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#JWC15 - The African Way

If you are reading this article, you would be pleased to know that am alive. I have just returned from Joomla World Conference 2015. My journey took me through some of the world’s busiest Airports – Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Mumbai (BOM) formerly known as Bombay International.

I applied for the Joomla Event travel immediately it was announced on social media. It was my second time and I didn’t have much confidence that I would be sponsored for the trip, dont get me wrong. In my line of work involving with Content Management Systems, I have met great people who have done a lot in Joomla Communities around them and every time I listen to them talking, I always wish I could do what they have achieved.

So I had a lot of excitement to be in the Joomla World Conference and interact, network and have fun with great minds. This was my first time attending the Joomla world Event and visiting India, one of the greatest and oldest economy of the world, the second most populous nation with over 1.2 billion, seventh-largest country by area and the most populous democracy.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as of October 2015, the Indian economy is worth US$2.182 trillion; it’s the 7th-largest economy by market rate. India’s telecommunication industry, the world’s fastest-growing, added 227 million subscribers during the period 2010-11, and after the first quarter of 2013, India surpassed Japan to become the third largest smartphone market in the world after china and US.

Bangalore also known as Bengaluru, the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka was the host for the Joomla World Conference 2015. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India, because of its role as the country’s leading information technology (IT) exporter. Indian technological organizations ISRO, Infosys and Wipro are headquartered in this city.

It is also home to many research institutions in India such as; India Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore) (IIMB), and many others. Bangalore confronts substantial pollution and other logistical and socio-economic problems, but with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $83 billion, Bangalore is ranked fourth in India by overall GDP contribution, after only Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

Sheraton Hotel at Brigade Gateway was the official hotel venue for the conference. A five star hotel located near the city Centre and fifteen miles from Bangalore Airport. The hotel is set in an upscale lifestyle enclave beside a hospital, with sky access to the world trade center and Orion Mall, the city’s largest shopping mall. Over 2,300 square metres of event space comprising 19 unique venues, while six restaurants and lounges offer casual or fine dining. 24 hour fitness gym, infinity pool and sumptuous shine Spa offer great combination for business.

The Journey

The Joomla World Events are organized and managed by a team of volunteers sitting in different parts of the world. They have amazing dedication, using IT tools to connect with each other and achieve a common goal. My life was then placed in the hands of this great team. After accepting my award, my name was printed in the Joomla Magazine, and that marked my first step to the World Conference.

The award took care of my travel, stay and event. On my part I needed the passport with an India visa, luckily, my country Kenya has had good relations with India and because of that, I was able to apply for my visa through the e-Visa portal on the embassy website. I arrived in Bangalore’s Airport from Nairobi via Abu Dhabi, at 3am on 5th of November and with my e-Tourist visa, there were no questions asked.

The moment I stepped out of the terminal building I met Daniel Net for the first time. He was arriving from France. Together with my colleagues from Kenya and Uganda, we managed to grab a taxi that took as to the hotel. We got lost on our way and arrived at our Hotel 1hr 30mins later. We were received by Saurabh Shah, a member of the Joomla Event Team. Because of our early arrival, we were able to get some rest and recharge, ready for the 3 days event ahead of us. I went to the gym and covered 5km on the treadmill. I cooled down at the pool and took a walk to the park and the mall, just seconds from the hotel. I was set for the Conference.

The Event

I have attended many events in my career as an entrepreneur, events organized by big corporates from San Francisco’s silicon Valley, like Oracle, Cisco, VM Ware and others, but I have to say that Joomla Events are well organized. Considering the ones I have had an opportunity to attend or follow through social media. The #JWC15 was not an exception; the Joomla team worked round the clock connecting delegates through different flights to the event, making sure that everything was set for the day. The lobby on second floor hosted sponsors stands, with information materials, technical advice, gifts and giveaways.

The venue was ready. The pre-event started at District 6, a restaurant at the ground floor of the Hotel, being a Thursday, they had a Karaoke night, drinks and food sponsored by Joomla!, Excitement was in the air. Soren surprised the crowd with his singing skills, performing the song Hallelujah originally done by Alexandra Burke, which he renamed Halle-Joomla and it threw the crowd into jubilation. I haven’t sung to two people before let alone a crowd, but with the energy in the house, I found myself on stage doing Chasing cars by snow patrol and Califonication by the red hot chili peppers.

I retired before mid-night. The first day of the JWC15 started with a keynote speech from Open Source Matters President Sarah Watz, who took the delegates through the journey with Joomla and open source matters, the great challenges they have overcome and achievements that have led to Joomla celebrating 10 years. She also urged the Joomla’s delegates to see great opportunities to grow the Joomla community. We then headed to the breakout sessions. I attended Joe’s session of ‘terms of your slavery’.

Coming from Africa, our labour output per payment is always measured in 8 hours service. For many Africans they either don’t know their terms of slavery or they don’t know how to negotiate for the same. I met many Joomla’s, who are willing to hire expertise from different countries were interested to know income per hour basis, and this topic gave Joomla’s insight on how to choose your client wisely, avoiding clients from hell who want to devalue skills to a commodity and bully the worker. Increasing contribution of students with Joomla was also an exciting session for me.

Over three years, I have worked with students in different universities in Kenya, encouraging them to get involved in the Joomla community activities. Ruth came in that afternoon laying down some of the promises developers break, tools they can use to make sure that they don’t break them and the importance of not breaking them. The last keynote involved interactions with LEGO which was a combination of learning, interacting, knowing yourself and having fun. Thanks to LEGO Serious Play’s Marko Rillo. The evening ended with dinner and networking over drinks. Then Bug Squashing till late at night.

Day two started with a keynote address from Tessa Mero taking the Joomla’s through the state of Joomla Projects. Later I attended Pete’s workshop with guide to practical guide to building accessible websites. He started by taking into mind the challenges the Joomla’s were facing and trying to solve them through his workshop. The Joomla Founders Panel gave Joomla’s an opportunity to know Joomla’s founders, as well as past and current leadership as they shared about what has made Joomla! Great for the past decade. At the end of the day, we celebrated 10 years of Joomla over dinner. Networking went on into the early hours of morning.

Building and maintaining a healthy community by Priyanka Nag started us off on the third and last day. This session and that of Biraj on FUEL with Mozilla had tons of practical lessons that can really help and improve a community and the way it works. Knowing the difference between technology as a tool and people having the obligation to use it to innovate projects. Hagen gave some important insights on how to earn money with Joomla, while Carlos highlighted The Pros and Cons of social login, the benefits of using social logins, (considering that social media has tons of information that can help a client know their customers and their needs) that should be explored when building your website. Kenneth closing keynote on the history of Joomla! With the announcement of the venue of the #JWC16 and as usual there were winners. This was my first time attending a Joomla World event and it was such a great experience.

I had a great time meeting with the world J community, networking with them and creating contact. If you have never attended one of these events consider doing so. It is something you should put on your bucket list. See you in Vancouver, Canada for the #JWC16.



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