Connecting Dots

I had an awesome time at WordCamp SF this past week. I learned a lot and connected with some amazing folks. But I came away with some ‘Deep Thoughts,’ Jack Handy style… This camp got me thinking and inspired in a way that I hadn’t felt since my first WordCamp.

October 2013 this seemingly agitated fella, Derek Neighbors, gives a talk at Pressnomics. The one thing he asked: “What, as a community, have we done with our market share and influence to make the world a better place?” This question rubbed some folks the wrong way; confused some (like me) and got some folks nodding in agreement. It sounded nice, but a challenge without direction is tough to digest… This talk was never too far from memory from that moment on. I often wondered how the talk applied to me…

December 2013, WordCamp Las Vegas, a guy known in the community as “Accessible” Joe gives an impassioned talk about accessibility and the web. It’s a talk that he’s given in some form before… It’s also one of the first times I began to think about accessibility in the work I did.

October 2014, WordCamp San Francisco; Matt Mullenweg gives his annual ‘State of the Word’ address to a packed in-house audience and countless others watching from elsewhere in the world. Mullenweg shares challenges, motivations and accomplishments. He also provides the fact that WordPress continues to grow in usage as it now powers 23.2% of the web. That figure is staggering; one in every five or six sites you see are running good ol’ WP.

The WCSF Community Summit. I can’t say much about the Summit since we’re supposed to keep specifics to a minimum. What I can say is that it was a privilege to be in attendance. Thanks go to Jen Mylo for that.

But it also got me thinking about something else…

Being more than the 23.2%

I’m not sure how much I can share, so I can’t be too detailed here. What I can tell you is that a quick exchange between a pair of contributors caused me to have an “aha moment.”

The exchange came down to this notion: Yes, WordPress is a leader, with its market share and overall usage. BUT leading in market share alone does not make you a leader…”

Basically every discussion I participated in at the Community Summit came down to this notion that numbers don’t always matter; cold-hard facts don’t always matter; action matters; what we set ourselves out to do and how that helps others is what matters. Popularity is nice, but it doesn’t do much for the world around us. Does it? No. There are ways we can take action, use this acquired influence and knowledge to make things happen.

This goes for connecting with our tech neighbors in the community, such as the PHP, jQuery and Ruby groups as an example; this extends to not just inviting other groups to join our community, but to step out and join theirs, too. We also need to consider how to make this WordPress thing and all it touches accessible to people of all walks of life, native tongues and abilities. What good is a product’s market share if it can’t bring everyone along for the ride? Yes, it’s a big idea, but I think it’s one worth working toward.

That said, I know that there’s already countless things that have been done and have been worked on to help those around us. I’ve been a part of a couple of these things in the post couple years, having attended a GiveCamp and Website Weekend LA. That said, I know I can do a little more. I think we all can.

Obviously, I’ve been trapped in my head the last 24 hours. Inspired, really and thinking about how I’ll make a contribution. I’m going to start small. I’m going to start with my starter theme and making it accessible and re-submitting on .org. And then I’ll write about that. So there’s that. Beyond that, I’ve got some thinking and planning to do.

What will you do?

4 thoughts on “Connecting Dots

  1. Alex-
    Great insight and thanks for sharing. I agree wholeheartedly that “actions matter”. “Us” merely being “WordPress Evangelist’s” to others in our sphere won’t cut it as a way to make a dent “Democratising Publishing”.

    • Here, here! There was a lot of good discussions that day and I’m speaking only of those I was able to take part in; so much good stuff! But this whole “making a dent” thing, I think there’s something to it; something worth working toward.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Good article. I agree that focusing on market share should not be the point. It has been my experience that making time for and engaging on a personal level with the members of your community is key. Whether you are designing a product or offering consulting services it all comes down to providing quality personal connection/service. With blogging and social media being so accessible, it becomes more important than ever to engage your users or clients on a personal level rather then a big mass of people that you “market your stuff to”… It’s not necessarily easy to prioritize and I am still working at improving at this myself but in my opinion, authentic personal connection/service is were it’s at.

Leave a Reply