Event Video, Featured, Tech Community, Technology, Uncategorized, WordCamp

The State of The WordPress Ten Years After

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbAll of the sites I maintain run on WordPress, except one. That’s a legacy site that I hope can eventualy be moved to the WordPress platform in the near future. Why? Because WordPress can handle the complexities of media embedding and sharing without requiring a PhD in computer science on the part of the webmaster. The reason for this is that the development community around WordPress is a vibrant and active one producing for example, 336 themes and 6,758 feature plugins in just the last year that provide new features to the websites that run WordPress- or 18.9% of the entire web. Whether you know it or not, you probably frequent several websites built on WordPress. After ten years of development as a simple blogging platform, almost 70% of websites run WordPress purely as a CMS, 20% as a hybrid blog/CMS, 6% purely as a blog and a new 7% as an app platform. After ten years, WordPress has changed not only the look of blogs, but of the entire web.

Check out this video by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, for in depth discussion of the statistics above and the future of the platform, as discussed below:

http://wordpress.tv/2013/07/27/matt-mullenweg-state-of-the-word-2013/

This is all great, but the “web” now and in the future is all about mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, social sharing and rich media streaming to these devices. WordPress must address this complexity to thrive and I’m happy to say it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening. As a personal sidenote, the majority of my frustrations as a WordPress user have been around the wp-admin panel (or “Dashboard”) and arcane methods of embedding, formatting and presenting media, such as pictures, audio and especially video. Social sharing buttons can be a special place in hell all their own as new services pop up that you may want to link to from your blog. This blog right here- imperfect as it is- is a bit of a sandbox for me to try out new themes and plugins that solve some of these frustrations.

So what’s coming in WordPress that will define it’s second decade? First, in 3.6 code name “Oscar” (for jazz pianist great Oscar Peterson- got to love Mullenweg’s penchant for jazz-based code names as a homage to his saxophone playing youth), a focus on the 2013 theme formatting well on all devices, media streamlining with native audio embedding and smart video handling using simple content URL’s rather than complex embed codes, and much needed changes to the wp-admin UI. These are welcome changes to the point release that I’m looking forward to. Very rarely can I create a post in WordPress right now without switching out from the “Visual” WYSIWYG editor to the “Text” page source code editor and playing around with some embed codes and basic HTML formatting. But there’s more under that hood in how WordPress will address development moving forward.

As I understand it, WordPress’ new software/feature model will now support parallel release development and will follow a layered stack. The “core” will be the foundation of the stack along with layers for other services, plugin features and presentation layers. As a much less monolithic approach to development, this allows teams to form around these layers and submit updates to the project when ready. That to me is the definition of platform development, having seen such models work successfully on past open source kernel projects I’ve been a part of. Based on comments during the Q & A section of the talk, I gathered that this new cycle of development could possibly cause headaches for those who support the installed base for their clients. Change is always difficult initially, but the needs of the installed base will always be heard. Perhaps WordPress ends up with an Ubuntu-like LTS model with a stable release maintained for x number of years for enterprise customers?

While listening to Mullenweg’s presentation, it struck me how much thought was put into realigning WordPress as a platform and adopting a nimble and distributed development approach. The first ten years was birth, early development and feature growth through add-on plugins and themes. The next ten years will see a faster integration of new features, bug fixes and security updates. For the WordPress end user the Google Chrome model was referenced: WordPress would automatically update with the latest fixes and enhancements without direct user intervention, ensuring that all installations were running the latest/greatest codebase. This is how all our modern operating systems and most apps behave today so it’s great to see that idea ported to WordPress.

This brings me to my last thought, what do I think is in store for WordPress in the future? These are my predictions going into the next ten years, so let’s seen if any of this speculation turns out to be fact. One theme Mullenweg has mentioned often (and again in this presentation) is that WordPress can be the antidote to the walled garden of the web, especially those places where user agreements allow those companies rights to your content. So as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. change your rights and privacy continually, your site’s content is owned by you and I do believe WordPress will evolve to a richer feature set that provides the usefulness of a social network with a distributed and individually owned content model. Just take a look at Pressgram to see an exciting example!

Then there’s the app. I was surprised but not shocked at the newly reported growth of the platform supporting standalone apps. In the presentation there was a demonstration of a kiosk built on the CMS. That could be a “killer app” for WordPress. The software was already designed for the cloud day one, based on open source web standards and now it could have the potential as a software stack running on hardware. Think of this app as a complete CMS framework with connectivity built in, but also on standalone devices including mobile and embedded. Would we eventually see the WordPress environment branch out into something like a Facebook Home or Chrome OS?

