WP Briefing: Episode 18: The Economics of WordPress

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 18-10-2021

In episode 18 of WP Briefing, Josepha Haden Chomphosy reflects on a recent lecture that she gave to students at Hendrix College in which she explored the economics of WordPress and the principles that sustain the project’s ecosystem.

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

References

WordPress Showcase

The Value of WordPress: The World’s First Study of the WordPress Economy

Five for the Future

Becoming Better Digitial Citizens Through Open Source

WordPress 5.9 Feature Go/No-Go

Transcript

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:11

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy. Here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:40

So today marks the start of Digital Citizenship week. This year in 2021, it is the week of October 18th, and to kick it off, I want to share with you a bit of a lecture that I gave to a college class last week. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:55

An economics professor teaches this class. And so, a little bit, I went to talk about how WordPress is essentially a microcosm of global societies. That was mostly why I was invited to come and give the talk. But one of the students asked a really interesting question about economics, and especially the economics of WordPress. And so, I’m going to take some time to do my best to answer that question here as well. But first, we’re going to start with some big picture information about WordPress that I shared with the students, and then maybe you also don’t necessarily know. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:00

So the first place that we started was with the question of what WordPress is. Most of them had heard of it but didn’t necessarily have a good handle on what it is. And so this is the definition that I gave to them. This is a bit of each of the facets of WordPress that we kind of see right now. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:57

Firstly, WordPress is, of course, a content management system, which means it’s a piece of software that uses a copyleft license, which means that it’s open source, and no one individual necessarily owns the rights to the code. If you get very specific, WordPress is, of course, a FOSS project or a free and open source software project. I know that there are discussions around when a piece of software is free, then what are you using to pay for that piece of software or to pay for your access to that software? And often, the answer is that you’re using your personally identifying information to pay for something commonly referred to as the data economy. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a little bit of a three-pronged effort there. So you submit your data to get access to the software, or you can join the platform, depending on what it is that you’re working with. That platform or that software collects your data so that they can build a profile about what sorts of content engages you and so that they can share, essentially, audience cohorts like groups of people that kind of are talking about what you’re talking about, agree with what you agree about, and find interesting, the same sorts of things that you find interesting. And then those companies sell access to your attention. This is something that I refer to as the attention economy. I think there are a lot of startups at the moment that refers to the attention economy. The most iconic recent example was when the folks over at Netflix said that they weren’t competing against other streaming services; they were competing against sleep.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:54

And I think that might ring true for quite a few of us at the moment. But anyway, to scoot us back one level, I had, as I said, WordPress is free software. But the difference with WordPress is that to get a copy of WordPress, you are not necessarily required to hand over any data. You don’t need to give anyone data to get a copy. You don’t need to give anyone money or data to open up a copy that you own or to build a website in it if you’re just doing it locally, but especially around that data side because WordPress is not collecting any data, we’re also not brokering access to anyone’s attention.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:37

Another answer to the question of “What is WordPress?” WordPress software and the project enable nearly half a trillion dollars of revenue in the global digital economy, as we learned from a recent study from one of the hosting companies inside the WordPress project  – oh, Inside the WordPress ecosystem anyway. And WordPress also runs 42% of the web, with some of the biggest sites we know using WordPress. Such sites like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, many, many others, which you can see in the WordPress showcase as well. I don’t necessarily want to just like call out all the big groups that use it. But it’s a lot.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:22

 To recap what we just learned about WordPress and what WordPress is. It is software that one uses a copyleft license, meaning no single entity owns it. Two, it is available at no cost, meaning no money changes hands for you to own a copy. Three does not track you, which means that you don’t have to give WordPress any personally identifying information to get a copy. Four is an enabler of a massive digital economy massive portion of the digital economy even. That, you know, means their services, extensions, themes, plugins, all of that stuff. And five, it is software that supports 42% of the web. Practically every other site you visit uses the software. So that’s WordPress.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:10

With this massive free software, you might be thinking to yourself a couple of things. The first thing you might be thinking is, “Well, that sounds impossible.” But if that’s not what you’re thinking, you may be thinking, “how is it possible that a software that is technically owned by no one and takes no money or data to obtain –  how is it that a software like that can power 42% of the web.” This brings me, of course, to a topic that I specialize in, which is how WordPress is made. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:45

WordPress is, by now you know, built by a global community of contributors. And it’s partially contributors that are self-sponsored or giving of their own time freely, and partly sponsored volunteers, people who are paid by Five for the Future initiatives inside various companies. I have said many times, most recently at WordCamp US, that I have an ideal ratio of about two to one in that kind of volunteer or self-sponsored versus corporately sponsored set of voices. And also, as I said, at WordCamp US, we’re not necessarily getting to that ideal ratio right now because of the nature of the way the world is at the moment. However, this community functions almost like a tiny little digital society. There are ways to get your voice heard ways to take on leadership roles; there is a little bit of light governmental structure. And as with any society, any community like this, there’s a relationship inherent there. There’s almost a transactional element that takes place when you’re participating fully. Although I know that for the WordPress project, especially for open source in general, there is a reminder that we should always be contributing without the expectation of reciprocity. But even if you are contributing without the expectation of reciprocity, you still are engaging in an existing community, which means that you are fostering a relationship with the community or with the people who are also participating in the community with you. It’s just inescapable if you have people around and working together. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:38

So two concepts really informed my work to future-proof the WordPress project. And the first one is digital citizenship, which is why this particular WordPress Briefing fits today. And the other is the Tragedy of the Commons, especially how we go about refreshing those commons. So digital citizenship, I talked about it a bit in the last WP Briefing. But it’s still true today that that’s important. And the thing that really matters to me as we are working through how to make sure that WordPress is moving forward together. But most discussions of citizenship are location-specific, which makes plenty of sense. However, with so many mobile devices and broader access to some level of internet, we have increasing opportunities to be connected because of interests or skill sets. And even the things that we aspire to or aspire to be with a community like WordPress, which has no home office or main location. Of course, it’s very important that all of the leaders in WordPress, all of the team reps in WordPress, are proactively engaging with the people in their teams and in their portions of the community instead of waiting for like happenstance running into people. We also use a bunch of social stuff to get people together: twitch screams, not twitch screams because it’s not that Halloweeny! Twitch streams, hallway hangouts, events that are both online and off. Everything that the Learn section of the community is doing with their discussion groups. There are so many ways that WordPress proactively engages with each other and engages with itself. And that work is all really important to keeping the community involved, which is key to any organization’s long-term success, and certainly is true for WordPress as long-term success. Because when your community or your organization or your society is engaged and invested in your collective success, then you are (get ready for a list) one, more likely to see obstacles early and be able to overcome them, two more likely to see upcoming trends and prepare for them, three more likely to see what is broken and be able to repair it before it is a major issue. And four, you are more likely to be a resilient and fruitful organization long after any single member has stopped participating. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  11:10

