“We’ve reached Phase Three: Today we’re Filtering the News”

July 23, 2008 • Digital News • by

Il Giornale, June 15, 2008
When I say “blog,” I think of Matt Mullenweg. Then I met him in Milan during “Wordcamp,” an event organized by Italian Internet visionary Paolo Valenti, and thought I had the wrong person in front of me. The man who created WordPress, the world-famous publishing platform for bloggers, and who was recently named the 16th most important Web entrepreneur, is a young man of 24 years who seems like most of his American peers: honest-looking, simple-mannered and wearing a shirt that hangs casually over his pants. He doesn’t make a big fuss about himself, yet still has some extremely good ideas, as he demonstrates during this interview for Il Giornale.

What will the future bring for the Internet?We will see the total democratization of the Web, which will allow Internet users to access all web offers without any restrictions, and to use all available programs well in line with the Open Source philosophy.

The same philosophy you adopted yourself, when you turned blogs into something very easy to use?

Exactly,  blogs have a practically unlimited potential for improvement, as a matter of fact. Up to now, they have been primarily based on texts and pictures, but they are bound to take the next step towards becoming truly multimedia. Which will also have some serious implications for all journalists.

In what way?

We will see a diversification of the kinds of news that are offered and the way they are used. In other words, people will specifically search for certain topics, as well as for certain news providers. Already today, the youth tends to select their news through their personalized search engines. For example, they arrive on the website of the New York Times if, and only if, their web search brought them there. Because they no longer log on a website routinely, like Nytimes.com. So far, we’ve seen three phases, three different ways in which blogs have been used: first, they were a tool for writing; then they became a tool for interacting; and today, more and more, they are becoming a tool for filtering and personalizing the vast amount of information that is out there on the Web.

You say that everything will be for free, including the use of computer programs. But how could you ever take on giants such as Microsoft?

Obviously, they reject this idea because they make a lot of money selling Windows and Office. However, they won’t be able to oppose a trend that is about to become a global one. Today’s motto should be: small is beautiful.

Does this mean that you don’t plan to turn your company into one of the giants?

I certainly don’t. I’m earning already enough as it is, and I wouldn’t even know what to do with them if some huge riches should come my way… More importantly, big companies can no longer afford to be truly creative. They simply have too many external ties and obligations: towards shareholders, investors and all the sellers of their products. Getting too big means losing your freedom.

So a company’s talent has to be given free reins…

Yes, indeed. Our company consists of 18 employees who work together mainly through the Internet, with only two personal meetings scheduled per year. If you want to compete with giants like Microsoft you must not behave as they do. Instead, you have to follow a different track, staying independent and therefore free of all those commitments that usually tie you down. Otherwise you’ll be taken hostage as soon as the first problem arises.

What’s your business philosophy?

You need a team of co-workers who enjoy what they do and hence never become tired of it. You should think about others and offer them your know-how for free, and you have to have faith in solidarity. It was passionate fans of WordPress, for example, who were willing to translate it into dozens of different languages. Today, two-thirds of our traffic is generated outside of the US.

And how can you still turn a profit?

By offering professional services in exchange of a fee, for example website hosting or anti-spam-services, and a host of others which we are busy developing at the moment. We will go on like this forever!

Translation: Oliver Heinemann
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