Fittingly held in the birthplace of democracy, this year’s WordCamp Europe took place between 8 – 10 June at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre in the heart of the city, and featured the usual packed schedule of talks, workshops, and social gatherings. Attended by people from 94 countries, it was an eclectic mix of opinions, ideas and insights, with the following three themes dominating post-event discussions for our team – AI, accessibility, and security.
AI takes centre stage
If you’ve logged into LinkedIn recently – or read just about anything online over the last six months – you’ll know that artificial intelligence is a white hot topic for any content-related industry, ignited by the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. The WordPress sector is no exception, so unsurprisingly AI was the subject of several talks at WCEU, including Content creation with the help of AI which was delivered by media designer, Silvio Endruhn. An entry-level session, the presentation highlighted how to use ChatGPT and Google Bard to improve content output and streamline workflows.
To pick up some internationalisation tips, our team also attended Take your WordPress website to another level using AI translation, delivered by Dario Jazbec Hrvatin – a content manager for OnTheGoSystems. The talk demonstrated how AI can quickly create content for global audiences, saving a significant amount of time and resources for brands looking to expand their digital reach.
During the event keynote, WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg also urged attendees to leverage the power of AI tools, saying: “I’ve never seen things moving as quickly as they are right now. It’s really incredible. It feels like entire years of progress are happening in weeks or months in the AI field…You can already ask ChatGPT to write WordPress plugins.
“I would encourage everyone here in this room to be playing with these tools – play with ChatGPT, play with other AI tools. The open source stuff is catching up really quickly, and I would urge you all to be spending at least a few hours a week following up and honestly, just playing with it, it’s an amazing personalised tutor, you can use it to ask questions, you can use it for rewriting your post, the possibilities are endless.”
The topic of AI also overlapped with the theme of accessibility. Our team attended a number of talks that focused on making the web more inclusive, including Innovating inclusion: harnessing AI for accessibility which was delivered by speaker and creative coder, Sarah Galantini. Highlighting how to harness AI to enhance digital accessibility based on its current capabilities, the session also looked at the potential of the technology to build a better web experience for everyone in the near future.
As well as a session entitled Accessibility meets style: a design revolution, in which digital designer Mitchell Leber looked at how to balance accessibility and aesthetics, WCEU also featured first-hand accounts of using the web from people with impairments. This included the aptly-titled The blind guy who beat the developer at his own game session delivered by speaking coach Lazar Bulatovic and developer Andrija Radojev, as well as Using low vision as my tool to help me teach WordPress – a session presented by instructor, developer and content creator Bud Kraus.
Although there was only one talk focused on security this year, State of WordPress security – insights from 2022 was a standout session for our engineers.
Researched and presented by Oliver Slid, CEO of Patchstack, the talk uncovered what we can expect as a result of upcoming EU and USA security regulations. It also shared advice on how to strengthen code contributions to the platform, and highlighted ways that commercial and open source plugin creators can reduce vulnerabilities, such as ensuring that there are easy routes for users and ethical hackers to report bugs. As security is an evergreen priority for any enterprise agency, this was a particularly interesting session for the team, providing actionable insights that will help us to maintain our exceptional standards.
Overall, the latest WordCamp Europe was another well-organised and executed event, and there were also lots of further sessions that we would’ve liked to have attended, however we’re looking forward to viewing them online. We’ve also already marked our calendars for WCEU 2024, which is scheduled to take place in the beautiful setting of Torino, Italy between 13 – 15 June. See you there!