The more connected to the community you are and the more active, the greater your influence and the ability to affect changes also become. And so, not only is it important for us to remain connected as a community just to make sure that everything is going well. But also, it’s one of the primary ways that people who are giving back can sort of have more of an opportunity in this particular ecosystem. In open source, anyone can gain influence by helping others by helping the software and by keeping the trains on the tracks. And so, one of the only lasting limits to long-term potential in an open source project is how good you are at seeing beyond yourself and seeing what good action can make beyond just your own benefits. I understand that there are also specific hurdles to contribution in your free time that I have dedicated a couple of different podcasts to, so I don’t want to neglect that reality. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:19

I have found in my experience that one of the limiting factors that sometimes cannot be unlearned is not being able to see kind of a broader scope, a broader perspective than what you’re already bringing into it. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:34

So being a good digital citizen, that’s a really important part of keeping any society together any organization together and moving forward. But especially is in the context of digital citizenship, is true for WordPress. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:48

The second thing that is really important to me is this concept of the Tragedy of the Commons, which is, of course, an economics term, open source has borrowed. We have talked about it in this podcast in the past. And today, I specifically am talking about how WordPress works to consistently be refreshing the commons. So the theory of the Tragedy of the Commons says that all societies can withstand a certain volume of free-riders. A certain number of people who reap the benefits of that community’s society without necessarily putting anything back into it. And that is no different in open source than in any other place where you would apply this concept. The particular catch for WordPress is of course, that it is free, freely available and has no specific copyright holder. And so in those circumstances, it is incredibly easy for a small group of people to maintain the software while the whole world uses it for free. And not only is it possible for a small group of people to maintain it, but if you’re not careful, it’s also easy for a small group of unpaid people and unacknowledged people to maintain something forever. And at the volume that WordPress operates at, that’s a really risky choice. It doesn’t help to support those people; it puts the long-term stability of the software in jeopardy. And at the end of the day, it just does not help to replenish the commons to make sure that everybody keeps getting to have the benefits of this ecosystem in the long term. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  14:39

As many of you know, there is this program called Five for the Future. And that program is essentially modeled after a tithe. So the invitation to this program when it was first introduced in 2014 was that if you or your company or your community is made better or made possible by WordPress, you should give back to the WordPress project 5% of your resources. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  15:07

It is an aspirational 5%, of course, and some groups give back their time while others give back with their money. But almost anyone who wants to give back has some skill that WordPress needs. That particular program has really grown in leaps and bounds since it was introduced. I don’t know exactly how many team members were considered Five for the Future contributors when it was first introduced in 2014; it was a little before my time. But at the moment, it’s about 150 people that I am routinely aware of or in contact with, which is still a small number considering how many people use WordPress. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  15:52

However, many corporations who have seen the most benefit, including, you know, the company that I work for (Automattic), and a lot of other hosting companies in the ecosystem, all do a really good job of refreshing the commons so that WordPress is still usable for businesses of all levels. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:11

I want to leave us with one final big picture thought about open source. This is going to be a callback to one of my earliest episodes in this podcast. But I think that it’s always worth remembering. We’re going to talk about this really popular phrase in open source projects “free as in speech, not free as in beer.” And for WordPress, as you know, it’s a little bit of both. It’s literally free. But also, since it’s open source, it has a free as in speech component to it as well. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:46

The four freedoms of open source as laid out in the 90s. So 10 years into the open source movement, are basically that you have the freedom to run the program for any purpose, the freedom to study how the program works, and change it so that it can do your computing as you wish, the freedom to redistribute copies so that you can help your neighbor and the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, giving the community a chance to learn and benefit from the changes that you put into the software.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  17:22

I don’t remember if I said this in my original podcast, but I’m going to say it today, free speech has a lot of responsibility, just like being a part of a community. Governments or communities, or in our case, this software is built by the people who show up. For WordPress at 42% of the web, every small choice we make can cause huge changes in how people experience the web today and tomorrow. And that, to my mind, is really no different than participating in any sort of civic infrastructure. The changes that are made today, or the errors that we prevent, set the tone and the circumstance and the potential to thrive for everyone who comes after us. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  18:17

That leads us into our smallest of big things. I just have a couple of things for you all today. Firstly, at the time of this recording, this is prior to the Go/No-Go demo meeting for WordPress 5.9. So I have no idea what’s happened. But by the time this podcast has been released, we will have had the Go/No-Go meeting and also have shipped the post that summarizes what happened, what we hope to change in the next essentially sprint so that we can confidently move forward with a clear set of features for the 5.9 release. I will include a link to the notes below in the show notes. Kudos to everyone, props to everyone who participated in that meeting. And also props to all the people who have been helping us as we head into this final release of the year and all of you who are going to help us make it successfully to the end. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  19:15

The second thing I already kind of alluded to at the top of the podcast, it is Digital Citizenship week; two or three years ago, the WordPress blog had a series about digital citizenship and what it means to be a good digital citizen, what it means to do that in the context of WordPress. I will drop a link to those posts in the show notes as well. They are very well written and very important, and fairly evergreen content. If I think that there is something worth updating, I will update it before putting it in the show notes. And that is your small list of big things. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  19:57

Thank you all for tuning in today for the WordPress sprint. I’m your host, Joseph Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

VideoPress Remake

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 11-10-2021

Introducing the new VideoPress. Still the finest video service for WordPress—now even better.

Video is one of the most powerful tools on the web. It can spark ideas, emotions, conversations, sales, and much more. VideoPress already offers people the ability to upload and serve hours of high-quality video flawlessly around the globe, ad-free. But VideoPress should inspire people to create and share their best ideas as well. 

Now it does. The refreshed player offers creators an intuitive, lightweight design that puts their content in the spotlight.

Creating doesn’t always come easily, so sharing should be a breeze. That’s why VideoPress is fully integrated with the WordPress editor. From effortless drag-and-drop options to broad customization, every feature within VideoPress can be experienced on your WordPress site, without redirecting audiences to external apps. 

Here are just some of the new options available on VideoPress—with many more to come: 

  • Customizable player with colors that match your site’s design.
  • Adaptive bitrates to deliver high-quality playback at great performance speeds.
  • Picture-in-picture and variable playback speeds.
  • Private video options let you offer exclusive content to subscribers.
  • Multi-user access for easier collaboration.
  • Unlimited hosting with WordPress.com or Jetpack plans.
  • No intrusive ads or imposing branding.

With an immersive design and seamless integration, VideoPress is ideal for any videographer, filmmaker, educator, or blogger looking to upload high-quality video—an elevated player for elevated content.

It’s an exciting time for video content, and even more exciting for VideoPress: We’re working on better uploads, smoother library navigation, subtitles, and more. So stay tuned. There’s more coming soon.

VideoPress is included in our Premium, Business and eCommerce plans on WordPress.com. And if you’re self-hosted site, you can get VideoPress through Jetpack, now available as a standalone product.

Behind the Scenes: The Tech Stack of the WordPress.com Growth Summit

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 07-10-2021

Recently, we hosted our second annual WordPress.com Growth Summit and welcomed over 1,300 attendees at the event. The summit was fully online, and it built on the momentum of our inaugural Growth Summit in 2020 after hearing from you, our community, that another conference would be a great learning and networking opportunity for people looking to grow their WordPress.com sites. Based on the positive feedback from last year, this year’s programming continued to be customer-focused by highlighting people — just like you! — who started sites and businesses on WordPress.com and have seen them flourish.

