Automattic's Luca Sartoni on the long-term value of a blog
Automattic, the WordPress company, are teaming with a student journalist to sue a press officer for an unwarranted DCMA take-down
The people behind WordPress.com are backing their bloggers in a censorship case in court
A really impressive addition to the VaultPress back-up service
No-one is inspired by a cubicle-filled office. But we’re locked into thinking about productivity as something that happens in an office. But what should that be? Some people are more productive at home, at the beach, in a co-working space. But remote workers are still viewed with suspicion in most businesses.
Automattic, makers of WordPress.com, are completely distributed. They don’t have an office. Their staff are scattered all over the world. Rosso lives in Milan…
How do they do it? Private chat on IRC, Skype and a bunch of internal blogs are the key communication tools. It means that all the information and discussions in the company are searchable as soon as you join. IRC is their “showing up” in the office. Everyone needs to be a self-starter, though, they need to manage themselves, and they need to over-communicate on their progress.
Companies need to be distributed because they can recruit from a bigger pool of talent. You can move beyond the idea of the Apple Store-radius of recruitment.
They meet once a year (at least) for a mix of fun and work.
The company that was Six Apart is gone. The name and Movable Type are ensconced in Japan, Vox is dead and Typepad is part of SAY Media. It seems an appropriate time for a post-mortem, and that’s just what former Typepad and Movable Type product manager Byrne Reece has done in a long, insightful and revealing post on his own blog. Between the post and the fascinating discussion in the comments, much that happened in the blog platform war of the mid-2000s is captured for posterity, and there’s a whole bunch of lessons in there for today’s web companies. It’s probably about the last word that needs to be said about the fall of Six Apart.
However, there’s one thing I’d like to add, my own bugbear, if you like, that I believe contributed to its fall.
For a company that was, apparently, all about supporting bloggers, it was awful at blogging. Truly, truly awful.
Compare and contrast the posting rate on the Six Apart blogs and the Automattic ones. The main Six Apart blog managed a grand total of 10 posts in the whole of 2010. Movabletype.com? 8 posts. Movabletype.org? 16 posts. The Automattic product blogs produce posts at a feverish rate. The most direct comparison would be wordpress.org/movabletype.org. 38 plays 16. That’s quite a difference. And if you take a moment to compare the posts, you’ll see a world of difference in tone.
And yes, I think this matters. It makes your product look vibrant and alive. It makes it look as if you like your product enough to use it and enjoy using it. And it makes your community feel cared about. A blogging company that doesn’t blog has gone seriously wrong somewhere down the line.
I’ve no idea how or why Six Apart lost its blogging mojo – and find it interesting that SAY Media seems to have it back – but I’d love to know what happened.
First of all, a note to the fanboys: this is NOT an attack on WordPress. WordPress is an excellent piece of blogging software, and undoubtedly the best option for non-technical users looking to self-host. And therein lies the problem.
An interesting couple of days in blogging technology:
- Automattic announced the Prologue theme for WordPress.com, which seems to be an attempt to create Twitter-like functionality to their platform for workgroups
- Genial Chris Alden announced some major changes coming to Typepad, and not before time, too. (Sorry, Chris)
- Movable Type gets an Action Streams plugin which allows you to aggregate you activity around the web on your blog. Expect to see it in action here within the next few days.