As the American Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, I am so grateful for all of our Tavern readers and the people who make WordPress – 800 in the most recent 6.1 release with 35 percent of them being new contributors. This community has made remarkable progress this year, while navigating changes and uncertain times. Committed contributors continue to show up and make WordPress the best platform for publishing on the web.
The recent social media upheaval with Twitter has been an unexpected gift that has created an opportunity for a mass return to decentralization and open web protocols, like ActivityPub and RSS. The sting of the prospect of losing Twitter followers and the network that users worked to build, has underscored the importance of agency in social networking, the ability to take your data and connections with you to other networks on your own terms.
Although it is somewhat heartbreaking to see Twitter struggling to survive, one silver lining is that this situation is inspiring a drive towards a greater level of interoperability between apps, like Tumblr engineers working to add ActivityPub support so users can connect across Mastodon and other networks that use the same protocol.
People are steadily moving away from the all-powerful algorithms that steer consumers and subtly manipulate the public consciousness, and migrating away in search of healthier, more ethical social networking alternatives. The refreshing lack of ads and algorithms are winning people over in decentralized social networks, which are getting a second look from mainstream publications in light of Twitter’s loss of critical engineering teams.
I’m thankful for this renewed focus on networks that value the open web, where people are now exploring alternatives to walled gardens with their friends, instead of having to start over alone. Never underestimate the power of friction and crisis to refine how we communicate and motivate us to find a better way to stay connected. This is a moment that may have enough traction to change the course of social interaction on the web.
With things changing all around, it’s heartening to know that WordPress is still here and going strong, for those of us who have chosen it as the home for our content. We’re fortunate to have so many plugins available that connect our ecosystem to the broader web, allowing us to syndicate content to almost anywhere. Let’s not miss this opportunity to dig into the open web and see where it takes us.