We also changed up the tech stack we used, which allowed us to offer a better user experience and to improve the process of selling tickets and, later, access to recorded videos from the event. If you enjoy building sites with WordPress, tinkering around with design and functionality, I’m pleased to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we got our Growth Summit site to work for us. This explanation might be especially helpful if you’re trying to sell registrations on your site and/or restrict access to content behind a paywall.

Selling Tickets

At WordPress.com, we love to use plugins when building sites, and installing a number of them on the Growth Summit site made ticket sales a breeze for customers.

  • First, we installed the WooCommerce plugin on our WordPress.com site and created a ticket as a simple product in the store catalog. Nothing fancy, just a title and a price. From a design perspective, we determined that it wasn’t ideal to have potential conference attendees visit the product page, so we configured the call-to-action button on the homepage to automatically add a ticket to a visitor’s cart and send them straight to the checkout page. 
  • Then, using Zapier and its WooCommerce extension, we configured a “zap” that was triggered whenever a customer bought a ticket, which in turn alerted Hopin — the virtual event software platform we chose to host the Growth Summit — to create a new attendee registration. 
  • In an effort to simplify the checkout process, and hopefully increase conversion rates, we used the WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor plugin to remove a number of default fields, such as billing street address, phone number, and order comments. We were also able to customize the field layout so that it took up less “real estate” on the checkout page.
  • The MailPoet plugin allowed us to customize the content of the default WooCommerce emails for completed order confirmations. Sure, we could have installed a child theme and then used custom templates to put the text we wanted in the message, but the MailPoet plugin was free for our purposes. Plus we can use it for email marketing campaigns in the future, should we choose.

On-Demand Video Access

Leading up to the Growth Summit, our focus was on driving attendance to the live event. Once the conference wrapped up, we shifted focus to providing access to recordings of Growth Summit sessions for attendees who wanted to watch on demand, and for people who missed the event but wanted to experience it firsthand. With the WooCommerce Memberships extension, we put the videos behind a paywall — in other words, you have to have a membership to view them. To sell memberships, we’re using the same WooCommerce product we used to sell tickets. We just changed its configuration so that buying the product adds the customer to a membership plan that grants access to video content from all the sessions in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, we ensured that anyone who bought a ticket to the live event would get a year of on-demand access automatically. 

Site Design

Aesthetics are as important as functionality. We built the Growth Summit site with the Twenty Twenty-One theme. The homepage uses Gutenberg blocks. Some of the common blocks are Cover, Layout Grid, and Columns. We also used some custom CSS code to tweak the design to suit our needs. 

That’s pretty much it. Did you miss the Growth Summit? Use the coupon code behindthescenes to get 25% off on-demand access to all the video recordings from 2020 and 2021, now through August 2022!

The Month in WordPress: September 2021

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 05-10-2021

There’s a lot of tolerance in open source software for shipping slightly imperfect work. And that’s good. When we ship software that’s a little bit imperfect, it makes it clear how everyone can participate, how everyone could participate, if they could find this WordPress community that supports the CMS.

That was Josepha Haden on the “A Sneak Peek at WordPress 5.9” episode of the WP Briefing Podcast, talking about what goes into a WordPress release like version 5.9. Read on to find out more about updates on the latest release and the latest WordPress news from September 2021.


WordPress Translation Day 2021 Celebrations ran for 30 days

WP Translation Day Matt Mullenweg Quote. Quote text: “Translation is so magical because it multiplies the work of all the other contributors of WordPress. If you care about freedom and the future of the internet, translating WordPress is one of the best things you can do for people who speak your language.”

WordPress Contributor teams, led by the Polyglots and Marketing teams, organized WordPress Translation Day celebrations for the entire month of September. Contributors from across the world joined the celebrations by translating WordPress into their own languages. Additionally, the team organized a host of global and local events. Translation sprints were organized by the Community and Training teams, as well as local groups.

As part of the celebrations, nominations were invited for contributors who had made a significant impact on the translation of WordPress and its availability in so many languages worldwide. More than 30 notable polyglot contributors were nominated for their contributions. They will be featured in the coming month on the WP Translation Day website, together with event recaps and more news.

Read the latest People of WordPress feature on polyglots contributor Yordan Soares, from South America.

WordPress Release updates

Want to contribute to WordPress core? Join the #core channel, follow the Core Team blog, and check out the team handbook. Don’t miss the Core Team chats on Wednesdays at 5 AM and 8 PM UTC. 

Say hi to Gutenberg Versions 11.4 and 11.5

We launched Gutenberg version 11.4 and version 11.5 this month. Version 11.4 adds image blocks to the gallery block, duotone filters for featured images, and padding support for Button Blocks. Version 11.5 adds flex layout support to the group and social icon blocks along with widget group blocks. It will support the addition of a site logo or title directly into menus.

Want to get involved in developing Gutenberg? Follow the Core Team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Make WordPress Slack. The What’s next in Gutenberg post gives details on the latest updates.

New Guidelines for in-person WordCamps

The Community Team published new guidelines for returning to in-person WordCamps in regions where in-person events are allowed by the local public health authorities. 

Community members can now organize in-person WordCamps for fully vaccinated, recently tested negative, or recently recovered folks (in the last three months) — provided their region passes the in-person safety checklist OR if vaccines and/or COVID testing are accessible to all. Organizers can continue to plan online WordCamps if their region does not meet the guideline. 

New guidelines are also available on the return of in-person do_action hackathons.

Want to get involved in the Community Team and help bring back in-person WordPress events? Follow the Community Team blog and join the #community-events channel in the Make WordPress Slack! Check out the following upcoming WordCamps and meetups.

Important Team announcements/updates

Feedback/Testing requests from Contributor Teams

WordPress Events updates


Further reading

Have a story that we could include in the next ‘Month in WordPress’ post? Please submit it using this form

The following folks contributed to September’s Month in WordPress: @webcommsat, @chaion07, @dansoschin, @harishanker, @meher, and @tobifjellner

Celebrating UK Black History Month: Learning Resources, a Read & Watch List, and Content Creation Tools

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 04-10-2021

This year’s UK Black History Month theme, Proud To Be, is about celebrating the Black experience. As a distributed company with employees around the world, including the United Kingdom, we believe that the more perspectives we embrace, and the more we learn about our teammates, the better we are at engaging and helping our global community. 

This October, we encourage individuals and organizations to learn more about Black history, heritage, and culture in the UK. “Black British history is British history. It’s more than a month; it is interwoven in everything,” says Ama, a colleague based in Scotland. “We have changed landscapes in education, law, politics, work, and equality for all within the UK.” Black history is deeply embedded in UK culture, says Ama, from institutions — like the National Health Service — to music, sports, art, media, and popular culture.

Interested in learning more? We’ve compiled a list of staff recommendations:

Explore these resources this month — or bookmark them for learning and inspiration anytime.

#PoweredByWordPress learning resources

From the official UK Black History Month hub to the website of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, these resources are great starting points for your journey.

Black History Month 2021

All year long, Black History Month publishes news, features, career and education information, and event listings across the UK. Make it your first resource for getting educated and involved.

