Post Status: The History of the Web, and WordPress’s 15th Birthday — Draft Podcast
Welcome to the Post Status Draft podcast, which you can find on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. Post Status Draft is hosted by Brian Krogsgard and co-host Brian Richards.
In this episode, Brian is joined by guest-host Jay Hoffmann. Jay is the Lead Developer at Reaktiv Studios and the creator and curator of The History of the Web. It is a good time to discuss the history of the web with Jay, as WordPress is ready to celebrate its 15th birthday.
Be sure to subscribe to Jay’s newsletter on the History of the Web website to receive new articles on such a fascinating project.
Brian and Jay discuss his work at Reaktiv, his prior work at Sesame Street Workshop and Random House, and the project he’s worked on for two years now documenting the web’s timeline and history. It was a fun discussion on all fronts.
- The History of the Web
- The history of Flash
- The story of WordPress
- The decade long path to web fonts
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Welcome to the Post Status Draft podcast, which you can find on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. Post Status Draft is hosted by Brian Krogsgard and co-host Brian Richards. In this episode, Brian is joined by guest-host Jay Hoffmann. Jay is the Lead Developer at Reaktiv Studios and the creator and curator of The History of the Web. It is a good time to discuss the history of the web with Jay, as WordPress is ready to celebrate its 15th birthday. Be sure to subscribe to Jay’s newsletter on the History of the Web…
Post Status: Free speech, privacy, and the web
Politics and the web are intersecting more and more. In recent news, at least three WordPress related companies have been getting broad media attention.
In just a few days, we’ve seen GoDaddy shut down a site for violating terms and conditions, as well as Automattic. DreamHost received significant attention for refusing to release site visitor information to the US Department of Justice.
I think the most relevant angle for this website is to note that it’s important for web-based services to be prepared for the unexpected news cycles that revolve around web-based properties.
How well does your PR team know your terms and conditions? What’s your stance on free speech, and when can that cross a line into speech or content that your service is ready to limit? The definitions can be narrow; let’s look at Automattic’s decision to shut down a site called Blood and Soil.
It’s a despicable site, and it has been for a while. Automattic is aware of the sites that exist on WordPress.com, and this isn’t their first rodeo with objectionable sites receiving lots of backlash from advocacy groups. For instance, the Guccifer 2.0 person or group that hacked the Democratic National Committee was on WordPress.com, and they still are. There are countless others, some hacking related, some simply vile or hate-filled.
So what makes a site cross the line for a particular service? GoDaddy’s Ben Butler described to Fast Company that they draw the line between speech and violence:
GoDaddy’s Ben Butler described to Fast Company that they draw the line between speech and violence:
“We strongly support the First Amendment and are very much against censorship on the internet,” writes Ben Butler, director of the Digital Crimes Unit for GoDaddy, in an email. He adds that, “if a site promotes, encourages, or engages in violence against people, we will take action.”
The GoDaddy decision (which Google followed up with as well) was especially interesting because they made the decision as the domain registrar, not a content host. In that case they weren’t actually providing the hosting service.
Do not post direct and realistic threats of violence. That is, you cannot post a genuine call for violence—or death—against an individual person, or groups of persons. This doesn’t mean that we’ll remove all hyperbole or offensive language.
They also have a specific policy (not directly linked from their ToS) for terrorist activity, and a provision to allow them to remove content or users for any reason.
The terrorist in Charlottesville aligned himself with Blood And Soil, prompting Automattic to pull the plug — as the line was crossed.
DreamHost’s pushback to the government was about First Amendment concerns as well, primarily with visitors:
The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visited the website. (Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.)
That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.
Every host deals with requests that may not require visitor information but definitely do require account information. Automattic’s Paul Sieminski provided a helpful post on the types of requests they get, and how they handle them.
The US has broad protections built into the First Amendment covering free speech. Platforms are not required to meet those protections; however, many are strident supporters of the First Amendment. Those protections are often for some of the most unpopular types of content. The Supreme Court has ruled there’s no hate speech exception in the First Amendment, and this ruling has been cited recently in a trademark case.
I think the author of the above-cited op-ed makes a good point:
We can and should speak up against hate. As the Supreme Court makes clear, there’s no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. With that freedom comes a heavy burden for government officials like Baker and Walsh, who must try to keep protected speech from turning into acts of violence.
The burden is also heavy for platforms who are dedicated to providing a place for unpopular opinions. There are many times when the unpopular opinion, or anti-government opinion, is incredibly important to protect. But when speech stems over into violence, then I believe platforms have not only a right, but also a responsibility to take a stand.
It’s important for organizations to be educated about and consistent with their own terms of service, company-wide. I’m afraid these hard questions about speech, rights, and responsibility will be pretty common for a while to come. And as fast as information spreads — for instance, the calls for GoDaddy to shut down a hate site this week came in a fury, part of a quickly viral Twitter post — acting quickly and consistently will be incredibly important.
