This post has been on my mind for quite some time. What finally pushed it out is the unofficial international wordpress day (although I missed it by a day or two).
Karma is one of those tricky sanskrit words that relentessly changes its meaning in accomodating different contexts in which I try to apply it. In this case I am thinking of Karma as a ripple mechanism in which things we do affect the world around us. Sometimes the affects are quick and apparent, other times they are subtle and take a long time to appear. Every time I think about WordPress this image applies in many ways and resolutions.
I’ve been using wordpress for over a year now. It enabled me to establish my first online presence which otherwise I could not have achieved. I’ve lost count of the number of people I have been able to help create their web-presence and or means of expression on the internet – all through the use of WordPress. The one thing that does not cease to amaze and bring me pleasure – is the way that the qualities of the people behind WordPress shine through it to actually transform people’s lives.
The one quality that for me differntiates posts as an entity is the fact they are time related. By choosing to establish a web content management system with a time dimension wordpress has made a conscious karmatic choice. WordPress websites are dominanly prone to change and update. Whether site owners know this or not – this is a lifeline for their websites. Often times the alternative for building websites are based on either static pages or systems of technological constructs which are anywhere between difficult or impossible for non-professional users to change.
Without change websites are dead. Change is required to keep visitors interested. Change is required to keep a business alive. Change is required for engines that drive the internet to even notice a website and help drive traffic to it. Posts breathe life into all aspects of a website.
Even before a wordpress website is built, the questions that I raise are mostly about what I (or the person I am helping to build the site) want to communicate to visitors. The beautiful thing is that even when the answers are vague (which is often the case) – posts are still a wonderful solution. With a post based website we can start with a basic site, start communicating and sharing content and then change as clearer answers appear. It is beautiful to see a website mature together with it’s site owner. What better way to do it?
My own StillCreation photography website was originally built as a page-based website (with a dynamic gallery component). It took just one year of air time for me to realize that many things that I wanted to share with my visitors did not fit into the pages or galleries. Sometimes I wanted to tell a story, share a thought, show just one image. Posts were the answer and the site was (recently) changed to accomodate these needs (and I am sure others will appear).
Though I believe this is still one of the shortcoming of many technologies (WordPress included) – WordPress has done much to make good design affordable to the masses. First off the design of any wordpress site is (almost) completely independent of it’s content. This means that the design can be changed (again change!) and the contents will almost magically adapt to the new design .
In addition there is now an entire web-based design industry that has grown around wordpress:
- There is a vast and constantly growing collection of free themes available.
- There is a vast and constantly growing collection of low-priced themes that offer even more options.
- Much theme customization can be done with basic technological skills.
- There are designers who specialize in designing for wordpress for a fraction of what a design once cost.
- There are services to transform visual design into working themes for a fraction of what a custom design implementation would once cost.
If any business relationships are formed in the process of site design – they are relatively low-risk and they do not have the traps of developer dependency that can be so typical in website design and construction.
The design paradigm of WordPress has opened up previously unavailable solutions for site-owners to achieve a good web design. Designers can express themselves by sharing design ideas with a community who will put their design to use, by selling afforable designs and by providing custom design services to a market that is founded on WordPress.
WordPress is constantly getting a lot of work done to improve and enhance its offering. The developers are constantly pushing out to the wordpress users the best that they have at any given time. New version release cycles are fast and easy to implement. In addition there is a constant flow of updates and features that are delivered by a large community of developers who’s work complements the WordPress core. I can testify that every WordPress version makes site building and maintenance easier, richer and more pleasant for all involved.
Interesting enough these qualities, I feel, also appear in WordPress based websites. Instead of embarking on a design process that can take a long time, time staking test and pilots and conceptual discussions that lead nowhere – sites can be launched shortly after their motivation appears. Content can be authored while an initial design is constructed and the site is launched. From there on it will go through endless changes – some minor and some major. Often times neither the site owner or her visitors will even notice that the site is “changing” – it becomes a natural quality of the website.
Opening the door to Open Source
Through my experience of WordPress I have gained insight into the potential of Open Source. I have since come to know and use additional open-source tools (from WordPress Plugins through to additional applications which support other needs I have encountered). I have great respect for both the people who initiate open source projects that motivate others to join them, and to the others who dedicate their time in joining these projects. I hope to one day be counted amongst these people.
Large business corporations have shaped an image of the world wide web. They foster ideas of a global village, borderless communication, social interaction, user generated content and the list of buzz words and slogans goes on and on. The only thing that is not mentioned is the motivation – it’s all about business – making money. Sometimes I feel that they are so blinded by this motivation that they do not see how it is one of the core obstacles in achieving their own objectives.
WordPress is open-source. The real key, as I understand it, to Open Source lies deeper then the fact that it is free. Open Source licensing means that you are free to use and change the code it as long as you take measures to make sure that it continues to stay free for other to use. You are required to uphold it’s freedom – not doing so is the most major license violation there is. All the satellite wordpress tools and services that do charge money are very low-prices – so that they continue to be affordable to all. WordPress (and other open source projects) is about giving. I don’t have any concrete information to support my belief that WordPress (and other open source projects) are a profitable business. Actually I don’t really care for such proofs – since I believe that even if it’s not yet – it is just a matter of time.
In my involvement with WordPress I have realized that this safe-guard of giving has taken an interesting turn. I only get involved in WordPress sites with people in whom I take personal interest – people who I want to support. Sometimes I do it for free, sometimes there is some kind of exchange involved (this is how a first art piece appeared in my home) and sometimes (though rarely) some kind of symbolic payment will be involved. Though at first I was tempted to make money by building wordpress sites – I chose not to. I realized that when I approach a website project with a state of mind of giving it is bound to succeed – the person for whom I am building it (client just doesn’t sound right) appreciates the limitations of both the tools and my abilities – they appreciate what can be done. Alternately a website project based on payment leads to expectations and a conflict of interest – me wanting to keep the work hours reasonable and the client pushing to get the most out of my time (not to mention the pressures of senseless deadlines). The giving qualities of WordPress not only enable me to help others but they seem to keep me out of harms way.
If you’ve ever helped someone build a website then you know the wonderful sensation of gratitude and appreciation involved when it’s done with a sense of giving. Then I realize how this ripple moves further into the world as a new website enables it’s owner to reach out touch many other people – this time with my hand in it. I realize and appreciate that what I feel is the karma of giving rippling out from the motivations, inspiration and beliefs of the wordpress developers and community as they reach out through me.
WordPress is a true instrument of Karma.