At WordCamp Europe 2017, Matt Mullenweg was interviewed by Om Malik, followed by a Q&A with the WordCamp visitors. They extensively discussed the open web, the WordPress editor ‘Gutenberg’ and WordPress’s future as an operating system for the independent web, among other gems like Matt’s take on ethics in acquisitions in the world of open-source.
In this fully searchable transcript, I highlighted my favorite insights and quotes, and I added a table of contents to improve your user experience. Here you go:
- Introducing the WordPress Editor Gutenberg
- Why a new editor? Why Gutenberg?
- WordPress as an Operating System for Social Media
- The Open Web in Five to Ten Years
- The Open Web in a world with Touch, Gestures, and Voice Control
- WordPress as a Decentralized Search Engine
- Ethics of Open-Source Acquisitions
- Google AMP and the Open Web
- Gutenberg as a Competitive Advantage
- Will WordPress adopt Web Mention among other Web Standards?
- Improving WordPress’s Security and Code Standards
(Matt Demonstrates the first version of the Gutenberg editor, now being available as a plugin, see 2:04 min)
The purpose is that we built this in a way that we can have a just state, and use it a while as a plugin. We want as many people trying this out as possible.
We’re going to build a lot more types of blocks and this is the basis for what’s going to be the future of customization. So, blocks will replace widgets, blocks will replace all the other fundamentals and primitives inside WordPress until everything is a block.
Well done, so a couple of comments. Are those my images you guys are using? They look very familiar. I just want to make sure who to send the bill to. Not everything in life is open-source. I’m going to be politically incorrect for a minute; Medium should just close shop right now, shouldn’t they?
What I’m hoping is that … Medium started five or six years ago. Browser technology, what you can do, has advanced quite a bit.
I think that this actually allows us to leapfrog past some of the really great visual editors because we’re able to build on the shoulders of things like Medium, Wix, Squarespace and other people that have come before us, and say, “okay building this today in 2017 what’s the very best experience that you can have?”.
I’m just so proud of the team, led by … and Matías, but with many others contributing, and how far this has come.
We’re about six months in on here. The previous attempts that we made, or I made, to replace TinyMCE were in about two years and we ended up not shipping it.
So, this is happening in six months, and being available to you all to run on your blog’s today is to me … I’m just so so proud of the team, and so so excited about what we’ll be able to do over the coming months.
Jokes aside. I’ve no problems with Medium, but what I do like is the idea of having a very clean interface for editing writing and creating a website. When will this become the standard interface for WordPress going forward?
It’s a good question. We did a 4.8 release, just last week. That went pretty well and we
were able to get some nice especially customization-related improvements into the core, which will significantly help new users. Also with the events widget. Now, when you load your dashboard and the news widget, it shows news, but it also shows nearby meetups and events. This could totally blow up the community side of WordPress.
As y’all know, the community, and where we are, is in many ways a secret sauce, a magic ingredient of WordPress, but many people aren’t aware of it.
The most common thing we hear from the people at meetups is “I didn’t even know this was happening, I just kind of stumbled across it.” So making those a lot more prominent is going to really help connect the community all over the world.
I think that we’ll be able to do WordPress 4.9, before we merge Gutenberg, but I want, in the meantime, to get the Gutenberg plugin used by a lot of sites – ideally over a hundred thousand – before we do the merge in the core and replace the edit screen.
A lot of people have a lot of things built into the edit screen. Part of the reason we’re putting out the plugin first, and also going to be pushing it so hard trying to get as many people to install it as possible, is so that everyone who has posting and editing screen adjustments, can rethink them, to be beautiful within this new framework.
Some TinyMCE toolbar things aren’t really needed anymore. Stuff that people did in the past with Custom Post Types, might be better as blocks.
It gives us a real opportunity to reimagine a lot of the user interactions and flows, that today we’ve taken for granted on the edit screen for about five or six years.
What what was the impetus behind redesigning this? Was it because the blogging itself has changed, or has WordPress itself changed from being a blogging platform to a web platform?
Well, I do tech support for this guy called Om, who’s been asking for this for like five years.
I still haven’t used it and I didn’t get to see it just to be clear.
It was a surprise to him too.
We’ve taken steps at this before.
