WP Briefing: Episode 68: Toward a More Interconnected Web

Comments Off on WP Briefing: Episode 68: Toward a More Interconnected Web    December 11, 2023 12:00

In this episode, WordPress Executive Director, Josepha Haden Chomphosy articulates the vision for a collaborative ecosystem where knowledge sharing and contributions to open source tools lead to a more interconnected and empowered web.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@WordPress.org, either written or as a voice recording.


Host: Josepha Haden Chomphosy
Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Brett McSherry
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes


[00:00:00] Josepha: Hello everyone. And welcome to the WordPress Briefing. The podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Here we go.

[00:00:28] (Intro music) 

[00:00:40] Josepha: If you’re already familiar with the WordPress project, and if you’re listening to this podcast, I feel like it’s a safe assumption that you’re probably also familiar with the fact that we are what’s considered a free and open source software project. We adhere to the four freedoms of open source. We track bugs in the open, and we believe that knowledge sharing can only improve our products. 

But you might not be aware of the other open source projects that are foundational to ours and otherwise are integral to our commitment to the open web. At last year’s State of the Word, Matt mentioned that one of the coolest things about being a plugin or theme author in WordPress is that you get to run your open source project on the same infrastructure that WordPress runs on. So, no matter whether you have five installs or five thousand, you’re getting the benefits of our bug trackers, messaging, and network of project sites. But beyond those, which are, of course, near and dear to us, we also support projects like PHP and its foundation. Openverse and its founding organization Creative Commons, and of course, the two that we’re hearing a lot about this year and next, Playground and Matrix.

[00:01:52] Josepha: That’s a lot of projects and not even a comprehensive list. And honestly, it can seem, I don’t know, a little weird. Like, we’re a FOSS CMS, right? You probably know why we contribute back to PHP. It’s the same reason we ask people to contribute to WordPress. But why are we giving so much time to a media search engine, or a Web Assembly implementation, or even a messaging protocol?

At first glance, there are, of course, a lot of quick and easy answers. For instance, like, open source is open source. Any open source contribution is going to be a good contribution. All open source in the world increases good and freedom in the world. Like, open source is open source. Makes sense, right?

Another quick and easy answer is, you know, they’re part of us. And that’s true, definitely, for PHP, like, they’re part of us, and so we should be contributing back to them. Because we rely on them so much. And then a third quick and easy answer is that we, as the biggest open source CMS on the planet, basically, we can, spare a lending hand. We can offer a little bit of help to those around us. 

[00:03:03] Josepha: And those are all true. I don’t think that anyone would disagree with any of that. But the thing that ties it all together for me is something that’s a little harder to see. In the 2022 goals that I posted, I said that my second goal for our year was to support open source alternatives for all site-building necessities.

At the time, I was primarily talking about Openverse and the directory of photos that was being created as a CC-first source. But that also applies to all of our directories. It did then, just as it does now. And Trac, and our vast network of WordPress sites. All the tools we use in order to collaborate with, and lead for, and learn from each other.

I want us to be able to do everything it takes to build an online presence using open source tools and methods because WordPress is just a glorious little microcosm of the interconnected web. It reminds me of this art installation I had the privilege of experiencing. It’s called Meow Wolf. I went to the one in Denver, but there are a few different installations across the U.S. The one that I went to is this massive art installation, and it is designed to be interactive, but it wasn’t until you started sharing your experience sharing your knowledge with other people that you realized it was also collaborative, a set of buttons you pushed in one room would cause a light show in some other room.

[00:04:34] Josepha: So you were enhancing the experience of strangers in some completely disconnected room to yours, and they couldn’t distinguish it from an automation or something they did, or just plain old magic. And that’s what we’re doing by supporting these other open source tools. Yes, every new open source contribution results in more freedom in the world. Yes, we owe support to the components that got us where we are today. And yes, we absolutely can and should pay it forward. But more importantly than all that, we’re creating the opportunity for new interactions, new brilliance, and new defenders of the open web every time that we work on these open source products.

