Industry Leaders

Goose-down Nape

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

There was a beautiful poem by Kayo Chingonyi in the New York Magazine this week titled The Nod: When we’re strangers that pass each otherin the street, it will come down to this tiltof the head — acknowledging anotherversion of events set in a new-buildyears from now, a mess of a place filledwith books and records, our kids thick as thievesredefining all notions of mischief. Perhaps our paths will cross in a cityof seven hills as the light draws your faceout from the bliss of anonymity.Maybe you’ll be stroking the goose-down napeof a small child with eyes the exact shadeof those I met across a room at the startof this pain-in-the-heart, this febrile dance. When I hear "seven hills" my mind immediately goes to Rome, then San Francisco, but Wikipedia has a helpful list of cities that claim to be built on seven hills. A friend pointed out The Nod is a fine complement to The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Some terrible personal news

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

Cindy Cutts, my wife and best friend, passed away earlier this week. While I was traveling for work recently, Cindy went to visit her family in Omaha, Nebraska. On Sunday, while enjoying time with family, Cindy started having trouble breathing. Her family quickly called 911 and paramedics took Cindy to the hospital, but Cindy lost and never regained consciousness. She passed away on Monday. Cindy didn’t want any callouts on my blog, so I always just referred to her as my wife. But I’d like to tell you something about her. She loved her family and her cats, Emmy and Ozzie. She danced in the Bay Area with a fantastic troop of kick-ass women for years. She ran a half-marathon once and then decided that she never needed to do that again. She sang in show choir in high school and could still rock a karaoke room with an Adele song. She wrestled with anxiety and depression at times, as so many people do. We should all talk about mental health more to lessen the stigma for other people who think they’re alone when they’re not. Cindy enjoyed falling asleep to Parks and Rec. She liked re-reading William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition. Cindy made quilts for her family and crocheted scarves. She kept me healthy and on track and moving in the right direction, and I paid her back with occasional head rubs. Cindy was whip smart, with a particular gift with languages, from French to Chinese. I tackled small details like paperwork and license plates and paying bills, but she was the one who looked at the big picture. Cindy was the person who said “Let’s go try this Google thing for a while.” Cindy and I knew each other for 23 years and we were married for 18 years, which is no small thing. I’m unmanned and unmoored without her. I’m just going to tackle the details in front of me and count on time and family and friends to pull me back on course at some point. If anyone wants to send flowers, the service is at Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler at 7805 W Center Rd in Omaha on Saturday, March 10th, starting at 3pm. For the people who didn’t get to meet her, Cindy looked like a movie star: She loved hanging with her family: She had the best smile and amazing green eyes: And her cat Ozzie adored her as much as I did: Please give your friends or family a hug for me. We never know how much time we have with someone, and sometimes it’s all too short.

No Office Workstyle

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Reed Albergotti has a great article titled Latest Amenity for Startups: No Office. You can put in your email to read I believe but it's behind a paywall otherwise. The Information is a pretty excellent site that alongside (former Automattician) Ben Thompson's Stratechery I recommend subscribing to. Here are some quotes from the parts of the article that quote me or talk about Automattic: So it’s no coincidence that one of the first companies to operate with a distributed workforce has roots in the open source movement. Automattic, the company behind open source software tools like WordPress, was founded in 2005 and has always allowed its employees to work from anywhere. The company’s 680 employees are based in 63 countries and speak 79 languages. Last year, it closed its San Francisco office, a converted warehouse — because so few employees were using it. It still has a few coworking spaces scattered around the globe. Matt Mullenweg, Automattic’s founder and CEO, said that when the company first started, its employees communicated via IRC, an early form of instant messaging. Now it uses a whole host of software that’s tailor-made for remote work, and as the technology evolves, Automattic adopts what they need. Mr. Mullenweg said Automattic only started having regular meetings, for instance, after it started using Zoom, a video conferencing tool that works even on slow internet connections. He’s become a proponent of office-less companies and shares what he’s learned with other founders who are attempting it. Mr. Mullenweg said he believes the distributed approach has led to employees who are even more loyal to the company and that his employees especially appreciate that they don’t need to spend a chunk of their day on a commute. “Our retention is off the charts,” he said. And: “Where it goes wrong is if they don’t have a strong network outside of work—they can become isolated and fall into bad habits,” Mr. Mullenweg said. He said he encourages employees to join groups, play sports and have friends outside of work. That kind of thing wouldn’t be a risk at big tech companies, where employees are encouraged to socialize and spend a lot of time with colleagues. But for those who ask him about the negatives, Mr. Mullenweg offers anecdotal proof of a workaround. For example, he said he has 14 employees in Seattle who wanted to beat the isolation by meeting up for work once a week. So they found a local bar that didn’t open until 5 p.m., pooled together the $250 per month co-working stipends that Automattic provides and convinced the bar’s owner to let them rent out the place every Friday. They didn't need to pool all their co-working allowance to get the bar, I recall it was pretty cheap! Finally: For Automattic, flying 700 employees to places like Whistler, British Columbia or Orlando, Florida, has turned into a seven-figure expense. “I used to joke that we save it on office space and blow it on travel. But the reality is that in-person is really important. That’s a worthwhile investment,” Mr. Mullenweg said.It might take a while, but some people are convinced that a distributed workforce is the way of the future. “Facebook is never going to work like this. Google is never going to work like this. But whatever replaces them will look more like a distributed company than a centralized one,” Mr. Mullenweg said.