If you imagine like our previous efforts with post formats, to make it easier to do certain types of media or quote posts or things like that. That whole concept can now flatten to just being a block. It’s bringing things that we’ve been thinking about for a very very long time in WordPress.
People built some things like this before, and we’re not building on any of that code directly, but building on those concepts, what has allowed us to get to this point and move as quickly as we have.
I was just looking around WordPress and seeing how much we’re doing the same thing, in different places, with no sort of logic, just because we built it at different times.
So, for example:
- you are all familiar with shortcodes, but shortcodes don’t work everywhere.
- you’re also familiar with widgets, why can’t I put widgets into my post? Why can’t I put widgets into my footer?
Why do we have these different concepts of little blocks of content all over, that can be used in different ways, but aren’t very discoverable?
Why do we have the equivalent of an HTML UI in the case of shortcodes, or maybe like a gallery image widget if we’re lucky?
Then over on the widget side. It’s really one of the most legacy things in WordPress because widgets go back almost 10 years at this point. A lot of those UI’s haven’t been rethought.
That was one of the things in 4.8; we had a text widget that never had WYSIWYG, even though we’ve had WYSIWYG in WordPress for the better part of a decade, or maybe a decade at this point.
So, just looking around WordPress with kind of a beginner’s mindset, and saying “what are the screens that we’ve looked at a thousand times that we take for granted, but that might not make sense anymore?”. This allows us a framework to completely redo all that.
So, just to be clear. At some point in the future, will people come to WordPress and after they’ve downloaded it, all they will see is this interface and then get going?
The way to think about it is that right now, WordPress makes you learn a lot of concepts; shortcodes, widgets, the stuff that exists inside TinyMCE is as blocks today. People rightly wonder why they can’t use those things everywhere.
What we’re trying to do is shift it, so that you only have to learn about blocks once, and once you learn about the image block, that can be in a post, that can be in a sidebar, that can be in a page, in a custom post type. It can be wherever you want to put it.
And that will just work exactly the same way. Whatever is integrated with it, like there’s a plugin that brings in your Google photos, or your Dropbox. That will now work everywhere, too.
Okay so, is it because people do think of blogging differently now, that this is becoming more relevant? What I mean by that is that people blog on Facebook, Twitter, even on Instagram. Blogging isn’t what used to be blogging when I started doing it almost 17 years ago. Now you guys are more involved in being a CMS for stores, and restaurants, and hotels, and stuff. Is that why you guys are going in this direction?
Well certainly the way plugins have been pushing WordPress is a big part of it. Imagine how much easier putting WooCommerce items on a page or embedding a rich contact form will be when you can move these things all around, or maybe starting to put those in sidebars with conditional views, so it only shows up on one page but not another. These things, the concepts, just become a lot easier.
The web has moved quickly over the past few years. I would say that right now is maybe the point since, for those of you who have been around awhile, remember when Six Apart was utterly dominant and kind of the arch-nemesis of WordPress in a lot of ways.
We’re probably at the point where we have more competition than we ever had in the past:
- from the proprietary side, from the Wix’s and Squarespace’s of the world, Weebly as well;
- on the open-source side with Drupal 8, which has been doing some really neat things and some other open-source platforms as well.
Then finally just on the general web content building or mobile content building. You’re an investor in what was it called like, Storyhouse? A really beautiful (especially on the iPad) app that allows you to drag and drop elements, and rearrange things to create a rich story experience.
We have magazines, whether they’re online ones, like a Vox, or Recode, or The Verge, or what the New York Times pioneered with; their snowfall story, showing really rich interactive stories.
So it’s both taking you through the history of code, WordPress is mentioned a few times, and then, as you go, there are little exercises with real-time debugging … it was pretty amazing.
You’re not going to do that out of the box with Gutenberg, but you can completely imagine Gutenberg plus a cool plugin, allowing you to build something like that. And then posts and pages evolve.
I think that’s where the independent web really has the opportunity to distinguish itself from the cookie-cutter what social media platforms allow you to do. Facebook, or Tumblr, or Twitter, or Instagram. You can’t even have links on Instagram.
