Why India? An Interview with Jon Neubauer about JWC15
The Joomla World Conference is back for its 4th consecutive year, and we are proud to be hosted in Bangalore, known as the Silicon Valley of India. This is a big change from past years, so I sat down with the man behind the curtain to find out why. Here’s the interview with Jon Neubauer, leader of the JWC team and event organizer extraordinaire.
Hi Jon! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Before we get into the questions, can you give us a little background on who you are and how you got involved in Joomla?
I got involved with Joomla through my job. I was hired by a development shop that specialized in Joomla, so was thrown into the middle of a lot of Joomla related projects. I was able to pick it up very quickly, and from there found my way to answering questions in the Joomla! Forums, contributing and editing for the Joomla! Community Magazine, writing documentation, helping with the Joomla! Bug Squad, and several other areas besides JWC.
That’s a lot of volunteering! Are you still involved in all of those areas?
To some extent. JWC takes up a lot of time now. I joke (only somewhat) that JWC by itself is a part time job, because it takes up a lot of time year-round, since planning for the next conference begins before the current one ends (we’re already working on JWC16). But I still enjoy pitching in with the Bug Squad, helping with documentation when I can, and a few other areas.
You were involved in organizing all three past conferences, right? What inspired you to join the JWC team?
I was. I first joined the JWC team after I went to JaB for the first time in May of 2012. The first JWC had just been announced and they were looking for volunteers. After experiencing the amazing international Joomla community at JaB, I knew JWC would be an amazing opportunity for the community again, and wanted to be a part of making it happen.
I’m glad you did! You’ve done so much for JWC - what does the conference mean to you? From your perspective, why should people go? Or, for lack of a better phrase - what’s it all about?
To me personally, JWC is one of my favorite ways of experiencing of the Joomla community. The unparalleled team that makes JWC a reality starts a year before the conference - I love working with them.
And then of course getting to meet our community, see the talent our community has in every session, and watching people collaborate and work in real time, in person, is something that is always exciting to see. If you’ve never gone to a JWC or a Joomla conference, just ask someone who has, it’s an incredible learning, networking, and collaborating opportunity that can’t be missed.
What has been your favorite location for JWC so far?
Each of the locations that JWC has been to so far have been unique and created very unique environments for our community. San Jose and eBay’s headquarters for the first JWC in 2012 was a great environment for a first conference and bringing our global community together. Boston in 2013 and being hosted at Harvard University was probably my favorite so far, it was a great venue, and definitely one of the most successful Joomla events.
Cancun was also special though, it was the first time Joomla had tried to reach out with a conference to the vibrant Latin American communities we have, and that was a huge success in being able to include contributors and people we don’t normally interact with.
I think we’ll see the same with India this year, in being able to include more of our community, meet more of the contributors, and celebrate an entire decade of Joomla.
India seems a little far for some people, especially since past conferences were all in North America. What drove the decision to host JWC in Bangalore this year?
After the 2013 conference, the JWC team went through a long process to get a better sense of what the goal of JWC was, and one of our primary objectives is outreach, and to grow our global community. India is a strategic place for Joomla. The Joomla! Project has a growing number of dedicated contributors from India, we know we have a vibrant local community of developers, designers, and site builders in India and Asia in general, and we wanted to be able to include more of our community, particularly groups that don’t usually get to participate in global events.
What are some ways the JWC team will be reaching out to the vibrant community in India and Asia?
JWC15 is the first year that the conference is making a more deliberate effort to attract new community members. In 2014 we tried some outreach efforts, but this year we started planning early.
We’re collaborating very closely this year with local Joomla! User Groups, as well as helping foster the creation of several new JUG’s in the region. This is probably the most important to me personally, even if it doesn’t mean a lot of new JWC attendees by itself, helping to grow the grassroots community that will still exist after the conference over is important.
You mentioned including “groups that don’t usually get to participate in global events.” What kind of groups, and what initiatives are you driving to ensure these groups get the chance to participate?
Part of the problem with large events like JWC, is that, even though they are intended for an international audience, we can never reach everyone, the world’s just too big for everyone to travel to a place. This was our motivation in moving to Latin America in 2014, and now to Asia in 2015.
There’s no way we could ask or expect the large communities in those regions to attend conferences in N. America or Europe, it’s just too far. But what we can do is bring the conference to them, include them in the global community, and encourage growth in regions not included in N. American or European events.
What advice would you give to the regular JWC attendees who now have to travel so far to go to India and account for a significantly increased travel expense?
Well, we understand that not everyone can make it. It’s a big trip. We know a lot of attendees that we’ve seen for several years will still be attending, some of them have already purchased tickets I know. But as much as I’d love for everyone on every continent to be able to join us every year, that’s unfortunately not realistic.
For those interested in attending, I’d recommend checking out the website. We’ve got some great hotel rates negotiated with two hotels to give you some good options. Those go away at the beginning of October, and we have a limited number of hotel rooms at our discounted rates, so it’s worth it to get those soon. Early bird tickets are cheaper as well, and we’re only selling a limited number of those as well.
I think this year’s conference itself is going to be special. We’ve already got a lot of exciting plans confirmed and in the works, JWC15 will be bigger than any previous conference, and our celebration of Joomla’s 10 years is something you won’t want to miss!
So, there you have it. For more information on attending JWC this year, check out conference.joomla.org.
Jon said that JWC is one of his favorite ways of experiencing the Joomla community. How about you? What’s your favorite thing about JWC? Share your past experiences (and things you’re looking forward to!) with the tag #JWCStories.