WordCamp London 2018, Day Two

(Check out my thoughts on the first day of WordCamp London 2018, if you haven’t already.)

I think it’s a good thing the second day starts a bit later. Starting at 10:20am means attendees can get some exercise in the morning (or sleep in after partying). Even the volunteers get to rest a little bit (I hope, anyway!) I think it makes for a more engaged audience–there were certainly a fair amount of people at the first session I attended, and people didn’t look too worse for wear despite the previous night’s social. 😵

Talks I Attended

Applying Design To Complex Problems by Richard Copping, Melanie Machan, Sarah Semark, and Gabe Karp

How users use what you built is very different from how you designed it. –@sarahsemark

This was a panel discussion, ostensibly talking about using design to solve problems, but I don’t think it really worked. There wasn’t mention of any complex problems that needed a design-based approach to solve. The panel approach felt a bit half-baked and I think needed more specific questions. 😟

Most questions were vague and open-ended, leading panelists to describe recent projects they worked on–which didn’t seem complex or unique. It seemed like the panel hadn’t interacted with each other much previously, so the interactions on-stage were minimal as well. Even the layout of the panelists on-stage–lined up next to each other rather that in a semi-circle–didn’t encourage discussions between panelists. 😕

There were a lot of industry buzzwords, mentioned without context, to an audience that doesn’t all speak English as a first language. Everyone on stage seemed a native English speaker, but that’s not true of the audience. Abbreviations like “B2B” being said aloud without explanation can be tough for a non-native speaker to understand. 😓

This panel didn’t really work for me, though there were a few good bits of information throughout. 🤷🏻‍♂️ There was also a neat question about AI design near the end–props to the audience member who asked that question. 😄

Getting your privacy notices ready for GDPR by Heather Burns

The United States’ domination of tech meant privacy was seen as a contractual matter, not a cultural one.

Wow, Heather is an amazing speaker. The two GDPR/law-related talks I saw definitely had the best speaker at this conference. Who says the law has to be boring? 👩‍⚖️

Heather started by thanking Mark Zuckerberg’s response to Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal for getting people to care about privacy. This talk was an amazing primer on why privacy in tech has been the way it is for so long–company-centric; long, legalese privacy policies; and contractual rather than clearly-explained.

GDPR shifts the focus from the company to the data subject (eg. the user, you). This is a big deal and Heather seems to be a strong advocate for privacy in tech. This was awesome to hear. 💯

The audience was shocked to hear that PayPal, thanks to GDPR, discloses the 600+ third-parties it shares user info with–everything from advertisers to fraud checkers. That was her point: GDPR lets you realise how your information is being used. Gone are the days of your data will be shared with selected third-parties. 🔍

The focus of this talk was how to explain to your users what you’ll be doing with their data and why. My takeaways:

  • use plain English
  • no more walls of text
  • contextually inform users at the point of collection (inline in a text field, not in a link under the entire form)
  • supply choice and options
  • tell users why you are collecting data and what you plan to do with it
  • if you share data with other companies, link to their privacy policy

There was so much more great info in this talk. Look for it on WordPress.tv because it was fantastic. 👏🏻

An Introduction to Unit Testing (for WordPress) by Thorsten Frommen

I prefer glass-box over white-box, to describe unit testing.

This talk was an introduction to unit testing in general, and not WordPress-specific unit testing. For me this was a disappointment, because I’m very familiar with unit testing and the ideas explored in this talk. I was hoping to learn a bit of WordPress-specific testing info as it’s been awhile since I wrote much PHP or WordPress–unfortunately the talk was more generic than that. 😞

That said, it was a very good introduction to unit testing in general, and the audience seemed to quite enjoy it. I think it was a case of a talk being mis-titled, or augmented to fit a specific conference’s theme. That’s a shame, but it was still a good talk. It just wasn’t really much new info for me. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Update: Thorsten reached out on Twitter and provided WordPress-specific unit testing links. Thanks! 👍🏻

Closing Remarks

The end of day remarks were reasonably short and sweet. The clapping for sponsors was extremely loud, but oh well! I liked that once the closing remarks were finished, Ana told everyone we needed to promptly leave the building so things could be cleared up. That was great; it prevents katamaris. 👍🏻

I liked that Richard and Sarah decided that the no-show winner at the closing ceremony’s prize draw was out of luck–after announcing a winner who wasn’t there, they drew a new winner. 👌🏻

I had a great time at WordCamp London. It was great to meet a bunch of new coworkers and this year’s line-up was awesome. Props to the organisers for putting on a great show, to the London Metropolitan University for being a lovely venue, and to the volunteers for making it all happen–I did it one year and know it’s a lot of effort.

I hope to make it to next year’s event! 🙂