I’ve talked about platforms and services with some control over their user base. The obvious other side of this is that there is a whole segment of our community with no control over their users. Your theme, plugin, and WordPress itself can be used without permission by absolutely anyone, and of course that’s by design. WordPress or a WordPress-related product could be identified and criticized virally for enabling objectionable users and content
As a community, are we prepared to respond to that?
PS: If you’re a journalist writing about WordPress.com and issues like these, please understand the difference between WordPress.com, owned by Automattic, and WordPress the software. I wrote a handy guide for you.
Post Status: Publish Conference, in pictures
We had a great time learning and networking in Atlanta, and here’s a snippet of our time together. The event consisted of two full days of talks from some pretty amazing speakers.
Special thanks to Liquid Web for being our platinum sponsor, and to Jetpack, Pantheon, and SiteGround for being gold sponsors. Without them, and our wonderful attendees of course, none of this would be possible.
Video is being processed and will be available to all attendees, and we’re working out how exactly to make them available for other folks who may want to see the sessions.
Post Status: WordPress in higher education, with Rachel Cherry — Draft Podcast
Brian is joined by guest-host Rachel Cherry — a Senior Software Engineer at Disney, and the organizer of WP Campus, an event for WordPress in higher education. They discuss many of the things that folks working with WordPress in higher education encounter during this episode.
Prior to working for Disney, Rachel spent around a decade working on the web in higher ed, most recently at the University of Alabama.
- Rachel’s website
- WP Campus, which will be held on July 13-14 in Buffalo, New York.
- The Events Calendar, by Modern Tribe
- University of Alabama Engineering
- Washington State University Github
SiteGround is engineered for speed, built for security, and crafted for WordPress. They offer feature-rich managed WordPress hosting with premium support, and are officially recommended by WordPress.org. Check out SiteGround’s website for a special deal for Post Status listeners, and thanks to SiteGround for being a Post Status partner.
Photo by Found Art Photography
Post Status: Introducing a new way to find high quality WordPress jobs
It’s my pleasure to formally introduce the Post Status WordPress job board. It actually went live two weeks ago, but I wanted to give it time to work out any kinks before broadly promoting it.
Now, I think we’re ready for prime time. So, why do we need another place to list WordPress jobs?
The signal to noise ratio — both for employers seeking qualified candidates, and for candidates finding quality job listings — is pretty low across the board in the job market. Most people who hire technical professionals will tell you that it’s very difficult to find good candidates. And anyone seeking great job opportunities knows how hard it can be to find out the best opportunities, especially at the times you’re actually looking.
The goal for the Post Status WordPress job board is to take advantage of both sides of this equation.
Post Status isn’t a huge website with tons of traffic. But the traffic I do get is from a highly targeted audience of primarily WordPress professionals, or web professionals who use WordPress as a primary tool.
By creating a highly targeted job board, I’m able to increase the signal on both sides; employers can get quality applications, and applicants can find quality employers.
Furthermore, our team — meaning Katie Richards, and myself — go through each employer’s listing to confirm that it’s a qualified listing of someone actually hiring, provides relevant information, and is properly described for the available position.
We’ve already got 20+ jobs and counting, and I know many of them have had applications start to roll in, even without public announcement yet.
If you’d like to submit a job, the process is currently only for Post Status members. We may open that up in the coming weeks, but for now, you can join and post, or if someone from your organization is a member, they can post it.
Listings last for 45 days (the first listings are being extended out starting today), and will be marketed to the Post Status Club — now over 900 WordPress professionals — as well as the free Post Status newsletter, where we’ll send digests of new jobs.
In the future, we may create new features for job seekers to keep an even closer eye on available jobs, but for now, the email and listing page are the place to go. And we may build new tools for employers as we get feedback and see demand for them.
I look forward to this being a valuable resource for the WordPress community. We’re dedicated to making it work well for a long haul, and we expect general activity to increase as the word gets out that it’s there.
So, if you don’t mind, we’d love your help to promote this job board, both now and when you hear of companies hiring and people seeking positions. It is a truly great feeling to know that you helped someone find their next workplace.
So, check out some WordPress jobs!
Post Status: Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine, on growing your company well — Draft Podcast
Welcome to the Post Status Draft podcast, which you can find on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and via RSS for your favorite podcatcher. In this episode, I interview Jason Cohen, the founder of WP Engine and current CTO.
I talked to Jason about a whole lot of things, mostly to do with growing well. Whether you’re growing revenue, company size, or personal development — this is a conversation about growth, and how to do it well.
Unlike many entrepreneurs in the WordPress space, WP Engine isn’t Jason’s first business. He’s done this before, and made plenty of mistakes. He talks about what he’s done differently at WP Engine and how its made him a happier person.
This interview took place at LoopConf, and Jason was a keynote presenter. His LoopConf talk pairs well with our discussion.
You can catch the first segment on video, and the entire conversation is on the audio podcast.
This episode is sponsored by iThemes. The team at iThemes offers WordPress plugins, themes and training to help take the guesswork out of building, maintaining and securing WordPress websites. For more information, check out their website and thank you to iThemes for being a Post Status partner.
Photo by Brian Richards for Post Status