wasting bandwidth since 1999

A Space of Your Own

Some interesting thoughts on blogging from an interview with Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress:

We both know that blogging has been declared dead at least five times. But that’s like saying creativity is dead, or like personal expression is dead. Ultimately some percentage of the people who get a taste of it through a Facebook or a Twitter or a Tumblr, start reblogging, start interacting with creating on the web, some of them will graduate, some of them will feel like they want to have more of their own space, their own voice. And blogs thus far, have been the best medium for that.

I don’t believe that everyone needs a “blog”. However, everyone needs control over their online persona and that’s something we should be teaching our students.

Most of the discussion is a little geeky and very business insider. But as a long time WordPress user, I was intrigued with Mullenweg’s statement of dissatisfaction with the current state of his creation.

I’m still unhappy with WordPress to this day. I don’t think it’s feature complete because there are still 5.99 billion or 6.99 billion people in the world not publishing, who don’t have a voice online, who are digital sharecroppers on someone else’s domain. And I want them to have a tool. I want them to use open source software, whether it’s WordPress or something else. [emphasis mine]

“digital sharecroppers”. Interesting terminology, a phrase to stick in my mental shoe box.

Anyway, he goes on to say that he’s working on a “radical simplification” of the WordPress interface, noting that the current version has controls similar in complexity to those of a digital SLR, something that just doesn’t work on a mobile phone.

It will be fun to see what comes from Mullenweg’s thinking.


  1. Tim Owens

    It’s interesting to think about his comments in light of what they’ve done with WordPress.com. I don’t disagree with the idea of “digital sharecroppers” but something tells me Mullenweg is perfectly fine with having them on his domain. I do disagree that Tumblr is the antithesis of the ideals he is talking about (minus the open source bit). One can build out their online space and make it their own publishing platform using that tool. It just conveniently happens to be a large competitor to what his for-profit company is building with WordPress.com so I’m sure he’d love to lump it in with Twitter/FB.

  2. Tim

    I’m not very familiar with Tumblr but I think the “digital sharecropper” comment completely applies to Facebook. The primary focus of the company is to sell ads around the content members provide and it’s nearly impossible to export the content out of their plantation. Same for the new darling, Pinterest. As to Twitter, it’s also difficult to take your content with you but they haven’t figured out a viable business plan so it’s hard to tell where they fall on the evil scale. I suspect Tumblr is far more benign that most personal posting services.

    If someone isn’t going to host their own site using WordPress (Hippy Hosting would be a great place to do that! :-), I think WP.com is about as good as you get when it comes to transparency and freedom to move. But my point is that people need to take control of their own online image regardless of what tool they use.

    • Tim Owens

      I totally agree. Self-hosted is getting easier but it’s still not manageable for a lot of folks and if people are going to publish on a hosted platform WordPress.com rocks for having the content easily portable. The real hurdle for DIY folks is building a sense of community. On hosted spaces (like Flickr) the community is there. Building it yourself means folks have to come to you, and many just won’t. It’s a tough trade off. For now I try to put only things I care less about in places that could disappear suddenly and continually keep an eye on how portable the data is to move when necessary. It’ll be interesting to see how WordPress evolves over the next few years.

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