That doesn’t mean that they’re not cool, but I think that as these platforms onboard people, and as billions of people come online, they’ll be like the training wheels. To get people to understand the power of publishing online, and sharing. But also there are limitations with things that the best people on these platforms will run into pretty quickly.
One of the people I’ve been talking to recently described Facebook, Google, and others like McDonald’s. They basically have one menu for everyone, and you can pick and choose what you want from that menu, but that’s about it. There are still many more people eating McDonald’s, scoff at it, but they do.
From that standpoint, shouldn’t WordPress, as a community, be looking at “how do we figure out a way to bring in what is the crucial part of Facebook, which is the social graph, the network?”
What really makes the difference, especially in the independent web, is that people should be able to discover your content more easily, and read it more easily. So, is there a way for you guys to work with somebody like Facebook to kind of push that idea?
So I think the integrations with social networks are really important.
WordPress being Swiss, meaning we can work with everything, is a key advantage that we
have there, versus some of the big giant companies that are fighting each other.
That, with the philosophical sort of rails that was chosen for WordPress currently, that wouldn’t be something that happens in core. It will be something that happens in plugins.
Jetpack being obviously a popular example, but many others as well that do deeper integrations or targeted things with the social network, social media, and the big ones that are supporting things like Jetpack, but also all around the world.
We have a very international crew here, there are lots of other social networks and things that maybe aren’t at the thresholds where they’re built into one of the more popular plugins, but in a given country that might be a very popular integration.
Are you thinking about figuring out a way to publish from WordPress into, let’s say, WeChat, WhatsApp or Telegram? And, if yes, when?
I happen to be really fascinated by the messaging platforms. Telegram is my personal favorite but, of course, I recognize the utter dominance of things like WeChat in other markets. I think it’s pretty cool. Telegram has a new sort of group broadcast feature, that I think is a really cool way to follow blogs, and we’re doing some experiments with that inside Automattic. So, there’s definitely some stuff that could come down the line there.
I think the consumption is happening not just inside the traditional web browser, that’s what I mean. The great way to think about WordPress is, WordPress becomes the information router; it takes information from my head and publishes it into all these different platforms. It stays my home stack, but it can still go to other places.
The difference between what blogging was seventeen years ago and what it is today is that people don’t go to a place to read a blog, they just need to be sent the information to get that blog. This is why I’m thinking, is that part of the long-term thinking at WordPress just now?
Absolutely. If we look at some of the cool things that made blogs such a rich interaction on early days:
- feed readers and RSS, a way to openly follow and get notified of everything out there;
- blog roles, unfortunately of which the code is still in the core, but this idea that you can link to your favorite sites and so this discovery mechanism of related blogs.
There’s a ton we can do there, but we have to make the user experience of following and reading and consuming these sites, as smooth and as fast as it is when you’re in the closed garden of a social network.
I think we can actually do a little bit better. I think that some technologies that I embrace hesitantly, like AMP from Google (accelerated mobile pages), actually do provide a really cool framework to create a more distributed Facebook. A more distributed take, or more independent take on what we want to read, consume, and follow.
And, I think that is something we’ve all woken up to, especially in the past year or two with a political cycle. The social networks, as a means of distribution, do influence how people think, how people react.
The information that we put in just like the food you eat influences your health, the information that we eat and consume influences our mindsets, and our happiness, and what we want to do, and the actions we take.
So I think that we’re going to be want to be much more thoughtful.
The McDonald’s-Facebook analogy actually works on a whole different level than we even intended it when we started, but to stretch it just a little bit further:
McDonald’s is what’s called the largest restaurant in the world. I’m just making this up because I don’t know the food stats, and a lot of people eat there. But I bet if you added up all the other restaurants in the world, it would dwarf. With all the other food consumed every day, McDonald’s will be less than 1%.
I think that that’s what the web can create. We have this ability to create something that is highly distributed, but in aggregate becomes a real driving force of humanity’s interaction with each other.
If you look at the screen thousand times in a year, you kind of you know become very familiar with it and can’t see it from a user’s new a beginner standpoint and that’s why Gutenberg is such an influential thing.
Similarly, when you look at the Internet today, you have all these people who keep talking about the open web, the independent web. They don’t see things from the average user’s perspective.
How do you make the average person care for the open web or the independent web as we call it?
