WP Briefing: Episode 47: Letter from the Executive Director

On episode forty-seven of the WordPress Briefing podcast, Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy shares her vision and current thinking for the WordPress open source project in 2023. Rather read it? The full letter is also available.

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


Editor: Dustin Hartzler
Logo: Javier Arce
Production: Santana Inniss
Song: Fearless First by Kevin MacLeod

Show Notes

Join the 6.2 Release!
Submit Topics for the Community Summit!


[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:00] 

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. Here we go.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:00:40] 

Last month at State of the Word, I shared some opening thoughts about why WordPress. For me, this is an easy question, and the hardest part is always knowing which lens to answer through. Though I always focus on the philosophical parts of the answer, I know that I often speak as an advocate for many types of WordPressers.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:01:00] 

So as we prepare ourselves for the start of a new year, I have a few additional thoughts that I’d like to share with you, my WordPress community, to take into the year with you. 

Firstly, the Four Freedoms. If you have already listened to State of the Word, you have heard my take on the philosophical side of open source and the freedoms it provides.

But if you didn’t, then the TL;DR on that is that open source provides protections and freedoms to creators on the web that I really think should just be a given. But there are a couple of other things about the Four Freedoms, and especially the way that WordPress does this kind of open source-y thing that I think are worth noting as well.

One of those things is that WordPress entrepreneurs, those who are providing services or designing sites, building applications, they have proven that open source provides an ethical framework for conducting business. No one ever said that you aren’t allowed to build a business using free and open source software, and I am regularly heartened by the way that successful companies and freelancers make the effort to pay forward what they can.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:02:02]

Not always for the sole benefit of WordPress, of course, but often for the general benefit of folks who are also learning how to be entrepreneurs or how to kind of navigate our ecosystem. And the other thing that I love about the Four Freedoms and the way that WordPress does it is that leaders in the WordPress community, no matter where they are leading from, have shown that open source ideals can be applied to the way we work with one another and show up for one another.

As a community, we tend to approach solution gathering as an us-versus-the-problem exercise, which not only makes our solutions better, it also makes our community stronger. 

As I have witnessed all of these things work together over the years, one thing that is clear to me is this: not only is open source an idea that can change our generation by being an antidote to proprietary systems and the data economy, but open source methodologies represent a process that can change the way we approach our work and our businesses.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:03:01] 

The second big thing that I want to make sure you all take into the year with you is that we are preparing for the third phase of the Gutenberg project. We are putting our backend developer hats on and working on the APIs that power our workflows. That workflows phase will be complex. A little bit because APIs are dark magic that binds us together, but also because we’re going to get deep into the core of WordPress with that phase.

If you want to have impactful work for future users of WordPress, though, this is the phase to get invested in. This phase will focus on the main elements of collaborative user workflows. If that doesn’t really make sense to you, I totally get it. Think of it this way, this phase will work on built-in real-time collaboration, commenting options in drafts, easier browsing of post revisions, and things like programmable editorial, pre-launch checklists.

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:04:00] 

So phases one and two of the Gutenberg project had a very ‘blocks everywhere’ sort of vision. And phase three and, arguably, phase four will have more of a ‘works with the way you work’ vision.

And my final thought for you all as we head into the year is this, there are a couple of different moments that folks point to as the beginning of the Gutenberg project. Some say it was State of the Word 2013, where Matt dreamed on stage of a true WYSIWYG editor for WordPress. Some say it was State of the Word 2016, where we were all encouraged to learn JavaScript deeply. For a lot of us though, it was at WordCamp Europe in 2018 when the Gutenberg feature plugin first made its way to the repo.

No matter when you first became aware of Gutenberg, I can confirm that it feels like it’s been a long time because it has been a long time. But I can also confirm that it takes many pushes to knock over a refrigerator. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:05:00] 

For early adopters, both to the creation of Gutenberg as well as its use, hyperfocus on daily tasks makes it really hard to get a concept of scale.

And so I encourage everyone this year to look out toward the horizon a bit more and up toward our guiding stars a bit more as well. Because we are now, as we ever were, securing opportunity for those who come after us because of the opportunity that was secured for us by those who came before us. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:05:33] 

That brings us now to our small list of big things. It’s a very small list, but two pretty big things. The first thing on the list is that the WordPress 6.2 release is on its way. If you would like to get started contributing there, you can wander over to make.WordPress.org/core. You can volunteer to be part of the release squad. You can volunteer your time just as a regular contributor, someone who can test things — any of that. 

[Josepha Haden Chomphosy 00:06:00] 

We’ll put a link in the show notes. And the second thing that I wanted to remind you of is that today is the deadline to submit topics for the Community Summit that’s coming up in August. That comes up in the middle of August, like the 22nd and 23rd or something like that. 

We’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. If you already have chatted with a team rep about some things that you really want to make sure get discussed at the community summit, I think that we can all assume that your team rep has put that in. But if not, it never hurts to give it a second vote by putting a new submission into the form.

And that, my friends, is your small list of big things. Thank you for tuning in today for the WordPress Briefing. I’m your host, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, and I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

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