National Magazine Award Nomination

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Longreads was nominated today for its first-ever National Magazine Award, in the category of columns and commentary, alongside ESPN The Magazine, BuzzFeed News, Pitchfork, and New York magazine. Laurie Penny's Longreads columns explore important questions of consent and female desire that have strongly resonated in our current moment. In addition to this nomination, Penny's columns have been translated and republished in Italian and German newspapers, and will be collected in a forthcoming book.

Talking to Mr. Money Mustache about the US Digital Service

Matt Cutts Blog (Head of Google's Webspam Team) -

Last week, I passed my one year anniversary as head of the US Digital Service (USDS). So when Mr. Money Mustache asked for an interview, I was delighted to talk about some of the work that the USDS does. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Money Mustache, he writes about a philosophy of badassity in which people make better life choices like biking to work or saving a higher percentage of their paychecks. I remember discovering Mr. Money Mustache and immediately reading through most of his site, so it was a pleasure to do an interview with him. And if you haven’t heard of the US Digital Service before, this interview is a good chance to find out more. The US Digital Service is still here, still working on projects that matter, and we’re hiring.

R.I.P Dean

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Dean Allen, a web pioneer and good man, has passed away. I've been processing the news for a few days and still don't know where to begin. Dean was a writer, who wrote the software he wrote on. His websites were crafted, designed, and typeset so well you would have visited them even if they were filled with Lorem Ipsum, and paired with his writing you were drawn into an impossibly rich world. His blog was called Textism, and among many other things it introduced me to the art of typography. Later, he created Textpattern, without which WordPress wouldn't exist. Later, he created Textdrive with Jason Hoffman, without which WordPress wouldn't have found an early business model or had a home on the web. He brought a care and craft to everything he touched that inspires me to this day. As John Gruber said, "Dean strove for perfection and often achieved it." (Aside: Making typography better on the web led John Gruber to release Smarty Pants, Dean a tool called Textile, and myself something called Texturize all within a few months of each other; John continued his work and created Markdown, I put Texturize into WP, and Dean released Textile in Textpattern.) Years later, we became friends and shared many trips, walks, drinks, and meals together, often with Hanni and Om. (When we overlapped in Vancouver he immediately texted "I'll show you some butt-kicking food and drink.") His zest for life was matched with an encyclopedic knowledge of culture and voracious reading (and later podcast listening) habits. I learned so much in our time together, a web inspiration who turned for me into a real-life mensch. He was endlessly generous with his time and counsel in design, prose, and fashion. I learned the impossibly clever sentences he wrote, that you assumed were the product of a small writing crew or at least a few revisions, came annoyingly easily to him, an extension of how he actually thought and wrote and the culmination of a lifetime of telling stories and connecting to the human psyche. Dean, who (of course) was also a great photographer, didn't love having his own photo taken but would occasionally tolerate me when I pointed a camera at him and Om has a number of the photos on his post. There's one that haunts me: before getting BBQ we were at his friend's apartment in Vancouver, listening to Mingus and enjoying hand-crafted old fashioneds with antique bitters, and despite the rain we went on the roof to see the art that was visible from there. He obliged to a photo this time though and we took photos of each other individually in front of a sign that said "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT." It wasn't, but it's what I imagine Dean would say right now if he could. When we first met, in 2006, from Jason.

Thirty-Four

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

I am very thankful and grateful to have made it through the past year, which was a really special one personally and professionally. I learned to open myself up more to relationships, continued aspiring to be clear and direct with yellow arrows, and worked alongside some incredible people to tackle the biggest and hardest problems, whether it was getting plugin and theme support on WP.com or the start and growth of Gutenberg. I read a lot more books, traveled 337k miles between 91 cities, spent more time in Texas, kept my health in a good balance with weight training, running, and a better diet including several months of 16/8 intermittent fasting, while still getting in some excellent meals with friends and loved ones (up to 58% of top 50 list). As I'm solidly in my mid-thirties now, and I want to continue to live by: all things in moderation. I consider what I do with WordPress and Automattic my life's work, and hope to continue it as long as I'm useful. Some days I pinch myself. Thank you to all of you on this journey with me. I am imperfect but trying my darndest, and I'm lucky to have friends and colleagues doing the same. Previously: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33.

