party. So during the after-party, there were performers, there were sort of cover bands. They were covering different artists and they were sort of performing as those artists. And dressed up as them and things like that.

Brian: And apparently there was a ...

Jen: Oh no.

Brian: Apparently there was a performer who was a woman who also started taking clothes off. And that was unexpected. And the reaction of some men in the crowd was not what you would call inclusive. So conferences are hard.

Jen: Yeah, I guess. I didn't hear about any drama.

Brian: Yeah, so the WordCamp Europe people, to their credit, put out an apology about that. But I mean, I think ...

Jen: Were they apologizing for the band or the people?

Brian: I think they were apologizing for the performance not being what they expected it to be, and the performance putting people in an uncomfortable place.

Jen: Okay.

Brian: But yeah, also there are a lot of people in the WordPress who should feel bad about, you know ...

Jen: Well I mean, to be fair, there's a lot of communities that have a lot of work to do. Ours included, so.

Brian: That's right. And we're trying to do that. And you should listen to two episodes ago to learn all about that. And attend WPCampus 2019 in Portland, Oregon from July 25th to 27th to ...

Jen: You're really, you're doing a bang-up job. Yes, where we will be talking about how we are continuing our strategies of diversity inclusion, including adding some mentorship opportunities.

Jen: And if you come to the conference, we're going to work what I'm calling a buddy system. So you can have a friend at the conference and hopefully they will help you feel comfortable and meet other people and do some networking while you're there. And you know, you can sort of take that relationship back home with you. So hey, we're just throwing all kinds of hits in here.

Brian: I'm guessing if you're looking for a buddy, you should try to find a buddy who's not somebody you already work with. That's the idea.

Jen: Yeah, I mean you can't be my buddy, Brian.

Brian: So I'm going to have to like talk to people and make friends?

Jen: Yeah, you know, that's actually not my strong suit either. So yeah, I sympathize with all of the self-labeled introverts out there. Even though I'm loud on this microphone in a lonely office, it's not really my jam to go out there and talk to everybody.

Jen: So yeah, hopefully the buddy system will be something that can sort of help people, and serve as kind of a gateway to meeting others that they wouldn't otherwise meet, and do some networking. And again, take some of those relationships home with them, so they have people they can talk to on Slack, so yeah.

Jen: I think that should be a conversation we have at some point, by the way, in a future podcast, is how we use Slack, and how ... Because it's such an important part of our community. It's like where we are 362 days of the year or whatever.

Brian: Right.

Jen: So yeah.

Brian: No, I think that's true. And actually, so in Matt Mullenweg's talk at WordCamp Europe. And again, I'm basing this solely on Dave Bisset's Tweets. I think he said something about Slack being sort of a game-changer for community involvement in the WordPress project as well.

Brian: And I think, I mean you definitely see that with WPCampus' Slack too that's empowered us to have these long-running, ongoing conversations about anything and everything.

Jen: Yeah, I've heard some people trash talking Slack with their DPO, Direct Public Offering from last week or whatever. And some people were like, "All I ever is put silly emojis on there." And I'm like, "Well okay, you're not using Slack. But for the people who are using Slack, this is a really helpful tool."

Jen: So yeah, maybe someday we'll put out a session about that. By the way, we're not getting paid by Slack. We should say that about a lot of things that we're talking about [crosstalk].

Brian: Yeah, and if the WPCampus community someday move to, I don't know, Google Meet, Hangout thing, whatever that is. The Google anti-Slack.

Jen: Google won't be paying us either.

Brian: No.

Jen: I was going to throw out there the, and this is a little bit old at this point, but Yoast and Google folks are working to add XML sitemaps to WordPress Core. Did you hear about that?

Brian: I did. And that's, I think ... I mean I think in higher ed world, we have a lot of advantages with our .edu domains when it comes to SEO. But I mean, so you and I, we work for NC State University, and there's only one NC State University. But there are lots of, something College. There's some very common names for colleges that have instances in multiple states and multiple countries.