Black Heroes Foundation

Focused on youth education and development, this London-based community charity raises Black cultural awareness of the general public, educating and uplifting youth in particular. The foundation envisions a world where Black heroes are acknowledged, respected, and celebrated.

Stephen Lawrence Day

The 1993 murder and case of Stephen Lawrence — an 18-year-old from southeast London who was killed in an unprovoked racial attack while waiting for the bus — led to a major shift in the UK in attitudes about racism, the criminal justice system, and the role of the police. The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation continues to tell Stephen’s story, offers resources for educators and organizers, and works toward creating a just society.

The National Archives

The National Archives is the official archive and publisher of the UK government, documenting over 1000 years of history. Researchers can browse the Black British history section of the website for a guide on social and political history in the 20th century, lots of blog and multimedia content, and records relating to British citizens of African and African-Caribbean descent.

Black History Walks

Partnering with museums, schools, and other institutions, Black History Walks offers a dozen walking tours throughout London, public monthly educational talks, and video courses and resources on Black history. Its diverse programming targets a range of people both in person and online, from students to travelers to businesses.

A read & watch syllabus

Looking for book, TV, and film recommendations about Black history and culture in the UK — or by Black scholars and creators — but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some of our nonfiction, fiction, and film and television picks.

Nonfiction

  • Black and British: A Forgotten History: Published to accompany the BBC Two series noted in the Film and Television section below, this must-read book by historian David Olusoga examines the shared history between the British Isles and the people of Africa.
  • 100 Great Black Britons: In this book, Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne — founders of the 100 Great Black Britons campaign — celebrate Black British history and recognize key Black Britons who have helped to shape Great Britain.
  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging: A hybrid of history and memoir, Afua Hirsch’s book “reveals the identity crisis at the heart of Britain today” and explores a nation in denial about its imperial past and present.
  • This Is Why I Resist: Don’t Define My Black Identity: In a book that demands fundamental change, activist and lawyer Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu examines the roots of racism and anti-Blackness and calls for meaningful action.
  • The Louder I Will Sing: A Story of Racism, Riots and Redemption: In 1985, when Lee Lawrence was a child, his mother was wrongfully shot by police during a raid on their home in Brixton. Published more than three decades later, his memoir chronicles what it was like to grow up as a young Black man in England and how that day influenced his family.
  • In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System: Experiencing a tragedy as a teenager pushed Alexander Wilson to become a barrister — a type of lawyer — so she could make a difference within an unjust system. Her debut book describes her experience as a mixed-race woman in a field lacking in diverse representation.
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire: In this book, author and hip-hop artist Akala blends biography and personal experience with an examination of race and class across topics — from education to politics and the police to the far right.
  • Misfits: A Personal Manifesto: This “coming-to-power manifesto” by Michaela Coel — the actress, writer, and creator of I May Destroy You — builds on an inspiring keynote address she delivered at the 2018 Edinburgh International Television Festival about resilience, empathy, storytelling, and growing up in public housing in East London.
  • What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough: In this illustrated self-help guide, author and influencer Chidera Eggerue, also known as the Slumflower, writes about self-love, empowerment, and creating your own narrative. The book also includes Igbo proverbs from Eggerue’s Nigerian mother.

I recommend David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History. It’s a really important book, with new updates on the Windrush scandal and Black Lives Matter from the UK perspective.

—Victoria Jones, UK

Fiction

  • White Teeth: Published over 20 years ago, Zadie Smith’s debut novel focuses on the lives of two unlikely friends and their families in London. Considered a “modern classic of multicultural Britain,” the book is a window into the immigrant experience.
  • Girl, Woman, Other: Weaving a dozen narratives about different people across ages, backgrounds, and professions, Bernardine Evaristo examines topics of identity, race, and womanhood in modern Britain.
  • Love in Colour: This collection of short stories by author Bolu Babalola reimagines ancient love stories and folktales from around the world, from Greek myths to Middle Eastern legends, and centers Black women and strong female characters.
  • Queenie: This sharp and funny novel by Candice Carty-Williams is about the life of Queenie Jenkins, a mid-twenties British Jamaican woman living in London who’s struggling to find her place in the world.
  • Such a Fun Age: One night, a supermarket security guard sees a young Black woman, Emira Tucker, in the aisles with a white toddler. The guard accuses Emira of kidnapping, when in reality she’s the babysitter. In this novel, Kiley Reid takes a look at race, class, power dynamics, and privilege.

I’ve greatly valued Zadie Smith’s work. Her novels — especially White Teeth — are well crafted and offer a mix of comedy and realism that often focuses on social class in England. Her essays are things of beauty. She’s worth a read, no matter the month.

Daryl L. L. Houston, USA

Film and Television

  • Black and British: A Forgotten History: This BBC Two series by David Olusoga, composed of four episodes, looks at the relationship between Britain and people of African origins, slavery, and Black British identity in the 20th century.
  • Small Axe: In this anthology of five films, 12 Years a Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen brings to life the stories of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to 1980s.
  • Black Power: A British Story of Resistance: This hour-and-a-half documentary includes interviews with activists involved in Britain’s Black Power movement in the late 1960s. (The BBC’s larger collection of programming for Black History Month is also worth browsing.)
  • I May Destroy You: Michaela Coel’s recent Emmy-winning drama series is about a promising young writer, Arabella, who is sexually assaulted one night while out with her friends. The show explores consent and trauma, and stars a primarily Black British cast.
  • Black and Welsh: Cardiff-born filmmaker Liana Stewart brings together people from across Wales to highlight its multiculturalism and to share stories from community members about what it means to be Black and Welsh.
  • Hair Power: Me and My Afro: Irish writer and broadcaster Emma Dabiri has intimate conversations with both men and women about their hair, digging into how and why Afro and Black hair is an important and complex aspect of the Black experience.
  • Highlife: This premium reality TV show follows the lives of eight successful, glamorous British West Africans and depicts a different angle of Black life in the UK.
  • Desmond’s: Originally running from 1989 to 1994, this sitcom was set in a barbershop in Peckham, southeast London, and featured a mostly Black British Guyanese cast.

Blog and website resources

Lean on these resources, tools, and organizations during UK Black History Month — and beyond — to publish content on your site that’s fitting for your audience, or to connect with and collaborate with others.

Would you like to recommend a website on WordPress, writing or media by a Black thinker or creator in the UK, or another resource? Tell us in the comments.

WP Briefing: Episode 17: WordPressing Your Way to Digital Literacy

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 04-10-2021

In episode 17 of the WordPress Briefing, Josepha Haden Chomphosy reflects on her WordCamp US keynote and digs into how participating in open source projects can help you learn 21st Century Skills. 

Have a question you’d like answered? You can submit them to wpbriefing@wordpress.org, either written or as a voice recording.

Credits

References

WordPress 5.9 Planning

5.9 Target Features

WordCamp US 2021

Transcript

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the WordPress Briefing, the podcast where you can catch quick explanations of the ideas behind the WordPress open source project, some insight into the community that supports it, and get a small list of big things coming up in the next two weeks. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy. See, here we go!

