small meaningful things

some thoughts on snippets from Matt Mullenweg on WordPress and Tumblr

I saw someone share (sorry I forgot who) this thought-provoking blurb from Matt Mullenweg on the open web vs scarcity-minded things like NFTs:

I will add that one of the most amazing things about the technological revolution was allowing for economics of abundance, not scarcity. Things get more valuable the more copies there are. We were talking about the positive flywheel of open-source earlier. WordPress gets more valuable the more free copies there are. Now we’re getting more things to introduce scarcity and the value of scarcity into the web, perhaps even programmatically with stuff like NFTs. The difference between what’s come before — from tens of thousands of humanity’s advances — is this idea that, in the world of bits instead of atoms, you and I don’t have a zero-sum way of prospering. We can both benefit from the same thing. We can perfectly copy that software and that actually enables entirely new business models that are pretty exciting. Or maybe that it’s not a business at all, which is okay. Everything doesn’t have to be for profit.

– Matt Mullenweg, How WordPress and Tumblr are keeping the internet weird

I think it is pretty revolutionary to think of things getting more valuable the more copies there are. It is the complete opposite of how we’ve been conditioned to believe. Some part of me is deeply cynical, but there is also another part of me who also believes in this philosophy, which is one of the main reasons why I wanted to design a network for self-directed learning in the first place. It also underlies this website – the desire to openly share resources. I appreciate that WordPress is very profitable and yet allows most of its users to use it for free, in almost anyway they want. That in itself is powering so much human creativity and expression (that said I’m mostly neutral towards NFTs because it is still very nascent).

This site runs on WordPress as you know, and it wasn’t a frivolous choice. It is not perfect and it really attracts attacks and spam, but I liked that it has been around for the longest time and has one of the largest open-source eco-systems. I have upgraded sites that were installed on WordPress version 2 or something and they still work, like 10-15 years later. I like how Matt describes his philosophy for managing WordPress as antifragile:

When I’m thinking long-term, I’m thinking first and foremost, “What will be best for the WordPress community this year, 10 years, 30 years from now? What will make us the most sustainable, the most resilient, the most antifragile?” I think of that first.

I don’t think many people think of their software/projects/businesses in the timeframe of decades, especially now when most entities are just trying to survive the next financial cycle. But maybe this is the gift of being open-source and non-profit if you do it right (I mean, there are also people who try the non-profit route and languish). Reminds me of why the creator of NetNewsWire decided to make it free.

I also liked other tidbits in that article, particularly how Taylor Swift is using Tumblr – really dig the weird interplay between online communities and other types of media:

Taylor Swift is reading Tumblr, and that shows up in the lyrics. There’s a feedback loop between the lyrics and the Tumblr people. It’s nuts.

…and how one of India’s most famous actors use Tumblr everyday for like the past 5000 days:

Amitabh Bachchan. He’s one the most famous actors in India. He’s the I ndian actor.Look at this. He just posted today at 11:42AM. Day 5,130 of his daily updates. It’s awesome. He’s a daily active user of Tumblr.

I guess this notes section is like my tumblr. I would like to have posted everyday for 5000 days. It seems so easy, but it requires some form of commitment to show up still, everyday.

Related posts

building a personal website & learning library with wordpress: part I

philosophy, motivation, inspiration, and early design decisions

2 responses
RSS feed updates, and the spirit of NetNewsWire
0 responses