Visiting 10 Downing (powered by WordPress) with some Web Summit folks and got a few pictures in the entry room. We spoke with Tim Luke, one of the Number 10 policy members focused on business and enterprise. I asked how the UK government thought about cyber security, and he actually thought about it as a growth area because they have a lot of security expertise. Afterward went to East London to visit with the Memrise team at their super-cool office.
Had a cool opportunity to walk up the cable to the top of the the first tower of the Bay Bridge today with folks from the Bay Lights project. You walk right up the cable/pipe to the top, it actually wasn’t that hard. Once on top the vistas were amazing. I tried to grab some photos of the hardware behind the lights at the top of the cables. The top of the tower is 526 feet high, and 280,000 cars drive on the bridge every day, making it the second busiest bridge in the world. Guest photos by Lucas Saugen.
Marissa Mayer announces the new Yahoo hompage, on a WordPress-powered blog.
Creative Market just announced that all of their WordPress Themes are now 100% GPL, meaning to list in their marketplace and reach their users your theme must provide users with the same freedoms that WordPress itself does. They have some great themes already. This is fantastic news and I’m very proud of their team for taking this bold step, and as promised WordPress.org homepage promotion is forthcoming. I think we’ll see more of these down the line, especially as WordPress consumers start demanding 100% GPL from anything they buy.
I was interviewed by Fast Company on How To Have A Virtual Meeting, which they turned into a neat article.
Here’s the post I wrote on a dinner I attended while at Davos for their forum blog: Online we can act as a fifth estate.
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.
I had a really wonderful time at the Forum, it was a really unique experience.