What other developments could we see on the horizon for WordPress? Although a seemingly fiercely independent company, Automattic (the company behind WordPress) could see interest in outside partnerships, investment and even attempts at acquisition during it’s next decade. In the competitive environment of behemoths like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, I could see WordPress providing the foundation for a mainstream social network or CMS strategy as a competitive edge for a company with deep pockets of cash. Apple has come and gone with iWeb, Microsoft could make it’s first foray into open source without negatively impacting it’s core, proprietary products, Google’s culture could mix well with WordPress folks although they already have their own blogging platform and Yahoo is just buying stuff (although they just recently bought Tumblr)… This is just far-fetched speculation and I have no insider information, but it’s interesting to consider that as WordPress platforms grow to power 20% of the web, it’s not hard to wonder what the market will make of this asset in the future.

Most important, I look forward to working with all the new features to come in WordPress in the coming years. Great software, developers, content creators and communities make WordPress one of the very best things of the web.

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Event Video, Featured, In Memoriam, Tech Community, Technology, Uncategorized

Douglas Engelbart and The Future, Now

© Mike Gebhardt / drnormal, All Rights Reserved

© Mike Gebhardt / drnormal, All Rights Reserved

The Future (intentionally capitalized) is important. It’s as important to us as food, water and shelter and is made from our dreams and desires to create a prosperous life for ourselves. It exists in the earliest cave art, religion, science, literature, education- because we visualize and desire to bend the inevitable Time, to our own will. It’s the heart of creativity and who we are and we should pay reverence to it as amazing and somewhat mystical because it transcends needs of The Now, pointing a compass to a destination- a collective idea- traveled by like minded people. The Future is both large and complex, and small and personal.

Douglas Engelbart was a special man who actually lived in The Future. Not just in his dreams- Engelbart manufactured The Future for himself and for all of us. I can trivialize his biography simply as “inventor of the mouse” or you can read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart  I think his memory is best served if you watch and listen to a man who invented The Future right here, on this blog, in these embededd videos, on this Internet. All of this existed in 1968, just not in that collective Now.

I’m concerned about The Future. Mainly because a person who thinks about these things everyday has pointed out that The Now seems to taking over more thought time in our consciousnesses which is confusing to me, since we have every bit of information, technology, and tool at our disposal to create The Future on a grand scale. I never imagined Instagramming my lunch to post on Facebook when I was a kid watching Star Trek on rerun television. I imagined we’d cure disease, eliminate poverty, bigotry and war, double our lifespans, and travel the stars exploring strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. I think we can still do these things and they’re easier than we think. What we need is a collective dream- a grand challenge much like “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”. We haven’t even done that in over 40 years!

I think we should tackle the problem of Time. We’re slaves to this fundamental thing that we still don’t understand well. Matter on the other hand, is becoming very clear to us- how it exists, where it exists- but we need a detailed understanding of Time if we are to grow into The Future next. We have it inside us. We can do it individually by starting small, making every thought have a future component to it, but we must begin to dream again of The Future here in The Now.

 

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Beer and Blog, Conference, Featured, In Memoriam, Lunch 2.0, Open Source, Oregon, personal, Portland, social media, Tech Community, Uncategorized

Thank You, Igal Koshevoy

Thank you, Igal Koshevoy for the help and all you did for Portland. I will greatly miss your presence.

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A last minute, short message letting me know a meeting wouldn’t be happening Tuesday night alerted me to something wrong. Very wrong. A few vague tweets later I could feel that something bad had happened in the tech community and a quick follow-up message “by now you probably just saw the announcement…” was numbing. Damn!

The world continues to feel senseless to me. I’m asking why someone who made this a much better place had to leave us now? There’s no answer. All I have are memories of how he presented himself and how much he helped.

I can’t remember exactly when I first met Igal Koshevoy, but I’m sure it was at Cubespace. My first recollection of him was picking up some bags of production gear as I was packing up an event there. I shot him a glance, like saying: “umm, where’re you going with my bags??” Wearing one of the heavy backpacks, he also grabbed as much as he could carry in each arm unbalanced and asked if my car was parked out front. I recall he opted to take the stairs and I worried that he was going to throw out his back or worse, fall down the stairs. He didn’t. I think this was a bit of a guy thing, probably part of his past as an Eagle Scout. I could relate to that.