Brian: And I feel like any little bit of SEO help that you can get there, I mean that can be a game changer for your small liberal arts college or something like that. So I think seeing that sort of thing move into Core would be a big deal.

Jen: It's not something that helps us specifically, but yeah, I think it's a good best practice. And it's arguably fairly easy to do. So I think it would be a really nice thing to release.

Jen: I certainly see it rolling it up into, what did they add with the last version? The Site Health tools. Which I'm really not sure how I feel about Site Health either.

Jen: Because there is some stuff in there that's pretty ... It varies, depending on your environment. We get dinged for some stuff that is, I think, very unfair.

Brian: Well I think, I mean, there are best practices and then there are things that you can reasonably accommodate with your hosting infrastructure.

Jen: Right, and because we have our own custom sort of hosting infrastructure, if we have users who make their way to Site Health and see that, and it's going to be kind of misleading in terms of how our environment's built.

Jen: Yeah, so there's some stuff I guess I feel like, the XML stuff I certainly like better than some of the Site Health work. I'm glad to see them continuing to try to improve what WordPress Core offers. But I do also worry about things getting a little heavy. Like do I need all of this in WordPress Core? Is anybody asking my opinion? No.

Brian: This has been our new segment, Visceral Reactions to New WordPress Features with Jen.

Jen: Right, right. Well it's not like I'm enraged about it. I'm just, hey, let's talk about it a little bit.

Brian: So what else is happening in WordPress world?

Jen: I did want to say that Post Status. So I do not subscribe to Post Status. So again, this is not an endorsement of anything. Nobody needs to go out and buy anything.

Jen: But if you're not aware, Post Status, well it looks to be a pretty cool site that you can subscribe to to get lots of information about the WordPress community at large.

Jen: And they have an event. Typically this is limited to only their members. But it's going to be their publish online, streaming event is going to be available to anyone who wants to go. This is July 8th and 9th. So like a week and a half or so.

Jen: So lots of good people in there, including our very own Rachel Cherry. So there's, I don't know if I'm going to have time to tune in for it, but it definitely looks interesting. And I always like some access to free insights, so.

Jen: But if you're thinking about going to a conference, you should really consider WPCampus 2019 in Portland, Oregon, July 25th to the 27th. So is there anything else we should say about the conference before we wrap things up?

Brian: Do we have ... This is something we should have talked about off mic. Do we know what our social events are? Do you want to start talking [crosstalk]?

Jen: I mean, tentatively we know what our social events are. We will be at a local bar, slash restaurant the first night. The second night it looks like we're going to be at Oak Park, which is an amusement park not too far away from our venue at Lewis & Clark College. So you can come out and ride the rides and play [crosstalk].

Brian: Play mini-golf.

Jen: Yeah mini-golf, and they have roller skating. So I think that's going to be a pretty nice evening. We're still kind of nailing down what we're going to do on the Saturday night.

Jen: So none of this is up on the website yet, but I would tune in at some point in the next week or so, and hopefully we'll have some updates on this.

Brian: This is just the extra value you get from listening to the WPCampus Podcast, is a sneak peek.

Jen: That's right.

Brian: Sneak peek of things that are not public data yet.

Jen: Because everybody was like super anxious to find out. Come back in two weeks, maybe I'll give you a list of the beer menu.

Jen: Actually, you should tune in in two weeks because we will be talking to one of our WPCampus sponsors, Pantheon will be on with me. And Brian will be on vacation.

Brian: I will.

Jen: [crosstalk] that he is. So I will also say that if you are tuning in and you have specific questions for Pantheon or if there's anything else that you want ask of us, please feel free to either DM us on Slack, NCSUMarit and, Brian, what are you on Slack?

Brian: BrianDeConinck, all one word.

Jen: Brian DeConinck. And then you can also hit us up on Twitter. Still NCSUMarit on Twitter. And I think Brian's still BrianDeConinck.

Brian: Yes, @BrianDeConinck.

Jen: All you have to do is spell his name right and you have instant access.