[00:05:20] Josepha: And it doesn’t matter if we will ever see any of those people. And it doesn’t matter if they will ever thank us. What matters is that we see that knowledge like this is worth preserving and worth sharing. Because knowledge shared, information shared is like light. The more you share it, the more there is.

And I want you to be able to take that sharing and use it to light the world. I want you to be able to go out and tell people how open source has changed your life, how WordPress has opened doors for you, or how much these tools have empowered your clients. I want you to remember why you came to WordPress in the first place, and I need you to hear me when I say that I need you here in WordPress today because every little ripple of good that we create makes the world a little more good.

[00:06:12] (Music interlude) 

[00:06:20] Josepha: (SLBT) And now, my friends, that brings us to our time for the small list of big things. I’ve got a kind of a big list because I always kind of have a big list anymore, but the first thing on my list is Gutenberg 17.1. That has been released and is available for download. It includes several new enhancements, loads of bug fixes, and continues that work on phase three features that we are starting to see come through. If you don’t have it already, go out and grab it, test it, break it, and tell us what you tested and how it broke things. 

[00:06:52] Josepha: The second thing on my small list of big things is that there is currently an annual meetup survey out. So, we’ve had an increase in our meetup events, and certainly an increase in the active number of meetup groups that we have, but the community team is proposing a unified survey for all meetup members and organizers, and if you haven’t participated in it yet go and fill it out. You don’t have to have actually gone to a meetup event recently in order to take it, but, you know, it might be helpful. Either way, you have until January 14, 2024, to fill that out.

[00:07:30] Josepha: The third thing on my small list of big things is a request for feedback. The training team is working toward launching Learning Pathways in 2024. They’re looking to create a new set of content creation guidelines that enables the learning pathways to scale with a straightforward process for developing, reviewing, and updating that content. There’s a Google doc for you where you can contribute your ideas, and that doc will be open for feedback through this week and into next week. I believe it closes on Tuesday, the 19th of December, 2023.

[00:08:04] Josepha: And then the final thing on my small list of big things is actually, it’s a dual call-in. I already said with my first one about the Gutenberg plugin: get in there and test it and break it, and then tell us how it broke and what you were doing when you were testing it and broke it. And I encourage you to do that also for Matrix and Playground.

So Playground has been a really big deal all year long. It was a big deal at the end of last year. It showed up for us in November 2022 and has been really just growing in surprising ways all the way through 2023. So if you have not yet seen it, you haven’t gotten your hands on it yet, it’s a WordPress installation that is loaded entirely in the browser, totally server-free, and we’re looking at a couple of new implementations that make it easier for users who are trying to, like, kick the tires of WordPress before they decide, and developers who are wanting to test new pull requests and things like that.

So keep an eye out if it sounds interesting; it is interesting. And wander over and figure out how that’s working. And the other thing in that last call for collective testing is Matrix. So Matrix is an open source federated messaging protocol, and like so many technology projects out there at the moment, we are trying to make sure that we are preparing ourselves for the future arrival of Web 3 and all of the things that are coming along with current advancements in federated everything and AI and etc., etc.

And so, Matrix is an open source messaging protocol. There are a lot of different ways to get connected. I’ll share a link to one of the posts in the show notes over on WordPress.org/news. But if you’re interested in learning a bit about it and you don’t really want to like figure out what sort of client is comfortable for you to use. There’s also on-site chat implementations for, I want to say, like 10 or 12 of our largest or most regularly meeting groups that we have. You can go to parts of the website like make.WordPress.org/core/chat and check those out. If you have a WordPress.org account, then you can have access to that on-site chat, and that is it.

That’s the whole low barrier to entryway of figuring that out with us. Come and break stuff with us, everyone, and tell us how to make it better. 

[00:10:33] Josepha: And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Don’t forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app or subscribe directly on WordPress.org/news. You’ll get a friendly reminder whenever there’s a new episode. If you liked what you heard today, share it with a fellow WordPresser. Or, if you had questions about what you heard, you can share those with me at wpbriefing@WordPress.org. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

[00:11:00] (Music outro) 

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