Down to SF for WONTFIX Cabal

Flying down to SF for the day to attend WONTFIX Cabal, an unconference on open source project maintenance. The topics I’m struggling with most right now are: support burden (where to draw the line helping end users), and new feature development (how to decide what gets built). Even though open source has been around a while, it still feels very much like the early days.

The next 11 days

A bit of travel coming up over the next 11 days:

  • Today I’m flying to NYC to meet a few new members of the Fusion team in person. Tomorrow we have a hack day on the theme of personalization.
  • Friday evening I’m taking the train to Philly for Saturday’s BCNI. I fly back to Portland Saturday evening.
  • Home on Sunday.
  • On Monday, I’m headed to Napa via SF for the VIP workshop. I’m bringing my running shoes.
  • Thursday, I fly to Las Vegas for Loopconf, where I’ll be until Saturday morning.

If our paths intersect, say hello!

On the gear front, I recently picked up a Patagonia Refugio 28L backpack. It passed the test with flying colors on an overnight to SF. One pocket for my laptop, another for clothing, and a third for cables, etc. I can’t underscore how exceedingly awesome it is. Clothing volume-wise, I think it’s going to max out at three night trips unless I pack my reusable undies.

Status

On Alaska 388 for a quick trip to San Francisco to meet Tom and Joe for the first time. Excited for what’s ahead, both the future and the conversations we get to have for the next 24 hours. With any luck, I’ll be back in Portland tomorrow by 7 pm for the PDXWP developer meetup.

#AANDigital: WordPress in the Newsroom

Since I’ve been involved in the news industry, I’ve been a huge proponent of open source software. In particular, this selling point: open source makes for much easier cross-institution collaboration. Open source software provides a legal framework for companies to pool development resources, and build mutually-beneficial products. However, as I learned the hard way, news organizations need to get to the point where they’re comfortable managing their own open source software before any collaboration can ever happen. We’ve made some strides, but we still have a ways to go.

Today, I was honored to speak about WordPress in the newsroom to the AAN Digital Conference. The alt-weeklies industry is in a situation very similar to what I saw in college media a few years back: one proprietary CMS dominates, editorial workflow is MS Word to InDesign to web, and most of the focus is on print. It was a bit of déjà vu. Fortunately, everyone is also super enthusiastic about the web — no curmudgeons in the audience.

The WordPress-powered sites I highlighted: Quartz, Metro, CBS New York, Rolling Stones, Online News Association, and DigBoston. Quartz is near and dear to my heart because I think they’re really at the forefront of innovation with an app-like product and responsive design. I can’t wait until they roll out their commenting system.

Features and plugins I pointed out include: distraction-free writing, drag and drop media uploader, Edit Flow and WP Frontend Uploader. If you’re looking for more publishing-related plugins, we’re slowly profiling our recommendations in the VIP Plugins Directory.

One parting note: this conference was the first time I’ve heard “dry humping” as a recommended way to show your appreciation to the organizers. Keep on rockin’, alt-weeklies.

Status

Flying Alaska 244 down to San Francisco for ONA tomorrow through Saturday. Cab to plane in twenty minutes, picked up a dirty chai, and first class bump to boot. I have perfected the art of flying. Knock on wood.

It sounds like the WordPress users at ONA might be getting brunch together on Sunday morning. Let me know if you’d like to join.

An economy of abundance

The key question: how can we better conceptualize the switch from an economy of scarcity to an economy of abundance?

Last night, Leah and I had the fantastic opportunity to fly down to San Francisco to hear Tim O’Reilly speak about the birth of the global mind. As a long time listener of the podcast, it’s always been my dream to attend a Seminar About Long-Term Thinking. The essence of Tim’s talk is well-encapsulated in an essay of the same title. One idea posed in Stewart Brand’s interview at the end touches in the nature of economy in the information age.

Economy, in my perspective, is our way of understanding how we work together. We take many things about it for granted — GDP as a measurement of growth, monetary instruments as our tools for transaction — that aren’t actually hard truths. They exist because at some point along the way we invented them to make our society more prosperous with less effort.

A peculiar situation has manifested itself. Most recently with the web, we’re inventing newer, better ways to function together that are essentially “extra-economy,” or outside how we normally measure economic activity. In these systems, far more value is being created than being captured; and for many, the generated value and associated recognition is more important than financial gain because they lead to influence.

For instance, in what I do with Automattic’s WordPress.com VIP team, a not-insignificant amount of my time each day is spent contributing to open source projects. We don’t directly monetize this work but it generates value that trickles back to us. Releasing our liveblogging plugin has already resulted in several useful contributions from the community. Making money from open source is a hack though, as our currencies are based in scarcity and our peer economies are based in abundance. In the latter, the more people participating means the more everyone benefits.

Our bootstrapping of a new mode of economy is happening hand in hand with another trend: increased productivity making certain types of jobs obsolete. A hundred years ago, the number of people involved in food production was X while today it has dropped to Y, a ten-fold decrease. While we don’t yet have the nutrition we need, we’ve certainly been able to meet our caloric numbers. Douglas Rushkoff observes “we’re living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is.” For our government, the focus is to keep the populace in jobs, because unemployment breeds discontent and has a perceived negative impact on our traditional perspective of economy.

I have no idea what comes next. I see an economy of abundance as generative, whose engine is creativity in the very literal sense of the word. And it’s additive too; what’s mine can be yours and vice versa. Don’t ask me “how do I make money?” because I don’t know. That’s the old way of measuring economy and we haven’t invented the new one.

Status

Touched the Golden Gate Bridge this morning as the midway point of a sixteen mile out and back this morning. Pretty run — consistent path along the Embarcadero and perfect temperature.

#wcsf: The Zen of WP Development

The Zen of WP Development is being one with the code, and creating compelling web experiences with proper uses of the core API. It involves:

  • Focusing on the question at hand, and ignoring distractions.
  • Distilling complex situations into simpler parts.
  • Pulling from deep knowledge of the codebase to understand how APIs interact.
  • Striving for elegant solutions always.

Today, I was invited to present my perspective at WordCamp San Francisco. These are my slides. My notes are posted below them.

Continue reading “#wcsf: The Zen of WP Development”

Status

Flew down to San Francisco this morning in preparation for WordCamp San Francisco. I’m excited and nervous; my Saturday afternoon talk will likely be in front of the largest audience I’ve ever seen. That is, unless everyone ends up in the other track.

Mostly though, I’m looking forward to hanging out with the community. And, if it’s possible, find people using Edit Flow who’d like to get involved with an upcoming release!