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  00:42

Today I want to talk to you a little bit about the digital divide, where it is, maybe a bit of where it’s headed, and which parts of the WordPress open source project and CMS can help. This is a focused look, though, so I won’t touch on some of the hurdles that everyone is aware of when you get outside of in-person environments, things like parental modeling or supervision, education on the relevance of technology, etc. This is a follow-up to the conversation that I had at WordCamp US last week—and so doing a little bit of a deeper dive here. And we’re gonna start with what exactly is the digital divide. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:23

So the digital divide is considered those who benefit from the digital age versus those who don’t; that feels like a really big concept. And the current discussion is primarily about access, or for years that has been about access anyway, especially physical access. So those who have computers versus those who do not have internet in their homes versus those who do not. But I don’t necessarily agree with that particular, really focused definition of the problem. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  01:59

If the only problem we see is access, then the solution becomes to get cheap devices and internet to everyone, which certainly has led to more people being connected than ever before.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:12

With this proliferation of devices that are considered both smart and mobile (mobile in this context, meaning handheld or pocket-sized), the discussion over the last few years has been shifting. It’s been shifting into more of a discussion around the education around the relevance of internet access, discussions around the quality of access to the Internet, and also discussions around Wi-Fi and dial-up and the surprising cost of data.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:42

But from my perspective, there are a number of really dangerous assumptions that we make when we boil it all the way down to who has access and the quality of that kind of access. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  02:54

The first dangerous assumption is that we run the risk of conflating being tech-savvy with being digitally literate, and they’re not really the same things. The second assumption that we run the risk of is assuming that access to cellular data equals access to the internet through any other means. And also assuming that cost is always the determining factor.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  03:19

And the final fairly dangerous assumption that we’re making there is that we allow ourselves the ability to mark the digital divide is fixed in our minds. Once we get enough access to everyone, we’re just done. There is no more divide. But as a way of illustration, if you think about access, not in the context of technology, like high technology, digital technology, and in the context of like writing, you probably own a writing utensil, and you probably have access to paper of some sort, which is great. But just because you have like a pencil and a piece of paper doesn’t mean that I can send you home right now – I guess most of you are listening at home.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:07

It doesn’t mean that I can send you to your desk right now. And consider you prepared to write a best-selling novel, right? Because giving you physical tools no more makes you a novelist than handing me a computer when I was a teen made me digitally literate. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:24

So let’s talk about what it takes to be digitally literate. I’ve lumped the following skills into three groups. It’s broadly defined as 21st-century skills, but the groups that I have them in is not a comprehensive list of those 21st-century skills. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  04:41

The first group that is a large component of digital literacy is critical thinking skills. So computational thinking and problem-solving. That particular one is not new, exactly. But the computational thinking part certainly is. Not all problems are solved with code, but the basis for thinking through things procedurally is increasingly important. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:04

The second one in that set is communication through multiple media, consuming communications or content through Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other format, but also creating the things that communicate—writing blogs, creating videos, both calls and standalone, and forums, things like that. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:27

The third set in that group of critical thinking skills is around collaboration, which some people will say is more about communication. But I find that collaboration both online and in-person is a skill set all to its own. Communication only gets you so far when you’re learning to cook to collaborate with people that you don’t normally work with. And so, I have lumped that into critical thinking skills. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  05:54

The second big bucket for digital literacy is actually literally digital literacy. So I have three, three things in here as well. Evaluating information is obviously incredibly important in the environment that we’re in right now, for just information’s sake. But then things like understanding the differences between copyright versus copyleft licenses, understanding the difference between an .org ending URL and a .com ending URL, and evaluating the general veracity of sources that you’re finding on the web.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  06:32

The second part of that group is media use and creation, understanding the difference between folks who consume and folks who create the content we have, how to find information online, and the most sensible places to keep information online. And the third area of digital literacy that I find to be vitally important is the ethics of licenses both around use and access. So again, things like copyright vs. Copy, copyleft. And specifically for WordPress, that means understanding things like the Creative Commons licenses, GPL, MIT, but then also copyright is its own complicated question unto itself. But the other things that show up for us for WordPress that show up for us with technology are also things like open access versus proprietary information and sources. And things like plagiarism versus sampling.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  07:33

And our third big bucket, which has become increasingly complex, but the third big bucket for digital literacy to my mind is actually considered something that I call life skills. So things like self-direction, knowing what you want to do next, and how to get it done. Time management is also in there, knowing how much time something will take and being able to make sure that you are getting things done over time, as opposed to trying to accomplish everything at the last second. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:03

A big part of these life skills is cross-cultural and social communication. The internet is tricky, right? Because it’s simultaneously incredibly insular and increasingly global. Like you can if you wanted only ever read things that already confirm your existing biases. But the very nature of the internet, the very nature of the web, means that the world is much smaller. We have more ready access faster to everyone everywhere in the world than we used to have. This means, of course, that cultural awareness is an absolute must now more than ever. This is for what it’s worth the time of year when I give this talk. And that’s because of this last part of the life skills section, which is digital citizenship. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  08:54

Digital citizenship generally is the second week of October 2 or the third week of October. And it’s one of my favorite weeks because it is something that comes up all the time in our ecosystem. It comes up all the time and open source in general, but certainly for WordPress. So those are our three big buckets of digital literacy, a subset of 21st-century skills as a whole.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:22

That’s a lot of stuff, I know. And it’s also really hard to figure out how you can learn any of those skills, and from my experience, I really believe that WordPress as an open source project can help people learn those things.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  09:43

Once upon a time, ages and ages ago, my mother told me that in order for me to become a better writer, I would have to read and in order to become a better communicator, it would probably help if I spent a little bit more time writing, and I have always felt that the same must be true for all the things that we learn, you find a positive example and study it to become better. Or, depending on what you’re learning and how you’re trying to learn it, you find a passive example of something that you want to be able to do better from an active standpoint and participate in that so that your active production of the other part is better.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:24

Here are a few parts of the WordPress project and WordPress itself that can help with this.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  10:31

So there are first a few really specific teams; if you’re contributing to a team like Themes, or Plugins, or Core, the three areas of those digital literacy skills that you have an opportunity to learn there. For critical thinking, you’re going to run into problem-solving and computational thinking. You’re also going to run into distributed collaboration, which was really important as just a concept when I first wrote this talk. And now it is currently really important as a reality because we have a bunch of companies that are going to either remote work or partially distributed or fully distributed. And that’s the way that WordPress has worked for a pretty long time.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  11:19

So I’ve always felt like it was important because it was important to WordPress, but it’s also becoming increasingly an important part of just how to exist in the world at the moment. For those three teams, the things that you can really tap into and practice for the life skill section are digital literacy, nope, digital citizenship, self-direction, and time management obviously comes up in any open source project because you are volunteering your time and it is up to you to kind of decide how much you can commit or not various other parts of time management and directing one’s own project. Now, but you also get the opportunity to test and practice your cross-cultural communication, social communication and learning what it means to collaborate across cultures in that way.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:15

On the digital literacy side, you also get a little bit of that information evaluation and synthesis for what it’s worth. And then obviously get to learn more about the ethics of various types of licenses and how use and access relate to those things.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:35

We also have a team or two; these are not really teams or twos. These are things that you can do that are either solo activities or group activities. One is working or checking out the support forums, and the other is blogging. We’ll start with support forums. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  12:52