Mostly because they just think about the web as Facebook and say, “well we go there, all our friends are there, and all our enemies are there, so we can just hang out in one place”. When I think about the open web, and I want the open web to flourish, but when you think about it from the new Internet users, do they really care?
Something that goes back to the very early days of WordPress, is that we strongly believed, I personally believed, in the morality of open-source and the GPL. That it’s a better thing for humanity, it’s a better thing for the world. I want everything I do to be open-source.
But also, there was a recognition from the very beginning that we weren’t going to make the web run by open-source software by going out there saying how superior open-source is. Right?
We actually had to make a better experience and we had to beat the proprietary systems at their own game. We had to be actually better than them. Not just in the license and in morality, but in the day-to-day functioning of how you interact with the software.
That’s, I believe, how WordPress beats Six Apart, which was a far better funded, larger, more institutionally supported everything competitor. We beat it not just by being open, but by being better.
Being open is part of being better, but it is a necessary but not sufficient condition to the web that we want to create; the web that we want our children to grow up with.
Which, I don’t think, looks like (I don’t have any children yet, so I had a little extra time) but I don’t think it looks like the current sort of large company-dominated Facebook, at all, version of what we’re seeing today.
So what does it look like to you, five years from now or ten years from now?
I think you can take the best of the user experience of some of these platforms, but have it bring together things from all over the web so that even if there is an algorithm determining on what you see, or what’s most popular, that you can see
how the algorithm works. That you know the data going into.
We’re in kind of a very strange spot right now. We’re going to have cars driving themselves, that we don’t know how it works. That the algorithms and the code driving that car is not going to be public. And more importantly, for machine learning systems, the data behind it is proprietary.
So, it’s going to be a black box, perhaps even to the developers of those systems. So, why it makes certain decisions? Why it works the way it does?
Cars are easy. They’re obvious because you can see them moving around. By the way, I’m a fan of self-driving cars, they’ll be vastly safer than humans. Inevitably, there being accidents, people will die, it’s just part of the law of large numbers.
But I think that this physical instantiation of this machine learning and algorithm-driven world, will help wake us up to how much our minds are being driven by the algorithms that determine what news we see every day.
I want to see how that works.
What does a platform like WordPress evolve into, ten years from now, when kids who have grown up with iPad’s, using touch, and voice, and gestures as their primary way of interacting with the information, and not text, which is what the open web is all about. It’s very textual, it’s very link-centric. How does it evolve into that? How do we overcome the limitations of user experience?
It’s a good question, and it’s an interesting thought experiment if we would all fast-forward 10 or 15 years.
I’ll say one assumption, which might be a place we disagree with: text and things on the screen, even if that screen is on our glasses or something else, visually consumed information will still be a key part of it.
I do not believe that voice-driven interfaces are going to be able to have the density to do what we consume so much. So, let’s assume that there are still screens.
I might wake up – future today five-year-old, in the future 20-year-old – and I have a beautiful device, maybe with a bendable LED.
I launched an open-source application. Maybe WordPress, maybe something else, that can then go out to all of the people I follow.
Celebrities are now using WordPress because it’s easy enough for them to use because the Gutenberg version 10 is so easy that even the most challenged celebrity could use it to post music or embarrassing pictures of themselves, or selfies.
They’re doing it because as opposed to other social networks, because they control the follower list, they can take it with them, they’re not beholden. They’ve been burnt when Instagram version 23 decided that you had to pay to reach your followers. And so the Kardashians of the world, or their children, have now moved on to other things.
I have a choice in my sort of app whether I want to see ads, let’s say, I have more time than money, or have more money than time, I filled up like a blockchain-based, let’s call it Bitcoin for the sake of argument, wallet that gives like a little microtransaction to everything I consume, or like, or share with my friends.
And so, there’s a business model for everyone out there that doesn’t have to be driven by you know users been sold to companies to sell more things.
Then I message, using open protocols, with all my friends, so I’m not tied into something that only works on iPhone like iMessage or something that sort of mines my data, like a Gmail or Facebook Messenger. I think that that is an instant, distributed, and fully encrypted transaction.
My phone is also fully secure. It’s locked with several biometrics, and so encrypted that even if a state actor had it in a physical possession it’d be hard for them to get data out of it.
