Yesterday was the 10th birthday of WordPress, the blogging platform from which these words that you are reading are delivered to your glowing rectangle.1 Here is an interesting infographic, showing how dominant the software has become.
WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has typed a love letter to his anthropomorphised project.
I’ve been using WordPress since September 2005, or eighty percent of the platform’s lifetime. I have used every version of the software since the antiquated version 1.5. When I began blogging, WordPress had been downloaded 538,514 times. According to the infographic, that number has risen to more than 66 million. This puts me comfortably into the earliest 1% of users. I was using WordPress before it was cool.
When I began, the default Kubrick design had only just been introduced, and there was even an option to activate an older ‘classic’ template. There were no options for uploading images (you had to do that via FTP or ‘hotlink’ from an existing image online) or integration with social media, and there was no way to change the look and feel of the site unless you knew some CSS and PHP.
However, the two core pieces of functionality that make WordPress so useful were already in place back in 2005 - themes and plugins. By uploading small pieces of stand-alone code, you could change the look (themes) or functionality (plugins) of the site without messing with the core code. That was not a unique feature of WordPress, but I am sure that the simplicity of the way it was implemented contributed to its success.
That, and the fact that WordPress is OpenSource, meaning anyone can edit the code and create themes and plug-ins. I was very impressed when, in 2010, Mullenweg transferred ownership of the WordPress trademark to a non-for-profit company, meaning the platform cannot be sold to an Internet giant, as Tumblr was last week.
Other sites in which I have a hand that use the WordPress platform include The LIP Magazine archive, The Word of an Insignificant Woman, Liberal Conspiracy, and English PEN.
1. Unless, of course, you’re reading this at some point in the near or far future when I have, in an ironic twist, abandoned WordPress for some other software and imported all my old posts.