If you’re doing this as a group activity, there are a couple of extra things that that you can practice here. But suppose you’re doing it as a solo, just way to give back to the project sort of thing or way to learn some of these skills sort of thing. In that case, you can get almost all of these digital literacy skills woven into working in the support forums, depending on what’s happening in the moment and the questions people have brought up. But for critical thinking, obviously, you get some problem solving in there, not as much the computational thinking as the procedural thinking part. But you certainly also get to tap into communication with multiple types of media, collaboration in person and online, depending on whether you’re doing this as a solo effort or a group effort. And then, of course, research, which I didn’t really bring up in any of those groupings for digital literacy, is certainly a very important part of it.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  13:49

For the digital literacy grouping of skills related to digital literacy, you get to work on evaluating information and, depending on how complicated an answer might be. You can also get that opportunity to practice synthesizing complex information and research, a digital literacy skill. And then, once people have responded to a topic you’ve answered, you also get to tap into that life skill section. You get to be you get the opportunity to practice digital citizenship related to synchronous or asynchronous conversation. You also get to see more about how cross-cultural communication and collaboration works and social communication across those various boundaries that naturally show up when we’re working across cultures that way. And as I mentioned previously, information synthesis, as well.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  14:53

The second one that I have mentioned can be like a solo effort or a group effort, depending on what you do. Blogging, for most people who use WordPress, is probably the most common application of how WordPress can help you do stuff. So I often see it as the most relevant and the most immediately accessible to anyone. But you know, you got to meet people where they are. So, I would strongly believe that this is our best way to help people learn these things. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  15:30

So blogging for the critical thinking sorts of things, you have an opportunity to practice communication across mediums. You will probably get an opportunity to practice your research skills, chances are, you’re going to get the opportunity to practice some problem solving, and honestly, like if you’re hosting your site, problem-solving is going to come up when using WordPress as soon as you add in plugins and themes, because you sometimes kind of have to figure out what’s working and what’s not, and what’s playing nicely with other things and what’s not. It’s possible that with blogging, you’re also going to have an opportunity to get to practice some distributed collaboration. But that’s probably going to depend on what you’re doing with your site as well.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:30

Licenses and how they apply to the thing that you’re using feel a bit different when you are the one who’s creating. And so learning about how those things work and don’t work and how they can best suit what you’re trying to do. Blogging is absolutely an excellent opportunity to dig into that a bit and learn a bit more about that. As far as your life skills go,

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  16:56

that’s where you, again, get to practice some digital citizenship by figuring out who your audiences are and also when you have to communicate with them via the comments or any other way that you have built up a feedback mechanism there. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  17:11

Self-direction obviously will come into this, maybe time management if you are blogging on, I was gonna say on a paid basis, but that’s not really I don’t know, on a project basis, like some of us are students and have to write things based on deadlines. And so, you know, self-direction, potentially time management, always cross-cultural communication, social communication, research, all of these things show up in there.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  17:41

And, you know, I really believe in this concept of how blogging and bringing people into maintaining a website can teach you all of these skills. Because when I was younger, I was a bad communicator. And now, I am across the board known for my effective communication and my ability to work across cultures. And so the defining moment, which was like a four-year moment, and so not necessarily a moment, but the thing that really made all the difference was when my mom challenged me to write every single day. She had noted that I was not necessarily great at getting from one point to the next. I wasn’t necessarily great at building my arguments when I had to explain something to people. And she suggested that writing every day would help me tap into this big thing about communication and working with other people collaboration, all of that. And as an adult on the other side of it. Like, I thought she was super wrong when I was younger, because don’t we all think our parents are wrong when we’re younger. But as an adult on the other side of it, not only was that an opportunity for me to literally learn how to communicate better. But it also, when I look at it, gave me access to opportunities to practice all sorts of 21st-century skills and digital literacy skills in an environment that was relatively safe. And so, I am a big proponent of this particular one.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  19:26

Another team that helps us tap into and practice a lot of our digital literacy skills is the Documentation team. I recommend that you let this be a supervised activity if you’re doing this with students because, you know, it’s a wiki. You can put weird things in there on accident or just inaccurate things. So for critical thinking, the primary skill that you’re going to be able to practice if you’re working on documentation is collaboration. You would think that it was also like information synthesis and information evaluation. But for a lot of the work that we’re doing, the documentation exists. And what we’re looking at is trying to figure out where it no longer matches what is currently in the CMS, or currently in the project or currently in the team, whatever it is that you’re working on at that moment. And so, it’s a strong collaborative effort in the WordPress project. You have to have done the general work to figure out what needs to be changed in the documentation. But a lot of times, you need to figure out who has access to make the changes, what has prevented us from making changes in the past, and things like that. And so I say, collaboration is the only one to learn and critical thinking, but it’s actually a really big one and can take a fair amount of effort in this particular context.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  20:49

From the digital literacy aspect, of course, there is evaluating information. But this particular type of information evaluation is a little different for documentation. And this actually is true for the Documentation team, for the Training team, and also for the new Learn team. This question is true for all of them. There is a huge difference between presentation versus application of information. The way you present information for people who already know it and just need confirmation of something or are using it for reference material is really different from when people are looking at a piece of documentation that should be telling them how to accomplish something. And they try to apply it either to their own processes at the moment or apply it to teaching other people. And so evaluating information to make sure that what is presented can be applied, and all of the ways that that very complicated journey with managing information can kind of work or not, depending on how things are going in your section of the open source project at the moment.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  21:59

The third group of skills that you can really dig into in those teams, again, is digital citizenship, basically, everything is digital citizenship in WordPress because we’re just people online.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  22:24

And this final grouping that we have this final team and group of skills. So the Community team is a substantial and far-ranging team; they have many things that fall into their area of expertise. And so this has traditionally kind of functioned as a linchpin around education and ensuring that that was all relevant for users and attendees of events. The Community team will remain pivotal to so many things that we do now. But now that we have really awakened the Learn team and re-enlivened that Training team, this will shift a little over time. But yes, so that grain of salt that depending on when you listen to this, if you listen to it in 2050, maybe it’s not accurate anymore. Hopefully, most of what I say is not accurate in 2050. But you know, still.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  23:27

 Anyway! Critical thinking that’s where we were. So the critical thinking group of skills inside the Community team, you are going to have an opportunity to practice problem-solving. And frequently also procedural thinking, depending on what you’re working on in that team. Multimedia communication is absolutely true. And that’s true, whether you contribute to the team itself and make sure that the team is functioning and doing their basic tasks. Or if you are organizing an entire event, whether it’s online or offline or however that is being accomplished. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  24:07

Multimedia communication for this particular team is constant for all of their work and something that everyone who works on there gets to practice all the time. For digital literacy, this comes up a lot if what you’re doing is working through any sort of like programming plans, making sure that what we have in place for events is really excellent. It’s a really excellent opportunity for practicing the evaluation of information, learning more about media use and creation, and then naturally, everything to do with licenses copyright copyleft, not only for everything that we produce but then also for everyone in the ecosystem. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  24:55

This team helps so many plugins, authors and theme developers, and other groups who participate in the ecosystem understand the nuances of the GPL and why it matters so much to WordPress. And then in the life skill section, there’s the obvious life skill section, life skills that have come up for all of them—so digital citizenship, cross-cultural and social communication. But also you have the opportunity to tap into that self-direction and time management practice, which probably should also be considered in all of these teams. But, you know, things change as we go. 

