I’ve seen some of Matt’s WordCamp lectures in the past and what he shared in WordCamp Kansai 2014 is something I have not heard of before.
This was my first WordCamp and I am glad to speak to him prior to his speech. Of course everyone knows him, but meeting him in person is really different. He showed us something we do not see in wordpress.tv videos.
Meeting Matt in Person Versus WordPress.tv
After some exchange of cards, he saw my name and realized that I’m not from Japan. Without questions asked, he just knew what I’ve been doing with this company…
“I’m glad that DigitalCube is going to get known to English-speaking countries. I’m proud of what you’re doing for them and for WordPress… and thank you for that.”
After mentioning my recent arrival Japan a few weeks ago, we just spoke about travel, and even had a good laugh about these cool things in Japan that we don’t have in our countries. Such as Japanese washing machine and toilets, and he had the same experience also. He is a very cool guy, it feels like you’ve known him for quite some time.
“Blogging opened my eyes,” he said. Photomatt is his first blog. He started with Movable Type and he find it to be hard and slow so he looked for something easy and discovered B2 Cafe, which he find to be “so much fun.” And when he does not know anything, he would go to forums and ask around.
“I knew very little, but there were people who knew less, so I could help them a little. Teaching and helping other people is the best way to learn.”
So he started writing codes for B2. His first code was to make typography better. Imagine hundreds of sites are running because of the code he wrote. Impressive!
Talking About GPL
According to Matt, GPL (General Public License) “is not only important, but it’s also a software security.”
Matt’s First Love
Matt talks about GPL’s Four Freedoms in his own words:
- Software used for any purpose
- Ability how software works
- Ability to modify software
- Ability to distribute
He find it to be the “first moral way of creating a software.”
“Everything was going well and tragedy struck.” The lead developer of B2, Michelle, disappeared. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen to the software and when I didn’t know what to do, I write a blog post.”
He thought that it would be great to get all the great stuff about software, like:
The simplicity of ‘blogger’
Extensibility of ‘movable type’
Hackability of ‘B2’
Fake it ‘Til You Make It
Mike and Matt never met before, but they worked together from across the ocean. They came up with the “Famous 5-Minute Install.”
However, it wasn’t famous and no one knew it. “We call it ‘famous’ so people will think ‘it might be,’ so it started to be.”
In college, Matt said he did not really pay attention to classes, but he like T.S. Elliot’s poetry. He was amazed with T.S. Elliot’s poetry because he would write something short as one line, but that 1 line could have endless paragraphs of meanings.
Code is Poetry.
“If you approach it as a craftsman, it can be beautiful as well.”
Matt played the saxophone and he likes jazz, and so the idea behind this is to honor the past. “Jazz was way cooler than developers. So we try to be cool by association.” Therefore, WordPress releases are named after Jazz musicians.
“We try to attract people to join the project and a lot of people began to get stuck. Everybody wants feature in the software, but there was no room, so we created the plugin system.”
“Another important thing came from Japan.”
“Another important thing came from Japan. There was no way to translate it, but someone translated all the codes and modified it to be Japanese.
There was something so familiar about it and Japanese characters look beautiful. So I thought, this guy is crazy!”
“Maybe there’s something to this WordPress thing.”
“Maybe it could be bigger than one software and we defined the mission of WordPress: to ‘democratize publishing’ so…
…everyone in the world, no matter how much money they have, wherever they are, whatever their language is, this would be the platform to give them a voice.”
“I’m a big believer in non-profits and that they can do bigger things as well as business companies that use WordPress.”
“If you use WordPress at that time, you have to be ‘technical,’ so we created the 1-click install to make it easier for everyone, so you can start a blog easily. This is faster than the Famous 5-Minute Install.”
“We started Automattic and someone said, ‘you cannot run an open-source company,’ but we prove them wrong.”
Work from Home
Working from home may not be for everybody, but some people enjoy it and I am one of them. After quitting one of my many jobs in January 2014, I experienced a massive freedom working from home (as a writer).
I wake up when I want, I work when I want. I take as much holidays as I want and I take as much coffee breaks as I want. I don’t even need to wear shoes at all. Imagine how working can be this much fun! I deeply agree to what Matt said,
“We want to focus on the output, not the input. It’s about the professionalism of your work, and not your clothes.”
The Future of WordPress
Matt talked about the 4.0 version. He is glad that WordPress is becoming more and more known to all corners of the globe, including WordPress in Asia.
“We passed milestones a few months ago. This is a historical moment because most of the world don’t speak English.”
So this is going to be very exciting for Asia because “I am going through Asia to focus more on this market,” Matt says.
Just like this photo, Matt has this positive aura that lights up the whole room, and I found him to be very sweet. You can feel a sense of humility and calmness in him.
It was an honor meeting him and despite of hundreds of adjectives, there isn’t just one word to describe Matt. You have to meet this guy and see for yourself. It’s like talking to an old friend.