I'd like to propose a "session" for WordCamp LA '16. It's not exactly a talk, it's not exactly the WordCamp Happiness Bar. It's sort of a mashup of a talk and the Happiness Bar. It's a "session," perhaps an hour during lunch on Saturday, or some other time or framework that makes sense.
Will the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into creating compelling WordPress websites last as long as the car we're currently driving? Or not? And what to do about it.
I gave a talk at WCLAX '15: Sustainable WordPress, where I explored these ideas. The talk notes are here:
Here's a video of the talk from WordPress TV:
In the year since I gave that talk I've become convinced that sustainability is the elephant in the WordPress room. The beautiful work we're doing and powerful ideas we're sharing have a good chance of going down before your car does. Of going down long before a paper book would. The robust WordPress platform seems likely to be around for a long time to come, but what about our individual sites of creativity? How will they be maintained? Or is today's creativity just another one of tomorrow's dead links? When you consider that digital creativity can, and at least sometimes should, be preserved forever, this situation is crazy!
I presume that the majority of WordCamp attendees are thinking about business websites. These sites are an easier case. As long as the corporation lives, there will be budget and personnel to maintain their websites. If the corporation should ever cease, presumably the site can come down.
WCLAX '15. Image: Klear
Knowledge is Freedom
Even if non-commercial work is the minority use case, I still can't believe that from Richard Stallman, to Tim Berners-Lee, to Matt Mullenweg, and a zillion contributors in between, that great Open Source projects like GNU/Linux, The World Wide Web, and WordPress, were created only to sell widgets.
The widgets are good!
I love that people can leverage these powerful tools and platforms to meet needs and earn a living. But I also believe that these tools exist to empower people. To educate. To share. To inform. To enlighten. To document. To preserve. To give as much freedom to as many people as possible.
If the creativity, new ideas, and cultural critiques, that we scribble out today, are gone tomorrow, then I think we have truly cheated ourselves and our progeny.
I don't have all the answers. Or any of them! Which is what makes the remarkable gathering of diverse users, of smart developers, of vendors, including lots of great hosting providers, seems like an ideal environment to have a conversation about WordPress Sustainability.
- Can we have a conversation about what the challenges are?
- Can we come up with solutions for different use cases?
How about an hour, more or less, sometime during WordCamp? A table, maybe out in the breezeway, or in one of the lunch / break rooms. Maybe a nice sign. A way to gather people who might be interested in a conversation and see what we can come up with.
What do you think!?
WCLAX '16 logo by WordCamp Los Angeles 2016