WCUS 2018

Enroute to Nashville for WordCamp US. I’ll be in town tonight through Saturday morning at 5:30 am. If you’re around this year, say hello! I’ll share a pear chip with you if I have any left.

A New Kind of Economy — An Interview with Andrew Yang

My honest feeling is that the entire capitalism/socialism framing is decades old and unproductive. So, what I’m suggesting is that we need to evolve to the next stage of capitalism, which prioritizes human wellbeing and development. If someone were to say to me, for example, hey, you’re for universal health care, and that’s an idea I associate with socialists…I would shrug and say, sure. [Laughs.] You know? I just think the labels are unfortunate. People have very strong associations with each one.

A friend of mine, Eric Weinstein, said a couple of things that I thought were very profound. First, he said we never knew that capitalism was going to be eaten by its son—technology. Second, we have to become both radically capitalist and radically socialist in different aspects of American life and the economy. And I think both of those things are true.

I just don’t think it’s constructive to try and pick a spot in this arbitrary capitalism/socialism spectrum. What I believe is we have to redefine our economy and re-write the rules so that it centers around us. Capitalism’s efficiency and GDP are going to have an increasingly nonexistent relationship to how most Americans are doing.

Andrew Yang – A New Kind of Economy — An Interview with Andrew Yang

Three flavors of Gutenberg backwards compatibility

This is my attempt at answering an issue I opened in January. Please take my opinions with a grain of salt.

WordPress is known for its commitment to backwards compatibility. It prides itself on functional consistency between major releases, and makes sure actions and filters continue to work as expected.

Gutenberg is big and huge and a significant change for the better. Contributors are working to make Gutenberg as backwards-compatible as possible. However, the reality is that we’ll likely taste three flavors:

  1. It continues to work as expected. For example, an enter_title_here filter continues to modify the title placeholder text in Gutenberg. Similarly, Post Type Supports is still the API for defining which features a Post Type supports.
  2. It doesn’t work but there’s an equivalent alternative. Some of WordPress’ existing architecture doesn’t translate directly into Gutenberg. For instance, media_buttons is the old paradigm for registering a button to insert something into the post content. In Gutenberg, Blocks are the new paradigm. Blocks are added to the post content via the Inserter.
  3. It doesn’t work at all. We want to avoid this as much as possible, but there will be some elements you can customize in the Classic Editor that you simply can’t change in Gutenberg.

The Gutenberg Migration Guide documents many of these specifics. New contributions are always welcome. Generally, compatibility solutions are organically prioritized against identified need, expected impact, and level of effort/possibility.

Ultimately, WordPress remains committed to the ethos of backwards compatibility, even when undertaking such a transformational change as Gutenberg. An amazing amount of effort is going into ensuring WordPress sites continue to work as expected. It’s important to acknowledge, though, that backwards compatibility is fundamentally more difficult than the past. The reality has a certain degree of nuance.

New hardware: 13″ MacBook Pro

Pictured on the left: yet another brand new, fully-loaded 13″ MacBook Pro. This time it’s a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 with 16 GB and a 500 GB SSD. On the right is my mid-2014 13″ MBP, quite possibly the best computer I’ve ever owned. RIP all of my awesome stickers.

And, with that being said, the new MBP on the left is surprisingly not awful. I put the upgrade off for quite a while because of the reported keyboard issues. My experience thus far is pleasantly the opposite; I find the keyboard quite good and enjoyable to use. I’ll need to track down a wired secondary keyboard that offers an equivalent experience.

Previously: 2014, 2011.

Competition, markets, and open source

On Wednesday, at WEA’s housing and transportation conference, I met an economist who’s studying competition and the shrinking number of small / medium-size businesses. New business formation isn’t behaving as most people would expect it to in a strong economy.

She thought open source, both software and methodology, might be a solution to make small and medium-size businesses more competitive. However, I argued the exact opposite: open source is a business strategy for an extreme form of taking the entire market.

I think one root cause of large companies growing larger is that technology lends itself to extreme operational efficiencies. With a technology company, the marginal cost of an additional customer is effectively zero. If Amazon can operate at 10x global scale with the same operational costs, it can take a smaller margin and still be very competitive. Traditional businesses can’t compete if they have a larger percentage of margin dedicated to operational costs.

So, if it’s true that more of the market is going to larger companies, is this worth solving for? And what are potential solutions? One result of current market dynamics is difficult to unwind: Amazon yields amazing customer value and worsening employment options (either by destroying jobs entirely or offering poorer wages).