We can imagine these current trends playing out for that.
And then you know WordPress version 14 is a technology behind all this.
If I buy something from the Kardashian’s grandchild that’s selling something on their distributed network, maybe that goes through open-source software as well. Instead of going to Amazon, it can go through WooCommerce or whatever other plugins take it.
You can imagine these things playing out, but if, and only if, we make the user experience better.
Well, I’m glad you’re more optimistic about the future in the open web because it will need a lot of hope and optimism and wild imagination to do that, because the open web is competing with very deep-pocketed players, with very short arms. They don’t like to share, they like to take all the time.
So I will go. I’m going to stop asking you questions as otherwise, I’m eating into everybody else’s time, and I would rather have the audience ask questions to you. If they don’t, then I’ll come back again. I have a lot of questions for you by the way.
After the Matt Mullenweg interview, a Q&A started. The following questions are asked by the audience:
In my opinion, every web site is a search engine. WordPress.com for example, if I want to discover a new blog post, I can go to discover WordPress. If I want to discover tags, I can go to wordpress.com/tags, it’s a search engine. Every website is a search engine.
In my opinion, Search Engine Optimization should be something the WordPress community develops. Is this on the map and if it is, can it go higher on the map so that proprietary algorithms and secret algorithms no longer guide users on the web?
So that’s a tough one. To make sure I’m understanding correctly, you don’t mean like the equivalent of Yoast in the core, but you mean building a Google, us building like a Google?
WordPress is the Search Engine.
One thing about WordPress is, we’ve always had a foot and idealism and a foot in the pragmatism of what’s possible in today’s technology. That’s why things like Jetpack exist. It kind of bridges between what’s allowable today on like distributed web hosts, that cost five or ten bucks a month, and what we think is going to be required in the future.
So, for example, every Jetpack site has access to Elasticsearch API, which gives them a much richer form of querying and ranking, and related posts, and everything for all the content on their site that you can’t really do with Maria DB or MySQL today.
On a per-site basis, that is there today in kind of an in-between way. You need a plugin and it’s a hosted service, but in the future, as Moore’s law continues, that will be something you can run on the $5 a month web hosts.
Of course, with Jetpack, we open-source everything, so that will be available. Elasticsearch itself is open-source.
In terms of going cross-site though, meaning that you sort of map through things, I’m not aware of a technology that makes that really easy today.
But I wonder if you take sort of the conclusion or the logical conclusion of our open API’s,
the next versions of things like GraphQL, and some sort of federation, where, being it DNS-based, or other ways that you could kind of go out there.
You could have sites that tie together better than they do today but at the end of the day, if you’re going to do a search of everything out there, you need to store that someplace for it to complete in a reasonable amount of time.
It wouldn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all engine. Discover works differently than tags do and I think maybe people could also develop their own algorithms, and have different algorithms available.
Thank you for the question. You’re very forward-thinking.
(35:50) I have a question about the ethics of open-source. You guys bought WooCommerce and have done amazing things with it. Its marketing and the support, and all those systems that you’ve put into place with the team working on WooCommerce, are amazing. Even from what was a plugin that was running well commercially before you bought it.
The one thing which worries me in the WooCommerce acquisition was not your acquisition of WooCommerce from Woo. You paid them 26 million dollars to take their crown jewel and do something much bigger with it, which is easier for a company with like Automattic with a huge reach.
What bothers me is the original creators. The coders moved with the product, but the people who spent five years developing, I think was Jigoshop, ended up with nothing from the Woo-deal, and I’m wondering how you feel about that process of sort of open-source being subverted, in that people put a lot of time and money into something, and basically had their developers nipped and ended up in a way taking a huge loss.
An alternative reaction would be when you’ve paid 26 million dollars to Woo, why not give two million dollars to the Jigoshop people. That would seem to me somehow a more equitable arrangement. It’s a really deep open-source dilemma, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
A good and interesting question, so thank you for bringing it.
I must admit that I am not intimately familiar with the subtleties there because it was many many years before the acquisition that Jigoshop was forked to WooCommerce.
I know that some of the developers who worked on Jigoshop then moved over to what at that time was WooThemes but I do think in general, that when you buy something in open-source, obviously when we did that acquisition for an unconfirmed amount, you’re not buying the code.