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  25:45

Those are the most likely digital literacy skills that you would end up practicing in the Community team, depending on how you are participating in the Community team at that moment.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  25:59

So I said that we would talk a little bit about where this is all headed and what to do next. And like I just said, when I got lost in my own reverie, they’re like, hopefully, everything that I’ve shared here is out of date by 2050. Like, if we can come back to this particular podcast, or this presentation, or anything I’ve ever said, about digital literacy over my time with WordPress. And if we could come back to that in 2050, or, you know, I was going to say, 20 years from now, 2041 feels really close. But, you know, come back to it in the future, and say, that was all really excellent information to know at the moment. And we did do those things. And now, WordPress has proven that open source contribution and collaboration can teach all of the necessary 21st-century skills that anyone would need to survive in the world. And we did do it, that would be really cool. But I don’t think that that’s where we’re headed. Not because I don’t think people believe in what I’m saying or care about what I’m saying. But because it’s very easy to kind of let these things go at some point.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  27:20

Even if you at some point, were proficient in all of what is considered 21st-century skills, sometimes our skills don’t get used very much. And so we lose track of them. And we don’t know, or we don’t know how to teach them to other people and various ways to do that. So I hope that when we revisit this in the time capsule of the internet 20 years from now, we can say that was a great explanation. And we learned so much. And we made so many changes in such progress that now we need a new version of this. That’s really all we can do, always striving to leave the world in a better position than when we found it.

Josepha Haden Chomphosy  28:07

All right, that brings us to our small list of big things. I don’t have a ton to share with you today. But what I do have to share with you is a really big deal. So we are about a week away from the Go/No-Go point of WordPress 5.9. That is the final release of the year. And as soon as we know what is a go or a no go from that meeting on October 12th,  everyone is going just to hit the ground running. And so, if you are interested in contributing to that release, either by being a participant in the release squad or leading some part of the release squad. Absolutely. Drop by and let me know because I am interested to know who wants to learn more about doing that. And this is actually something that has gone by. I mentioned at the top that I spoke at WordCamp US.  That is still true; I did do it. And so did a bunch of other really excellent presenters. If you missed WordCamp US on Friday, for whatever reason, because you know, life is complicated. Pretty soon, we will have the videos. We’ll have all the videos up with captions quickly and have those available for everyone to watch and learn more from as their schedule allows and as their attention allows. And that is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphos, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

Will We See You Tomorrow at WordCamp US 2021?

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 30-09-2021

Let’s meet at WCUS 2021! WordPress.com will be there and we hope to see you there as well!

Although we’d love to be at an in-real-life WordCamp right now, we’re still excited about attending the online version of WordCamp US this year. 

What is WordCamp US 2021?

WordCamps are informal events that are organized and hosted by the WordPress community. WordCamp US 2021 is a one-day online event for the US WordPress community to attend sessions, network with one another, participate in WordPress-related workshops, and more. Of course, it’s not only for US residents – everyone is invited to attend!

Reminder: It’s free to attend, but you need a ticket so get yours now

WordCamps are welcoming places for all WordPress businesses, users, bloggers, and enthusiasts to gather. No matter where you host your WordPress site, no matter how big or small your site might be, WCUS 2021 is the place to be. 

How is WordPress.com Involved?

WordPress.com is a part of the WordPress community as well, so we wanted to participate in this event in a big way. We are proud to be one of several sponsors of WordCamp US 2021 (WCUS 2021). Be sure to visit our sponsor page here, which includes WordPress.com-related facts you may not be aware of. For example, did you know that WordPress.com is a hosted version of the open-source software WordPress, delivered on a fast, secure managed WordPress hosting platform?  

What Can You Expect at WCUS 2021?

There are sessions throughout the day, all carefully selected to appeal to the varied interests of WordCamp attendees. Take a look at the schedule and plan ahead so you don’t miss the sessions that interest you the most.

Maybe you’re interested in eCommerce or accessibility. Perhaps you are curious about the future direction of WordPress. Or are you hoping to learn more about community-building? You can delve into these topics and more at this event. 

There will also be plenty of time to network with other attendees, and even hang out and enjoy some music during the day. 

So will we see you there tomorrow? If you see us around, be sure to say hello.

Psst… We may even have some swag available.

People of WordPress: Yordan Soares

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 30-09-2021

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories.

To coincide with International Translation Day and the final day of the 2021 WordPress Translation celebration, we feature the story of a WordPresser who has made a major impact in the polyglots team.

Beyond software, meeting the WordPress community

For Yordan Soares from South America, finding WordPress also meant discovering friends, community, and opportunities. He had not expected to find a whole global movement behind the web development software.

Yordan, who is from Venezuela, South America, said: “The first time I used WordPress, I had no idea what was going on behind the software or beyond it. I knew there was someone making it all work, but I couldn’t even remotely imagine all the people who were making WordPress not just a tool for developing websites, but a whole movement that comes together to share, build, and help make the world better.”

Turning your hobby into your job

Initially, Yordan earned his income from computer technical support and installing networks for small and medium-sized businesses. Back in 2005, web development and code-writing was just a hobby. When he discovered the concept of CSS and how it could make everything dynamic. This opened up a whole new career pathway for him.

In 2010, an introduction to WordPress through a friend opened up a future he had not imagined. He stopped using any other content management system (CMS) and wanted to explore how much he could do with the platform.

Three years later in 2013, he was able to take his WordPress journey further by starting a small advertising agency with some of his friends. During this time, they crafted commercials for local radio and TV stations. Through WordPress, they found it easy to build more than 15 websites for businesses in a market that previously had not valued the importance of having an online presence.

He said: “We were working for almost four years until at the end of 2017 the economic crisis in Venezuela became too acute, and we decided to close the agency when we stopped making profits. Taking stock of that period, I think we changed the way merchants saw the Internet business in the city.”

Working full time as a freelancer

One year on in 2018, Yordan began to freelance full-time as a web developer. His first clients were primarily agencies and friends who had emigrated to other countries. Later, he expanded into freelance marketplaces.

At that time, getting started as a freelancer was quite a challenging task in Venezuela. The first hindrance was getting a fair level of recompense. Additionally, the deteriorating conditions in the country with constant blackouts and internet connection failures complicated matters.

At the time, Yordan was living in Guarenas, where the situation was relatively better. He managed to get a reasonably uninterrupted electricity supply with adequate internet speed, which was just good enough to complete his projects.

Meeting the WordPress community

“Surely if I hadn’t met the community, I would have continued to work on my own, like a lone wolf, doing the ordinary work of solving problems for occasional customers and paying my bills,” he said.

Living in Guarenas, Yordan began to experience stability in his career and made new friends and contacts. He began looking for co-working spaces or technology communities nearby, and that’s when he met the WordPress community in Caracas.