Most often he would swoop in unannounced to see what he could do to help pack in or out- kind of like a conference ninja- I didn’t ask, he just quietly appeared with a smile. He had other responsibilities, but he always found some time for the ‘grunt work’. More importantly that’s what he did in the tech community as a leader. Ignite. BarCamp. Open Source Bridge. Ruby Brigade. ePDX. OpenConferenceWare. Calagator and Photographer & Artist. That’s the short list, but the things he did held a great impact on the people of the open source, startup and tech communities in Portland, Oregon and beyond. He was the definition of mensch.

We shared some funny moments during Open Source Bridge 2011. He tried to take some pictures of me at the podium while I packed up after the keynote. It devolved into me posing like a Roman Emperor addressing the Senate. He didn’t post the photos, probably for a very good reason. In 2012 I really wanted to catch up with him because there was an idea for a community project that I wanted his opinion and guidance on. I privately told a few people that I knew the perfect person to discuss this with, but we didn’t run into each other as had been usual and I completely missed the opportunity. I’ll have that to regret the rest of my life, wondering what guidance, input and advice he would have had.

Some people who knew him better than me have written eloquently about how he touched their lives. Pouring over his Flickr photostream, I’m reminded of the events and find pictures I hadn’t seen before. He not only documented the rise of this new Portland tech community from it’s beginning, he also captured in photographs some pivotal personal moments of mine. As I commented to a friend and someone who also knew him well, his passing is kicking over a few rocks in my life to see what’s underneath. That’s a bit tough to acknowledge at the moment, but reading the last section of this thoughtful blog post by Addie Beseda struck a nerve- that it’s time be open and public about how we feel and what we need from each other. Our social apps give the power to share the most intimate yet mundane details of our day to day lives, yet that seems to me a smoke screen, a diversion from the very real feelings we hold tightly inside. Like Igal showed up for our community events and projects, we must find a way to show up for each other during the times when selflessness can paradoxically turn to a feeling of isolation. That’s hard work but I’m reminded that Igal made hard work look fun in the context of community.

Thank you, Igal Koshevoy for the help and all you did for Portland.

We are planning a Celebration of Life for our friend and colleague, Igal Koshevoy. We welcome all who wish to participate, volunteer, and contribute to these efforts. Igal’s memorial will be Sunday, April 21st from 4-7pm at First Unitarian Church, 1211 SW Main St, Portland, OR. Please RSVP at Eventbrite so we can plan accordingly. You can sign up as a volunteer when you RSVP, or by contacting carolynn@tenx.org. We have set up koshevoy.net to help our community celebrate Igal’s life. Please share memories, photos or words of remembrance, and read what others have shared. We have also created a Facebook page, and on Twitter we request that you use the hashtag #igalko or his twitter handle @igalko. Stumptown Syndicate is accepting contributions on behalf of Friends of Igal Koshevoy, if interested please read the Contribute page.

Memorial Site: http://koshevoy.net

Memorial RSVP: http://igal-koshevoy-celebration.eventbrite.com/#

Memorial Live Stream: http://new.livestream.com/bcHD/igal

 

 

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journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Somebody Actually Made Money in Podcasting – Congratulations!

Just when I thought November would quietly putter along, it’s been quite a news month. Avoiding the obvious, in the local media market the financial woes and mismanagement of Portland Community Media, the community access cable studio and network caught my eye a few weeks ago. Over the years, community access television and PCM specifically has provided the deep technical resources and broadcast network to small-time producers of political, cultural, religious, educational, alternative, vile, artistic and just plain weird shows whose only common thread was a legal requirement of local cable franchises to support the communities they do business in by providing the resource to citizen producers without prejudice over content. They were the real free speech factories. Yes, I said were.

Several years ago I was looking for an outlet for my video production side projects and PCM was the leading option at the time until a co-worker showed me his first generation iPod and introduced me to the word podcast. “Why the hell would I produce anything for such a limited audience? Content for a very privileged few who carried around a little white music player? No thank you!” Well I soon got religion and started to consume podcasts that were the primer for what the medium, and the new social media were all about. I was hooked. Not only because the social web was a new hack on old broadcast ideas, but simply that the production-cost barriers to entry were minute. Anyone can podcast!

And so we did.

