Later today (3:45pm ET) I’ll deliver my annual State of the Word speech, which I’m very excited about. If you’d like to watch remotely, this year live stream tickets are free and you can tune in here.
In the WordPress world, when we look back an 2016 I think we’ll remember it as the year that we awoke to the importance of marketing. WordPress has always grown organically through word of mouth and its passionate community, but the hundreds of millions being spent advertising against WP has started to have an impact, especially for folks only lightly familiar with us.
I’ve started to hear about a number of folks across many WordPress companies and industries working on this from different angles, some approaching it from an enterprise point of view and some from a consumer point of view. There’s an opportunity for learning from each other, almost like a mastermind group. As the survey says:
Never have there been more threats to the open web and WordPress. Over three hundred million dollars has been spent in 2016 advertising proprietary systems, and even more is happening in investment. No one company in the WP world is large enough to fight this, nor should anyone need to do it on their own. We’d like to bring together organizations that would like to contribute to growing WordPress. It will be a small group, and if you or your organization are interested in being a part please fill out the survey below.
By working together we can amplify our efforts to bring open source to a wider audience, and fulfill WordPress’ mission to truly democratize publishing.
If this sounds interesting to you, apply using this survey.
Music videos are themselves an art form, and it’s always interesting to me how an artist chooses to transform the interpretation of their song with the video. I’ve listened to this song since it came out but haven’t seen the video until now, and it will definitely make me listen to it differently. Featuring Kendrick Lamar.
Joseph Rosensteel has an outsider but savvy perspective on the updates and technology around Apple TV. Definitely a worthwhile read. I’ve experienced a lot of this frustration myself — I have a large library of things bought through iTunes, I like the interface of the Apple TV (though I liked the old one a little better), and Airplay is handy, so I want to love the Apple TV. The market is so bad right now that most review sites like Wirecutter recommend Roku, which for me came with a branded remote button for a service that is out of business (Rdio) and has an interface that feels DOS-like.
Anyone who knows me knows that I like to try new things — phones, gadgets, apps. Last week I downloaded the new Wix (closed, proprietary, non-open-sourced, non-GPL) mobile app. I’m always interested to see how others tackle the challenge of building and editing websites from a mobile device.
I started playing around with the editor, and felt… déjà vu. It was familiar. Like I had used it before.
Turns out I had. Because it’s WordPress.
If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team. Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress — including their company name, which used to be Wixpress Ltd. — but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.
This explicitly contravenes the GPL, which requires attribution and a corresponding GPL license on whatever you release publicly built on top of GPL code. The GPL is what has allowed WordPress to flourish, and that let us create this code. Your app’s editor is built with stolen code, so your whole app is now in violation of the license.
I suppose we’ll take this as a compliment — I’m sure the hundreds of people who have contributed to WordPress Core and our mobile apps are flattered that you chose to build one of your company’s core features using our code. We’re also excited to see what great things you create with all the time you saved not having to write your own mobile editor.
You know what’d be even more exciting? To see you abide by the GPL and release your source code back to the community that gave you that jump start.
I’ve always said that the GPL isn’t about limits, it’s about possibilities. In open source software, you trade some of your control as a developer to better serve the developer community and the people using your sites and products. I don’t think that’s a limit, I think it’s a way to make sure we encourage innovation and momentum. If you want to close the door on innovation, Wix, that’s your decision to make — just write your own code. If you’re going to join the open source community, play by the open source rules.
Release your app under the GPL, and put the source code for your app up on GitHub so that we can all build on it, improve it, and learn from it.
Matt and the open source community
The CEO of Wix has posted a response on their blog. I’ll also try to post my response it to the comments there. Miriam Schwab also has a very good response.
We were all very surprised by your post, as you have so many claims against us.
Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting.
It’s not a fight: the claim is that the Wix mobile apps distribute GPL code and aren’t themselves GPL, so they violate the license.
First, you say we have been taking from the open source community without giving back, well, of course, that isn’t true. Here is a list of 224 projects on our public GitHub page, and as you can see they are all dated before your post. We have not checked if WordPress is using them, but you are more than welcome to do so, some of them are pretty good.
Very glad your company has projects on GitHub! Thank you for the offer to use them; if we do, we’ll make sure to follow the license you’ve put on the code very carefully.
Releasing other open source projects doesn’t mean that you can violate the license of the editor code you distributed in your mobile apps. To repeat my earlier points: since you distributed GPL code with your apps, the entire apps need to be released at GPL, not just your modifications to that one library.
As this Hacker News comment put it, “Open source is not a swap meet; you can’t violate a license if you voluntarily release some other code to make up for it.”
We always shared and admired your commitment to give back, which is exactly why we have those 224 open source projects, and thousands more bugs/improvements available to the open source community and we will release the app you saw as well.
If you were to release the entire source code of the apps under GPL that would bring you back into compliance with the license you violated. I think you’re saying you will do that here, but can you clarify? When should we look for the app code to be released, and where? That would resolve this issue completely.
