WordPress rockstar Matt Mullenweg on independence


An interesting passage from Matt Mullenweg’s Open Web FTW article at Gigaom:

Everyone’s doing app stores now. Chrome has their store, Firefox has their store, and Microsoft is going to launch a store. As distribution mechanisms they’re going to be incredibly powerful, but they’re actually going to end up bringing more power back to the software creators and the developers. Because as they compete with each other, they will all be forced to open up and become better.

The Internet needs a strong, independent platform for those of us who don’t want to be at the mercy of someone else’s domain. I like to think that if we didn’t create WordPress something else that looks a lot like it would exist. I think Open Source is kind of like our Bill of Rights. It’s our Constitution. If we’re not true to that, nothing else matters.

The independent web is growing quite a bit. Although we have these great cloud servers for WordPress, the software that people run and install themselves is still as popular as ever. Our services are bringing more people online, but they’re also bringing more people who want to own their own space on the web–they want to own a house instead of rent an apartment. When we were first starting out, I thought, “Downloading and uploading software, managing databases, no one wants to do that.” But it turns out, a lot of people do.

Or as I like to call it: The second American revolution everyone in the world will want to attend (extra emphasis on the want part, men knowing that “anything is possible” across the globe is an incredibly motivating force in getting amazing things done, consult your history books and skylines).

Consider the comedian who gets on stage and commands a large audience, he is independent of the crowd (who I hope like hell are drunk) telling his hilarious truths and mistruths. Sometimes a joke will land flat and a critic in the audience will heckle. Any comedian worth his salt knows how to shut down that fella’s drunken free speechification on the spot.

Unfortunately, stratification is the obstacle open source advocates often seem to ignore once they grow in power and influence to become a kingmaker themselves. Mullenweg gets it half right here, but we’ll probably see the larger corporate app stores fall victim to more claims of bias and app censorship from the higher ups, and given enough practice they’ll become better at squashing them without too much fanfare or outrage. They’ll also be consolidating power in bolder ways. Open source communities are not magically immune from this creeping order pyramid either.

I enjoyed the part where he acknowledges the obvious motivator of every true elite, “my primary motivator is not money, it’s to make an impact on the world.” Just this world? There’s a whole giant universe out there to make an impact on.

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