You may have heard of Matt Mullenweg – he co-founded WordPress, and is now the CEO of Automattic, which owns WordPress.com and contributes to WordPress.org (the downloadable version that you install on your own server, like I do).
Matt, like me, is turning 40 this year. And, as a ‘birthday gift’, he has asked people to blog. About anything.
Having only recently returned to blogging regularly, I’m starting to enjoy it again. With the rise of the Fediverse, the web is starting to feel like it did again in blogging’s heyday in the mid-2000s. Whilst some people used centralised sites like Blogger and TypePad back then, you could use tools like WordPress and Movable Type to run your own blog on your own server, and still interact with everyone else. And then the closed gardens of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like came along, and you had to be on those platforms to interact with other users.
Anil Dash has written a piece for Rolling Stone magazine called ‘The Internet is About to Get Weird Again’. And I think he’s right; there’s growing dissatisfaction with these big centralised services and how they hoover up so much personal data to sell to advertisers. Meta’s Threads is dipping its toes into the Fediverse, which would mean that Threads and Mastodon users can follow and interact with each other in a way that hasn’t been possible before. And if it works for Threads, could we see Instagram joining the Fediverse, to connect with PixelFed and maybe even Flickr?
Anil has some further reflections on his own blog. I’m hesitant to say that ‘blogging is back’; after all, there are so many other places that we can share short thoughts where there are audiences. But I feel like it’s having a bit of a renaissance, and in an age where there’s so much AI generated waffle filling up our search engine results, being able to interact with other humans has never been more important. It was what the web was designed for, after all.
So, happy birthday to Matt – and here is your gift from me. I hope that many others will do the same.