Ariel Levy in Longreads

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

I had originally planned last year to write a review of each book as I read it, but The Rules Do Not Apply threw a spanner in the works. I had no idea how to write about it, much less review it. The author, Ariel Levy, has a great interview in Longreads from when the book came out. Speaking of Longreads, don't forget to check out their top 25 exclusives from 2017, and their number 1 picks overall. Some amazing writing in there.

Xerox Alto Zero-Day

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Next to the very real news of the Spectre and Meltdown CPU issues, it was lovely to come across Ken Shirriff's story of getting past password protection on some old Xerox Alta disk packs from the 1970s. As further proof for why 2018 is going to be the year of blogging, two of the comments are from people who actually know about the old disks! "I designed chips at PARC as a summer intern. You have a couple of disks from Doug Fairbairn, who was also in Lynn Conway's group." and I'm flabbergasted. That's my Alto disk you broke into!The APL stuff is surely related to some work I did with Leo Guibas, showing why lazy evaluation would be a really good idea for implementing APL: see Compilation and delayed evaluation in APL, published January 1978. (That paper gives me an enviable Erdős number of 3, since Leo is a 2.) I'm sure it's not a complete APL implementation, just a proof of concept. It happens that my very first part-time job at PARC, in 1973, involved writing decision analysis software in APL — on a timesharing system!Given the AATFDAFD hint, I'd guess the real password is ADDATADFAD. This derives from a project I did with Jef Raskin at UCSD in 1974. (He mentioned it in this interview.) The Data General Nova we were working with produced some garbled message with ADDATADFAD where it should have said ADDITIONAL, and it was a running joke ever after. Strange, the things that occupy some brain cells for over 40 years.Thanks for an amusing blast from the past.— Doug Wyatt (Xerox PARC 1973-1994)

Books in 2017

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Here's what I ended up reading this year, in roughly chronological finishing order. (I usually have 3-4 books going on at once.) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. The Art of Stillness by Pico Ayer. Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts (audiobook, really a series of lectures). Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Mushashi (audiobook). Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. The Best American Short Stories 2016 edited by Junot Diaz. Feynman by Jim Ottaviani. My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik. From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author by Louis Markos (another lecture series). The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History's Unknown Chapters by Giles Milton. Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement. 32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert. Identify: Basic Principles of Identity Design in the Iconic Trademarks by Chermayeff & Geismar. Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch (audiobook). The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone. The Leavers by Lisa Ko. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. The Executive's Compass by James O'Toole. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Dance of the Possible by Scott Berkun. The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (short story). Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley by Rob Reid. Principles by Ray Dalio. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audiobook). The Undiscovered Self: With Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams by C.G. Jung. A fairly random selection, and hopefully I can get a few more in next year.

NORAD’s Santa Tracker

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

Politico has a lovely story on the history and present of the NORAD Santa Tracker, which started because a 1955 Sears department store ad had “a digit wrong — and was instead the direct line into the secret military nerve center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the Pentagon was on the lookout to prevent nuclear war.”

Post-Verbal Language

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

James Beshara has a really interesting read on how communication will change and evolve in a post-verbal world, namely one where human/brain interfaces like Neuralink can more directly transmit thought between people than the medium of language allows today. After reading the essay I wonder if people's thoughts or the neural pathways they activate, if they could be directly transmitted into another brain, would actually make any sense to someone else with a unique internal set of pathways and framework for parsing and understanding the world. The essay assumes we'd understand and have more empathy with each other, but that seems like a leap. It seems likely the neural link would need it own set of abstractions, perhaps even unique per person, similar to how Google Translate AI invented its own meta-language. Today idea-viruses that cause outrage (outrageous?) in today's discourse  have been weaponized by algorithms optimizing for engagement, and directly brain-transmitted memes seem especially risky for appealing to our base natures or causing amygdala hijack. But perhaps a feature of these neural interface devices could counteract that, with a command like "tell me this piece of news but suppress my confirmation bias and tribal emotional reactions while I'm taking it in."

iPhone Fast Charging

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

I love USB, cables, and charging things. So MacRumors comparison of different wired and wireless charging options and speed for the iPhone X is my catnip. tl; dr: USB-C + USB-C-to-Lightning cable gives you far and away the fastest times. I've found this true for the iPad Pro as well.

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