WordPress: 10 years of a free press

There have been some great Anglo-American partnerships. This “Special Relationship” has served both nations well especially in times of crisis. With strong leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt these two great nations have pulled together to fight for a “free” world.

Ten years ago today, a young Texan and a chap from Stockport made the world even freer. They forked b2/cafelog which became WordPress. A personal blogging platform which has now since become the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS). It now powers over 60 million websites. Both gentlemen have not received a penny or a dime from the software itself. Their genius was to release it with GPL licensing. “Free as in speech vs. free as in beer.” The GPL is free as in speech.

This freedom means that anyone can use this software to power their blog, website or CMS. UK prime ministers have used it alongside The New York Times, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Stephen Fry, Jane Fonda and many other notable users. You don’t even have to be rich or famous to use it. This freedom extends to all parts of the globe. Helping modern day freedom fighters tell their story, helping redress the balance in oppressive regimes or help individuals and groups raise money for their favourite cause or charity. It even helps multi-national companies expand their enterprise.

Freedom doesn’t mean you can’t make money by using WordPress, far from it. Matt Mullenweg is now worth millions and while not steering the Automattic ship he is living a rockstar-esque lifestyle or maybe Matt would prefer “Jazz Star”. His fondness of jazz music is demonstrated in the release names of WordPress and also can be found in his Hello Dolly plugin which comes installed on every new WordPress build. Automattic, the company he created helps people and companies publish their sites. Using WordPress, naturally, but some of their services do come at a pretty price. And why not?

A lot of people will know of Matt. Not quite so many may have heard of Mike Little. He is in many ways the unsung hero of WordPress. I don’t think you’ll find Mike hanging out in F1 pit lanes. But you could attend one of his WordPress classes or ask for advice as to why your plugin is crashing at a UK WordCamp. This WordPress genius is very approachable and also very humble. Mike now runs zed1.com, a web development and consultancy company, which specialises in WordPress, naturally.

I first started using WordPress in 2004/5 and first met Matt and Mike at WordCamp in Cardiff in 2009. Both are incredibly nice. Both are incredibly passionate about WordPress. Both have between them helped add another layer of freedom on the world. Both have helped create software that can empower. If they had tried to do it all by themselves they would have probably failed. But by embracing open source and the GNU GPL, many others have helped improve it. This freedom also means anyone else can fork it too, if they wanted.

Happy Birthday WordPress! Many happy returns. Let’s raise our glasses and toast Mike and Matt and everyone else that helps make WordPress such a beautiful thing.

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