If Automattic just wanted the code, we could have downloaded WooCommerce and had it all. It’s all open-source, I mean, that’s one of the beauties. They could also sell it but that wasn’t the thing that we were trying to bring into the core of Automattic DNA.
- it was the people, you know 53 people joined the company, joined Automattic;
- it was the brands;
- it was the integrations;
- and meetups.
Everything that they had built since then which, from what I know, did accrue largely to when it was in its WooCommerce days. It didn’t have as much of that when it was in this Jigoshop days.
To be honest, I found out about Jigoshop before the acquisition, but a little bit later.
I had heard about WooCommerce for a while, and I think I’d seen the controversy originally when it happened. It was more like in due diligence that I was learning about everything and I read through the WooCommerce blog, going back to like the first post. I was like “oh, this thing happened”.
But I guess you can make the same arguments of WordPress itself, being a fork of B2.
At some point, if you build enough on the code, and I’m not saying what is the right answer there, because I would need to dig into more, to what actually happened, but at some point, the beauty of open-source is you can take the code, build on it enough that it becomes something that is wholly different.
I guess you have sort of a Theseus’s Ship question there.
We don’t yet have an equity model that reflects contributions to code over time. When a web host gets bought, say MediaTemple, and a half or more of the revenue is coming from WordPress powered sites, but all the people who worked on WordPress don’t receive any of that acquisition.
I think that’s just something that’s going to happen, and something you have to be comfortable with when you put your code out there as open-source.
In the future, there might be something around like blockchains, or Initial Coin Offerings, or something like that, which allows people to actually have equity what moves with code, but I don’t think that we even have the technical underpinnings for that really widely available today.
WordPress.com was one of the first publishers to partner with Google on this and initiative, to speed up the mobile web but Automattic’s official plugin hasn’t been updated for eight months. How is Google AMP good for the open web, and will Automattic continue to support Google’s initiative?
So, there are some pluses and minuses.
The things I like about amp are that it removes a lot of cruft and it’s ultra-fast. Like now in search results, if I see an AMP link, I’m more likely to click on that than other things, because I know that it’s going to load really fast. I know I’m not going to get some sort of weird pop-up, that redirects my browser to the App Store or anything like that.
That I think is good and necessary.
It is kind of amazing that Google is driving this. I don’t know if y’all saw the news that Google is going to build an ad-block into chrome next year?
It’s almost like we’re in a bizarre world for actually so many reasons but Google doing ad blocking is definitely a bizarre world thing. I feel like I’m maybe not in the correct parallel universe. Like something’s forked.
What I dislike about it are the things you mentioned.
So, AMP itself, the specification, doesn’t require to be loaded from Google servers, but that’s currently how a lot of implementation work.
I don’t like how the share URL then becomes Google dot something. I think it’s bad for phishing, as we’ve seen some very smart attack on Gmail or Google Drive recently. So, those have some downsides, but I think that those can be worked out.
WordPress was very early in adapting responsiveness, responsive pages and also some plugins including built into Jetpack itself, that do a mobile version of the site, do create a better experience. I think they are a big reason why people have adopted WordPress in the past.
AMP is the next version of that. It is more open and standard than what we’ve done in the past, and I could see it becoming a much more inclusive thing than it is.
And given that that is one of Automattic’s core principles as well, we’re going to work with Google to try to push in that direction and try to bring a lot of the web along with it.
The alternatives out there, say, Facebook’s proprietary instant articles format, are not necessarily better. Especially if they tie you into, say, one form of monetization like Facebook’s ads.
I do believe that AMP has the potential to be a much or open and in-line-with-WordPress’s-ideals version of that. But it is imperfect as it stands today.
Can I just ask a follow-up on that? I think the AMP … you as a group, WordPress as a big massive entity on the internet, basically should force Google to give people their own servers, to do AMP on their own servers as part of the implementation.
I think when you are roughly 26% of the web’s traffic, you have way more control over how they behave. You could be a cop on behalf of users, and privacy, and independence in my opinion. Thank you, Sarah, for asking that question because I’m in your camp, a little skepticism around them.
That’s a very good idea and I hope that we can always be an advocate on behalf of users in everything we do.