Next, you talk about the Wix App being stolen from WordPress. There are more than 3 million lines of code in the Wix application, notably the hotels/blogs/chat/eCommerce/scheduling/booking is all our code.
I said the app includes stolen code. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 lines or 30 million lines: because it includes GPL code and you distributed the app, the entire thing needs to be GPL. If you release the entire app’s code, as I think you said you would, then that resolves the license violation.
Yes, we did use the WordPress open source library for a minor part of the application (that is the concept of open source right?), and everything we improved there or modified, we submitted back as open source, see here in this link – you should check it out, pretty cool way of using it on mobile native. I really think you guys can use it with your app (and it is open source, so you are welcome to use it for free). And, by the way, the part that we used was in fact developed by another and modified by you.
Thank you for admitting you used the code and not trying to hide it. The issue isn’t the changes you made, it’s that including the editor means you need to submit the entire app as open source, which you have not yet — it’s completely proprietary.
If you want to read the account from Tal Kol, one of the leading engineers on this project, here it is. He was really happy to share his side of the story.
I have seen it, and it already has a number of good comments on it, including this one: “Can you address this point made in Matt’s post: ‘This explicitly contravenes the GPL, which requires attribution and a corresponding GPL license on whatever you release publicly built on top of GPL code’.” It appears you and Tal might share a misunderstanding of how the GPL works — software licensing can be tricky and many people make honest mistakes. (If you want to get into serious detail, this comment lays the licensing requirements out clearly.) It is easy to rectify this one: release your apps as open source under the GPL.
Now, what is this thing about us stealing your branding? Our product was always called Wix and our website Wix.com, we never borrowed from your marketing or brand.
Sorry for including this distraction; I was referring specifically to the fact that Wix used to go by “Wixpress.” You can see this in your Form F-1, and there used to be a support page about this on your site:
Although that is still in Google, the page it links to now mysteriously returns a 404 error, which you may want to look into.
In fact, if I remember correctly, until recently the Automattic home page was all about blogs and only recently it has become “websites.” Also, your business model changed to almost exactly the one we had for years. Can it be that you guys are borrowing from us? If so, again, you are welcome to it.
The Automattic home page has been a series of haiku about our products since 2009, pretty much unchanged — I think you mean the WordPress.com home page here. WordPress has been used for creating websites, not just blogs, since our 1.5 release in 2005 added themes and pages. In my 2014 State of the Word address I talked about how 87% of WordPress sites use it as a CMS. We regularly test dozens of variations of the WP.com homepage and some of them definitely emphasize website creation. I will say we look to Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace as innovators in the space with products that reach many small businesses, and Wix especially should be commended for its success and growth as a public company.
If you believe that we need to give you credit, that you deserve credit, I must say, absolutely yes. You guys deserve a lot of credit, but not because of a few lines of source code, you deserve credit because you guys have been making the internet dramatically better, and for that we at Wix are big fans. We love what you have been trying to do, and are working very hard to add our own contribution to make the internet better.
Thank you very much, that is kind. I do think there are a lot of values we share in common and would love to see this one issue resolved.
If you need source code that we have, and we have not yet released, then, most likely we will be happy to share, you only need to ask. We share your belief that making the internet better, is best for everyone.
That’s what my post was asking, for you to release the code. To quote my original letter: “Release your app under the GPL, and put the source code for your app up on GitHub so that we can all build on it, improve it, and learn from it.”
Finally, during the last couple of years, I reached out a couple of times trying to meet with you. Could I do that again here? I believe in friendly competition, and as much fun as it is to chat over the blogosphere, maybe we can also do it over a cup of coffee?
Once this is resolved I’d be happy to meet up. I believe when we exchanged emails in 2014 there was trouble finding overlap in our travel schedules.
I hope the above clarifies where we think Wix made a mistake, and how to fix it.
You might need a reason to smile today. If so, Kanye’s poem for Frank Ocean’s Boys Don’t Cry zine, illustrated by Dami Lee at the Verge, might be that reason.
This Tiny Desk concert at the White House with Common and some of my favorite musicians Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, and Bilal was incredible.
From Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech in 1986:
And then I explained to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
Wired has a fun and informative look at How to Rig a Presidential Election in 1000 Easy Steps. Basically it’s impossible — I hadn’t really thought of this before, but every precinct has its own officials from both parties that certify everything, there are just a ton of people involved at every step of the process. All that said, I would love if voting platforms were completely open source software and had paper receipts that could be verified manually.
Also speaking of politics getting dirty, the San Francisco State Senate race has had a ton of falsehoods and attacks from Scott Weiner, someone I’ve met before and previously thought was a nice guy, but the latest mailers I’ve seen have just been deceitful (especially considering the Guardian actually endorsed his opponent, Jane Kim).
I went back for a Round 2 answering follow-up questions from Tim’s readers on the Tim Ferriss podcast. About an hour long and covered a wide range of topics. One of these days I need to start podcasting more directly. In the meantime, please give it a listen! Already some great tweets and responses have started to come in.