Brian: All Brian all the time, if you know where that second silent N goes.

Jen: Yeah, you should change your Twitter name to all Brian all the time.

Brian: I don't think I'm going to do that. The only other thing I'll add about the conference is that we are still looking for volunteers. And volunteering is a fun thing to do.

Brian: And the more people we have volunteering, the more fun it will be. And the less it will be me and Maryann asking you, "Please do this one other thing," because we don't have anybody else to do it.

Brian: So tell all your friends and you should also volunteer. I know I'm really selling it. You'll get a special VIP gift, and our undying love and affection for putting the time and energy and care that you have into the WPCampus community.

Jen: [crosstalk] ...

Brian: So if you're interested in that ...

Jen: I'm not going to give away the VIP gift, but it is sweet. Yeah.

Brian: Yeah, it's a pretty good VIP gift. I mean, as everybody listening probably knows, WPCampus has really solid swag all around every year.

Jen: Yeah, got to pat Rachel on the back for that.

Brian: So if you want in on the solid VIP gift swag, go to and fill out the form and make me happy. Or you know, don't do it to make me happy. Do it just because, give back to the community.

Jen: I have [crosstalk] ...

Brian: I don't care, ruin your life, go ahead, do whatever you want to do.

Jen: Things make him happy. Okay. The only other thing, I completely forgot to mention. So the other big news is Flywheel and WP Engine are merging. So what were your thoughts on that one?

Brian: I don't know, I think, I mean it's sort of two big presences in the WordPress community. And I know two companies that people in the WPCampus world both have ... A lot of people have experience with both of them. I mean, I use Local by Flywheel. I know that WP Engine just came out with a dev kit.

Jen: [crosstalk] specifically engine [inaudible] so I don't know if that was the foreshadowing of events, or if that was some other, more subtle thing that just made its way to be more impactful 24 hours later. But yeah, I noticed that too.

Brian: So yeah, I mean I think, I don't know. There are a lot of big companies that are important in the WordPress ecosystem, even beyond Automattic, which I feel like everybody sort of gravitates to as the big fish in WordPress world.

Brian: It's interesting to see this kind of consolidation. And for folks in higher ed who are using the tools that they build, I'm really interested to see how they change and what comes next.

Jen: Yeah, and [inaudible] for some of the smaller companies or smaller organizations. And then yeah, I kind of expect that we're going to see a lot of local flavor, Local by Flywheel flavor in whatever the dev kit UI winds up being. Because I think they said they're working on that.

Jen: So I mean, I think it's a good partnership. Again, we're not getting paid by either company. But we do use Local.

Brian: But if any of those companies want to sponsor WPCampus 2019, I think we're still taking sponsors.

Jen: We are still taking sponsors. And actually, I'd be happy to take a sponsor for the podcast too, so.

Brian: I don't know if we have permission to do that. But if you want to just send cash to me and Jen personally, I think ...

Jen: Again, DMing us would be a good way to start.

Jen: Well that's all the stuff I have to recap today. I'm going to give the conference URL one more time:

Brian: As of today-ish, plus or minus a day or two, when we're recording, we are one month away from the conference.

Jen: That's right. That's the big news. Everybody panic. I mean us, just us, we panic. You guys, you're cool. Go ahead and sign up.

Brian: Well if you're a speaker, maybe start working on your slides or something. You know.

Jen: Yes. And actually I will mention, I think registration is going to get shut at least two to three weeks before the conference. So I think you have another week or so to sign up. So if you are interested, please, the schedule is up. Go and register and get yourself signed up for some of the excellent workshops we have.

Jen: Morten Rand-Henrikson is going to be there talking about WP Rig. I mean, the other workshops are excellent too. There's an accessibility workshop and a multi-site workshop. So it's all good stuff.

Brian: Really solid workshop presenters. The multi-site with Jeremy Felt and the accessibility from [inaudible]. I think all of it's going to be really great. And yeah.

Jen: So go check that out, and we hope that we'll see you in Portland, Oregon in a month.