May 22, 2013

'We're All Publishers Now' - Matt Mullenweg on Blogging

Thanks to the endless reaches of the internet 'we're all publishers now'.

What do I mean by this? Well, think about it. If you wanted to publish you're own written words and reach an audience you would have to produce pamphlets and thus employ the labour of a printer and his printing press. A costly business!

Nowadays if you want to publish your own words and reach a large office all you have to do is set up a blog on one of the many blogging platforms and start writing. This, being blogger, is a good example of a now ubiquitous open source blogging platform. Loved for it's beautiful and efficient simplicity.

Another big favorite is WordPress, the child of American software engineer Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt). WordPress can count 16% of the web as users of it's open source blogging infrastructure, that's nearly 66 million sites in the world; and even more impressively, 52% of the world's top 100 blogs run on WordPress.

Somewhat naturally Matt was named by Forbes Magazine as one of its '30 Under 30'. Here's what they said of him:
'He changed blogging with open source platform WordPress, then founded Automattic, provider of blogs.'
Any way what's important to me is what Matt had to say on blogging and the liberalising forces for good that the new form has unleashed on the world. At the Davos World Economic Forum Matt spoke of how blogging and the internet has allowed the underdog to triumph. Here he is:
The common thread that kept coming up at a dinner, and discussions centred around the idea of “online power”, was equality of access. Before the widespread rise of the Internet and easy publishing tools, influence was largely in the hands of those who could reach the widest audience, the people with printing presses or access to a wide audience on television or radio, all one-way mediums that concentrated power in the hands of the few. 
Now an audience of more than 1 billion people is only a click away from every voice online, and remarkable stories and content can gain flash audiences as people share via social networks, blogs and e-mail. This radically equalizes the power relationship between, say, a blogger, and a multibillion dollar corporation. 
I heard stories of companies such as Dell shifting the direction of their products in response to online outcry started by a single blog post, authors who have millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook and able to speak to their audiences directly for the first time, a Twitter hashtag (#f***washington) becoming a rallying cry for hundreds of thousands of frustrated citizens, and how a blackout of Wikipedia to protest proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation overloaded phone systems in Congress. 
I shared how a community of volunteers around the world collaborated on Open Source software (WordPress) that eventually overtook all its proprietary competitors.
All of these stories shared a David and Goliath character – a seemingly unmovable force swayed by a single voice that quickly multiplies online, but they also gave me pause. 
We spoke about this multiplying of online voices being used for things we’d all generally agree were “good”, but that was probably largely a function of the people sharing the stories and our similar world views. You could easily imagine a viral story spreading online with malicious intent, and just as many if not more examples of untrue rumours spreading at the speed of Twitter. One table shared a fictional account of a world where online voting was ubiquitous in a country, but it had the unintended side-effect of making voter coercion easier because you could see how someone voted. 
There is no moderator or ombudsman online, and while the transparency of the web usually means that information is self-correcting, we still have to keep in mind the responsibility each of us carries when the power of the press is at our fingertips and in our pockets. 
I am an optimist, and I believe that people are inherently good and that if you give everyone a voice and freedom of expression, the truth and the good will outweigh the bad. So, on the whole, I think the power that online distribution confers is a positive thing for society. Online we can act as a fifth estate.

You can read the original on his blog here or on the Davos blog here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...