I liked what I saw Guttenberg. Is it heavily influenced by Wix and Divi, because I don’t have any problems editing on in WordPress, but some of my friends who are not familiar with it do. They like Divi and Wix well because they can edit so easily.
I think it’s definitely informed by things that have come before, but we’re trying to leapfrog them. We’re not trying to catch up to what these people have now, or did a few years ago.
We’re trying to skate to where the puck is going, to use a hockey metaphor, even though I’ve only seen one hockey game in my life.
So that is is the main idea, and the hope is that not just that it’s easier and more intuitive for new users but actually allows power users to do things faster.
That’s really with WordPress in its history the balance we’ve tried to walk;
- being intuitive and accessible for new people while …
- allowing folks like many of you all here in this room to maybe do the thing that you used to do, but much faster than before.
So yeah, definitely informed. Thank you for the question.
Hi, I’m Jonathan from Los Angeles work at DreamHost. Thank you so much, Om, for asking the question about the open web. That’s something that really resonates with me personally.
I spend a lot of time, like a lot of people in the room, regretting being on social media in these silos, but mainly because of convenience and interaction.
I believe as well that with the leadership position that WordPress has, and the ideals that the WordPress community has, is a real opportunity to kind of flip social networking on its head, right?
I’ve seen a lot of really cool works going on lately around the micro.blog project, if you’re familiar, and some of the stuff that w3c is doing with things like web mention, which allows you to have your sites actually interact with each other.
It’s starting to build out. I can see this future and I’m really excited about it, but I haven’t really seen WordPress take a leadership position. I’ve seen it kind of watching and observing. So I just wanted to see if you’ve been tracking those things and if you think the community should embrace it as well.
I have been tracking those things. I do think that there are other things we need to embrace and figure out beforehand.
It doesn’t matter for 28% percent of the web if we can only get a third of that to upgrade to the latest version.
A lot of these things happen. It doesn’t matter if we could create a distributed reader that spiders everything out if that’s going to be shut down by web hosts for using too many resources.
I raise it as something for the community to keep in mind.
We have something magical, which is a business model that is not advertising-driven.
I say that ‘we’ globally, as people building on WordPress services, Automattic certainly.
First, we need to build a better user experience. If you want people to use something instead of a news feed, it has to be as engaging as their news feed.
But two, because you’re not advertising-driven, do I think can you open that up in some interesting way? Yes.
But, if you don’t do that first thing, it doesn’t matter.
Andrew Nacin talked about the perfect software that no one uses. It doesn’t matter if something’s supports every single possible web standard and format, and everything. If no one’s using it, then it’s a standard falling in a forest.
I agree with you. I’m excited about seeing WordPress help drive these things though, so but great answer, thank you so much.
Related to ‘the perfect software that no one uses’: Steve Jobs on Building What You and your Friends Want.
Last year you talked about the possibility of WordPress being the operating system of the web. How far do you think we’ve got in the last 12 years, to do that becoming reality? 28% is great, but in a mobile market, we have Android, far above WordPress’s number.
I think we are doing well but I’ll go back to upgrades as I talked about earlier. A key thing of being an operating system is having a way to have people on the latest and greatest.
Security becomes a huge issue and for us, something I’m very excited about now that Gutenberg is in such a good place, and customization is going to kick off relatively soon.
One of the areas that I’m going to shift my attention to a little bit, and that we talked about in the community summit, is looking at plugins and themes, and how we can ensure that those are up-to-date and closer to the standards, and attention that we pay to the core. In terms of the code quality, the code style, the scalability, and the security of them. So, keep an eye out.
It looks like we’re about half the way there.
As a percentage, if you think about writing, editing, and customization, there you cover I would say 70 or 80 percent of the crucial tasks that people do in the WordPress admin every day.
So, we’re doing okay but could do a lot better.
- Thanks to Matt Mullenweg, Om Malik, and WordCamp Europe for this amazing interview.
- Here’s another Matt Mullenweg transcript, of his talk at a CB Insights event, where he stated: “Open-source ‘eventually’ dominates every sector it enters.”
- On decentralized social media, I have this one for you: Brendan Blumer & Dan Larimer, on Voice.com, “Social media has not been a good friend to us”.