He quickly signed up for the first face-to-face event. As soon as the event concluded, he went to talk to the co-organizer and offered his help. He was inspired to help with designing promotional pieces, managing social networks, and organizing events.

Through such events, he met and connected with several people living in nearby cities.

A few months later, with other WordPress users in the area, the idea emerged to start a new Guarenas-Guatire meetup group. The idea became a reality by December 2019, when they applied to the WordPress community team.

Once the final approvals came in, the team started scheduling the activities. The WordPress Guarenas-Guatire Meetup was officially recognized!

During the first quarter of 2020, just before the pandemic, Yordan and colleagues organized five face-to-face events. With the worldwide lockdown, in-person community engagements came to a halt. However, the Guarenas-Guatire community was eager to continue meeting.

To keep the community active and motivated, and with the support of sponsors, they started organizing online events under a format called “WordPress a la medianoche” (WordPress at midnight).

The format of these events was inspired by Alexis Arnal, who suggested meeting at midnight to make the most of the internet speed that would usually improve somewhat after that time!

At the time of writing, Yordan and the team have organized 16 WordPress a la medianoche events with an attendance of up to 50 people per online gathering. An impressive audience which enabled a comparatively small meetup to keep communications flowing at a difficult and unprecedented time.

One positive of such events, is an opportunity to invite people from other countries and run sessions in partnership with others. An example was a special translation event with Javier Esteban, a member of the translation team from Spain. The meetup also invited contributors from Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, and Colombia who were happy to participate.

Strengthened by the community

Yordan (pictured bottom left) speaking at the WordPress Translation Day 2020 events

Yordan believes that he would have continued to work on his own had he not met the WordPress community.

He said: “Fortunately, this was not the case and I have been able to live a lot of transforming experiences that have shown me the meaning of the words ‘community’ and ‘volunteerism’.”

Yordan felt empowered by the community and it led him to volunteer for many other roles and activities, including Locale Manager for Spanish Venezuela, a moderator for WordPress.tv, and as a support contributor in the forums helping people with technical issues. He has also developed free plugins for the official WordPress directory and spoken at community events including WordCamp Spain 2020.

All this has a boomerang effect, Yordan explains. These experiences helped him grow personally and professionally, as it’s always rewarding to know that you’ve helped improve the WordPress ecosystem.

He also likes being able to directly help people when they need it and feels it is a two-way learning process.

“At first, when I told my family and friends about the community and the work I was doing, they would ask me ‘what do you get in return?’ Perhaps they expected me to tell them a specific amount of money, but the answer is more complex,” he said.

“It’s rewarding to know that you’ve helped improve the WordPress ecosystem, the tool you use to work and put food on the table.”

During his journey, Yordan has met many wonderful people with common interests and values, and the best part is that many of these people are now his friends, business partners, or customers.

At the same time, he has learned new skills and gained experience, which have given him a significant confidence boost in facing difficult situations that may come in life.

As part of the WordPress Translation Day 2021 celebrations, Yordan was nominated for his contribution to the work of the Polyglots Team translating WordPress. The full nominations list and stories will be published in October and November on the WordPress Translation Day website. Check out the final events for International Translation Day.

Contributors

Thanks to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Maedah Batool (@maedahbatool), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann), and Nalini (@nalininonstopnewsuk) for work on this story. Thank you to Yordan Soares (@yordansoares) for sharing his Contributor Story, and to Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) for their support of the series. The WordPress Guarenas-Guatire logo on this page was designed by Bragniel Jimenez

This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. The initiative highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard. Meet more WordPressers in our People of WordPress series.

#ContributorStory #HeroPress

Upcoming Gallery Block improvements

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 27-09-2021

Thanks to @javiarce & @annezazu for design and copy contributions.

An exciting update to the Gallery Block gives you more ways to show off images in your posts and pages. While this change won’t be available for most folks until WordPress 5.9’s launch in December, we wanted to share some of what’s to come to get you excited about the future.

Style individual images

You can now use the same tools that are available for individual image blocks on each image in the Gallery Block! This added flexibility means you can do more customization – from adding links to each individual image, inline cropping to edit on the fly, apply unique styles for more visually compelling images, and apply an array of duotone filters.

Add custom styles

For more advanced folks who like to go a bit deeper in their customizations, you now have the option to add custom CSS styles per image. This is thanks to the ability to assign CSS classes to each image.

More accessible and intuitive 

With this change comes the benefit of improved keyboard navigation and the ability to add alt text right within the block sidebar. You can also drag and drop to rearrange images.

Next steps

This will be available in December with the release of WordPress 5.9. You can check it out now if you’re using the Gutenberg plugin on any of your sites. Read more about becoming an early adopter if you’d like to get ahead.

If you’re a plugin or theme author who has built upon the Gallery Block functionality, be sure to check out this Dev Note detailing what steps need to be taken for compatibility since this is a breaking change.

We’re excited to see the new galleries that these options open up and what ideas you have to make creating galleries even better.

A Successful Blogger on Making the Switch

Posted by download | Posted in Software | Posted on 27-09-2021

After Kyla Marie Charles grew a successful blog on Blogger for 10 years and made her mark as an influencer, she realized her website was no longer able to support her needs. She began the search for her next platform and discovered WordPress.com. 

“I started to become limited by the features that Blogger offered since starting my own podcast and my growing community with #MomChatMonday,” she writes. When she started out, she needed a platform that was quick and simple to navigate: her own corner of the web for her sporadic recipes. As her site and audience grew, she needed a better solution for her blossoming online community, as well as ecommerce options to help her expand even more. “After all that time and hard work, I didn’t want to keep stifling the ideas that I finally felt capable of taking on professionally.”

Leaving her old platform, Kyla transitioned to WordPress.com — on the WordPress.com Business plan — and discovered she now has infinite possibilities. She has a home for an official #MomChatMonday community, her podcast, and a variety of blog content from recipes, DIY projects, and posts on motherhood. As she ponders her future, she isn’t certain what her next steps are, but she’s excited to do it on WordPress.com. “My new blog,” she writes, “is up for the challenge.”

Photo Credit: Kyla Marie Charles

How Kyla switched to WordPress.com

Building and launching your website can be an incredibly exciting time, whether you’re a blogger sharing your ideas and establishing your brand or a business owner selling your products and services worldwide. But what happens when you’ve outgrown your current platform? Here’s how you can make the switch to WordPress.com, and a few features to consider as you build your new online home.

  • Import your content: People come to WordPress.com from different places on the web, and we have various importers that do much of the heavy lifting for you. Coming from Blogger like Kyla? Here’s the Blogger importer guide.
  • Set up essential pages: Have some fun drafting a new About page like Kyla. Find inspiration from pre-designed page layouts built with blocks to build other evergreen pages like a Services or FAQs page, or a simple Contact page to connect with your audience or start generating leads immediately. 
  • Take advantage of our ecommerce features: Collecting monthly payments? Offering writing workshops? Thinking of setting up a premium service? Kyla, for example, has pondered the idea of launching a book club, offering exclusive access to members. Once your site is migrated and you’re ready to earn money, you can use the Payments block on a site with a paid WordPress.com plan.

Is it time for you to make the switch? Let’s get down to business.