I’m still catching up with things after the Automattic Grand Meetup, but excited today to be included on the Fortune 40 under 40 list, which I’ve graduated to after being termed out of the under 30 lists. I came in at #20 and it’s great to see lots of friends on the list as well.
In midst of a crazy couple of weeks, some retail therapy and cool finds.
I’m most excited about The Napsack, a sleeping bag which you can also wear as a coat, from a company called Poler that has a lot of fun items, patterns, and colorways.
The Zolt Laptop Charger + Apple Macbook cable add-on is small and handy. The version I got previously from Kickstarter made a weird buzzing, this new model is quiet and works great. If you passed it before, worth trying now.
Snow Peak is an amazing Japanese camping brand. Some of their materials are so soft, and the titanium stuff is super light.
I’m always a sucker for the timelessness and quality of Will Leather Goods, some of their bags and backpacks are looking great these days, especially the Oaxacan line.
I’ve been liking this 3-port USB + USB-C charger from Aukey.
human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words
that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled
among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life.
From The Meadow by Marie Howe.
In March I took a eight day hike in Japan with Dan Rubin and Craig Mod, which was definitely one of the more beautiful journeys I’ve taken, and I couldn’t imagine finer gentlemen to have embarked on it with. We trekked, ate, bathed, had long conversations about life, about our fathers. When I returned to Houston I was able to show my Dad some of the photos and they brought a smile to his face, a rare occurrence those days before he passed.
Dan and Craig are both Leica heads and shot largely on a Leica Q and M Monochrom on the trip. (Bonus points if you can identify Dan’s non-Leica film camera in the above photo.) After I left they camped out in an old house and put together their best work from the trip into what looks like a gorgeous book, which there is now a Kickstarter for.
There are some very cool perks on Kickstarter if you go back the book now, including a few special editions and some photo prints. I’d highly recommend checking it out!
I’m still overwhelmed from last week, which was full of major announcements. Get your Instapaper / Pocket ready because I have lots of links!
It started with a very smooth WordPress release, version 4.6 “Pepper.” A week later it’s had over 4,200,000 downloads and upgrades are rippling throughout the WP ecosystem with 13% of all known installs already on the latest. WordPress 4.6 was available on release day in 50 languages, which blows my mind.
The next big move was John Maeda joining Automattic as our Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion. You can check out some of his talks on TED and his Twitter is always interesting. This was covered fairly well by mainstream media, especially with feature articles by Wired on the open source aspect, Fast Company on the inclusion side, and Techcrunch on the business side.
As often, the best stories are often personal ones: Om is a friend of both John and I, long-time Automattic designer Matt Miklic shared his “I will never stop learning” journey and and how he helped hire for this role, and finally John told his own story directly on Design.blog.
In the beginning days of the Web, Open Source was a human right.
You might notice something about that domain… it’s a .blog! We opened up .blog for early registrations and launched the first few founder domains like get.blog, design.blog, dave.blog, and of course matt.blog. More coming this week!
Design.blog also launched with great essays from Alice Rawsthorn, Cassidy Blackwell, and Jessica Helfand. It will be updated every Thursday with a new home page design and new round of great voices, so bookmark it and be sure to visit again in a few days.
Huge thanks to Judy Wert who led the search for the design role. Combined with Chris Taylor starting as Chief Marketing Officer at Automattic a few months ago I think we’re well-positioned to really boost the growth of WordPress in the coming years. You may have even started to see video ads for WP.com. We’ve had 90 people start so far this year at Automattic bringing our total to just under 500 in 50 countries, if you’d like to join the family we’re hiring for over a dozen roles.
As you can tell, things have been moving at a hundred miles per hour, and the momentum is carrying through the all-company Grand Meetup in Whistler next month and WordCamp US in December. I’m going to take a few days to unplug at Burning Man next week (photos from my first year), might even take a Real Camera to capture some of the art.
The Hydraulic Press Channel on Youtube is pretty much the best thing since, forever.
“Putting a computer in your brain is no longer science fiction.” Pretty awesome work from (WordPress-powered) Bryan Johnson and Theodore Berger, (WP-powered) Kernel.
Many of the world’s finest athletes — from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to American tennis player Serena Williams — publish with WordPress. With the Rio 2016 games upon us, we turn to Olympians, Olympic hopefuls, and elite athletes who have blogged over the past year about the joys and challenges of competition at the highest level and the long road to Rio.
Fascinating round-up of some of the trials and tribulations making it to the Olympics.
The first-party premier Simplenote native apps for Android, iOS, and macOS are now fully open source. I’m very proud of the team for this, and excited that the broader Simplenote community can now see behind the scenes of how things are developing with the app, which remains one of my personal favorites across every platform. What’s Simplenote? It’s the easiest way to have your plain text notes synced instantly across every device and browser you use.
Techdirt asks: Why Is The Copyright Office Lying To Protect The Cable Industry’s Monopoly Stranglehold Over The Cable Box?