SXSW: A home on the web: the state of blogging in 2013

(This is the second in a series of posts I’m doing to recap the SXSW sessions I attended in return for the free ride from my agency.)

One of the off the beaten track sessions that I saw this week was this conversation with Matt Mullenwig, who invented the open source blogging software that this blog uses before founding a company called Automattic to bring a commercial version to market at WordPress.com.

Given everything that’s gone on in the world of social media, from giant companies launching blogging platforms to the explosion of other ways for people to share online, it was interesting to hear his thoughts on where good old fashioned blogging stands these days.

Especially since I write on one every once in a while.

What I liked about him was that he came across as almost folksy when it comes to Internet start up people. He started making the software because he liked blogging and wanted a better way to do it. I’m not sure how many startups are founded out of love these days. It seems quaint. But it apparently worked, as WordPress is now used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet’s “top 1 million” websites.

He maintains that their growth still mostly comes from word of mouth. People start sharing stuff on Twitter or Tumblr, then decide they want to get serious about it, and they ask a friend what to use.

What I really wanted to here his take on was how blogging fits into this new fangled micro-blogging pin-a-matic world. He actually thinks that social media is giving blogging new life, with most referrals to WordPress blogs now coming from social media. He believes that people want a home base that isn’t cookie cutter. They want their online expression of themselves to look different from everyone else’s. Which is why I have grossly neglected my blog theme. Also, because I mostly don’t know what I’m doing.

He believes Tumblr and WordPress are actually going in different directions. Tumblr is much more about curation while WordPress is about creation. And because of that Tumblr is actually interesting as a distribution mechanism. He see’s them as the start of the funnel…people will move from Tumblr to WordPress while still maintaining a tumblr to post links and photos but still create.

He’s not into advertising, and doesn’t think of WordPress as an ad platform. He thinks that’s what is behind experiences being ruined on other sites. Facebook is now doing everything they can to keep people on the page. WordPress doesn’t have to do that, and because of that, they don’t get in fights with other companies the way that places like Twitter and Facebook do. WordPress is Switzerland. It connects everything.

Moving forward, he mentioned a few tweaks to things like the reading experience and some regrets over the wysiwyg interface not being what it should be. But the biggest thing that he wants to change (and one of his biggest regrets) was making things about numbers. In his mind, a comment from someone you know is worth more than a hundred anonomous likes.

It’ll be interesting to see what that looks like.

Also, it’ll be interesting to see if WordPress swallows any more of my posts. He’s lucky that happened after his panel. It would’ve been a shame for him to have gotten the shoe to forehead treatment.

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SXSW 2013 Session Recaps:

1. The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion
2. A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013

3. What’s So Funny About Innovation
4. Shut Up and Take My Money: Lego Does Crowd Sourcing
5. The Future of Porn (Cindy Gallup)6. Mashable Variety Show
7. The Future of Work8. Miku: The Open-Source Girl Who Conquered the World
9. Angry Nerds: Being Human in the Digital Age
10. Matthew Inman Keynote (The Oatmeal)
11. The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust (Rohit Bhargava)
12. Live WTF with Marc Maron

RIP Google Reader—A Big “Hey Thanks” for Breaking my Internet

qm
(via quickmeme)

I was only going to post this dumb picture in regards to Google shutting down Reader, mostly because I’m supposed to be working. But this news is really bad news for me. It’s been such a part of my workflow for as long as I can remember, and with iPad clients like Mr. Reeder, RSS really hit its stride for me. And that’s what’s going to make it hard to find a replacement. G-reader plugs into the entire internet. Between the IFTTT recipes I have set up and the 15 or so apps that I hook up to it, this is going to make it much harder to spam my friends with articles about quantum physics.  I doubt there’s anything anyone can do about it, but now I have even more reason to hope that Glass is a flop. Jerks.

 

On creation…

“It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.” – Mark Twain

SXSW: The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

I’ve tried to be a little less rapid fire on the social media this year than when at previous events…opting instead to post about what I’ve learned here. Also, as part of the deal for Martin sending me here, I need to prove that I learned something and wasn’t hula hooping shirtless on 6th street with a gut full of booze for 5 days straight.

So now that I’m #sxmyself for the first time in three days, I thought I’d get started with the the first panel I attended on Saturday:

The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

Jennifer Darmour has an awesome job. She spends her time trying to bridge fashion and wearable technology at a company called Artefact and with her own thing called electricfoxy. Which is probably a pretty good place to be playing right now, as Forbes recently dubbed 2013 is the year of the wearable. 

But Jennifer believes we’re still in the brick phone stage of wearables. Right now it’s a lot of single function gadgets that we are bolting on to ourselves. And it looks a little bit cyborgish.

She maintains that we’re entering a new age of technology. One where we move from interacting with our devices to devices that interact with us.

With wearable technology, the body becomes the interface. Not by using old metaphors, like keyboards on pants. But by creating new ways of interacting.

There’s three must haves for wearables to move forward:

  1. Beauty and personalization-clothing and jewelry are incepredinly personal things, so they need to be expressive rather than look like technology. So it needs to be things that people want to wear for the aesthetics as well as the utility.
  2. Meaning from data-As we move through the day, we put off incredible amounts of data exhaust. The trick is how to make it meaningful without people having to try.
  3. Periphery– devices have to learn to communicate in the periphery of experience so we’re able to be present in our world and relationships.

She’s currently working on a Pilates shirt embedded with sensors that know when the fabric is stretching and can therefor sense when the wearer is using bad form.

It satisfies all three must haves

  1. It’s fashionable. It looks like something that could be bought at Lulu Lemon.
  2. It’s meaningful. It uses data to tell if you have bad form, and simply communicates through a haptic response in the shoulder.
  3. Which means its operating in the periphery. The wearer doesn’t have to stop her routine to look at her phone or some other screen to see how she’s doing. If the shirt isn’t rumbling, she’s using good form.

It’s all really interesting to me as I’ve been thinking for a few days about why Google Glass makes me nervous. I sort of want it to fail. But that’s a totally different post for a different day.

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SXSW 2013 Session Recaps:

1. The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion

2. A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013
3. What’s So Funny About Innovation
4. Shut Up and Take My Money: Lego Does Crowd Sourcing
5. The Future of Porn (Cindy Gallup)
6. Mashable Variety Show
7. The Future of Work
8. Miku: The Open-Source Girl Who Conquered the World
9. Angry Nerds: Being Human in the Digital Age
10. Matthew Inman Keynote (The Oatmeal)
11. The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust (Rohit Bhargava)
12. Live WTF with Marc Maron