 

And he did too, and the world changed a little bit. Well, at least the world of Portland, Oregon beginning in 2009. Robert Wagner began his no-holds-barred Portland Sucks daily podcast as a labor of love, birthed as many shows had from the loins of his blog of the same name. And it was good. Instantly better with dependable co-host Sabrina Miller. Better than any censored morning radio show in the market that plays too many mattress ads and payola music. It turned out that he was so good at this podcast thing, he launched his own live streaming internet radio podcast network with multiple daily and weekly shows as pdx.fm and later rebranded as cascadia.fm. The network was so good that he attracted top notch radio talent like Cort and Fatboy to continue their popular show post KUFO. For three years my mornings were filled with live cascadia.fm programming, often streaming to my iPhone during my morning commute- just like listening to “real” radio that magically didn’t suck. To think that Robert was the technologist behind the station, its executive producer, webmaster and designer, CEO, audio engineer and the star talent is a little mind boggling because he somehow was able to do all those things exceedingly well and survive it. I can’t think of anyone in media that has done all that by themselves at his level of quality. No one.

But now it’s all come to an end. It’s a bittersweet end for sure, and even if I can continue to download new podcast episodes I’ll still miss the shows live stream every morning. I’ll miss the chatbox derailing, or often in the case of Cort and Fatboy guiding the stream of consciousness humor through to the coda of the show. What’s the good news, then? Cascadia is going out on a high note. Robert sold the internet network as an encore to the final bow of one of the coolest media experiments Portland has seen. He made money podcasting!

Like he said he would.

And in a way it proves a point that this scalability of current media models can and will thrive and you don’t need to justify your multi-million dollars of bad fiscal management on a poor economy with the excuse of serving the public interest. The public interest is being served quite well over here without you: http://www.livestream.com/occupyptown and the many fine programs on cascadia.fm have been serving us thoughtful entertainment for the last three years without donations or pledge drives. It all just sort of works. That is, if you’re smart, hard working and have confidence in what you are good at. That’s Robert’s formula.

So congratulations to you Robert Wagner and thanks for having made cascadia.fm a destination of quality programming. I’ll miss it, but I’m also happy knowing you were rewarded for all your hard work. You deserve it, man!

Mike

 

More with Robert about media:

Panel at Digital Journalism Camp

Webvisions Panel on Future of Podcasting

Strange Love Live 2009

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Film, journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Listening to the DJ – DJ Wilson of KGW Media Group

Last week I attended Broadercasting an event hosted this year at KGW studios by Elemental Technologies and Rentrak, two leading media technology companies in Portland, Oregon. The event was primarily a mixer for Northwest Video Professionals and among the attendees were folks from OMPA, Elemental employees showing off their video compression technologies, and Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Oregon Film Office. There was however a 30 minute panel discussion on media, with Rentrak, Elemental and KGW panelists.

DJ Wilson, President and General Manager of KGW Media Group is a television executive that “got” the social web early on. She gave the green light to reporters and producers to engage their viewers on Twitter back in fall 2008 and even included content and viewer comments on Live @ 7 (also known as The Square). Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this particular DJ. 🙂

Take a listen to what she has to say about the current state of her business, consumers and how technology continues to change how media is consumed.


 

My friend Brian M. Westbrook also shot this video at KGW’s Studio on the Square Tweetup back in 2009. Take a look back to see a TV station taking some informed, forward-thinking risks during a major change in their industry.


 

 

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journalism, Open Source, Tech Community

Open Source Bridge 2011

Hey there! I’ve been meaning to blog a little more here but I’ve been working on some interesting things lately (more on that at a later time). I haven’t even had enough downtime for a site redesign even though I have my trial copy of Photoshop loaded up… . BTW, if you’re a designer and take pity on a guy like me, let’s talk! 🙂

I had originally intended to first post about the Webvisions 2011 conference but hadn’t had the chance. Since this post is about the Open Source Bridge conference, I’ll direct your attention to this years Webvisions keynote by Douglas Rushkoff. I think it speaks to the heart of being an Open Source citizen. Anyway, here’s what OSBridge is all about:

The conference for open source citizens. Open Source Bridge is a conference for developers working with open source technologies and for people interested in learning the open source way.

The conference is in it’s 3rd year, and going strong. In addition to posting the keynotes, the organizers have provided a media room where people can come and podcast, interview, blog or just hang out and talk about media production. We are providing a place to conduct video or audio recording using what we have setup or bring your own. No gear, no worries- we’ve got you well covered and can assist you. Just come up to the 3rd floor and you’ll see us in the fishbowl.

So maybe you can’t attend and want to get a feel for what this conference is all about? Well your in luck, because here’s this mornings welcome and keynote from the conference, enjoy:

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