Matt Mullenweg – The Story behind WordPress

The last speaker of the Future of Web Applications conference was Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame. Matt’s talk was a nice way to end two days of great presentations. According to Matt, in the future of web applications everybody will have their 15 pixels of fame. Matt also said that, “The luckiest thing I did for wordpress is allow for plugins.” In Matt’s view some open source software projects try to resolve conflicts with more options. In his view, a better way to solve conflicts is by enabling plugins. In addition to conflict resolution, he believes that plugins limits forks. A word of advice regarding plugins is to never break the API they are built upon. Breaking APIs is worse than never having any at all!

“If one thing that I know about the future of web apps is, you will be spammed.” Matt believes that spammers are like cockroaches that will be here long after us. Social software are things that gets spam. To combat spammers, the scourge of the internet, Matt has developed Akismet. Akismet is a learning web service spam filter for blogs. From his experience with WordPress.com and Akismet Matt, like other conference speakers, believe that you need to plan for success. According to Matt, “WordPress.com has been lessons in scaling. … All hosting sucks.” Since hosting sucks you can buy the cheapest hardware available, because you can easily miss utilize expensive hardware with a bad hosting service. The best you can do is hope that your web hosting doesn’t suck all the time.

According to Matt, in Computer Science there are only 3 numbers, 0, 1, and n+1. For you to scale well you need to solve for n+1. Another lesson shared to the audience was that painkillers make mover money than vitamins. People appreciate a service more that solves a pain point, like blog spam. Be a pain killer, not a vitamin!

According to Matt, four points are key for the future of web applications…
* global – 118n, m17n, l10n, multiple language support.
* personal – care about what the individual is interested in.
* useful – useful to the user.
* humble – frame the service in a sense of ‘me’, from the user’s point of view.

Just to wrap up the my coverage of the Future of Web Applications conference I am going to jot down some quotes from Matt…
* If you can’t be the most passionate user of your product, it is going to be hard.
* Overnight success, contrary to popular belief take about 2 to 3 years.
* Don’t feel like the market is saturated, or that everything is done.
* Create value for an x number of user. the x number doesn’t have to be that large anymore.
* Build for yourself first.
* Working for someone else is dead.
* This does not mean working alone.

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