WordPress started in 2003. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on hundreds of thousands of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day. But you already knew that!
By itself this blogging tool used to be just that: a way to put your thoughts out there, so anyone with a internet connection could read it. But WordPress is not just about blogging, at least not anymore. While still limited in terms of “out of the box” functionality compared with other CMS out there, WordPress managed to shine thought it’s plugins and themes.
WordPress is slowly making it’s way into the corporate world as well: Yahoo, CNN, New York Times, Ford, Nike are just a few of big names that implemented it for it’s ease of use, fast development times, cost reduction and easy maintenance of the platform. Oh… and U.S. Government Agencies are also using WordPress.
So where do we go from here? Recently it was announced WordPress to merge with WordPress MU. This will probably appear with the 3.0 launch. This seams to be just one of the big steps towards a social web platform. The next step will probably be to integrate more social media features from BuddyPress.
The power of a blog is in its network of users. Since web users are becoming accustomed to a culture of participation, publishers will look to include tools that will better facilitate the conversation. Tools like user profile pages and groups from BuddyPress will make a good additions to blogs. An issue could be the “yet another account and password” problem but solutions like oAuth or using accounts from other more prestigious social networks (login in with your facebook or google account) will help the transition from simple comments to complex communication.
While all these extra features mean nothing for end users that just wants to blog (and for which the WordPress was created initially) they will mean the world for power bloggers, web-developers and web entrepreneurs by transforming expensive and time consuming activities into cheap and fast ones. Implementing ideas, interconnecting social networks, creating learning platforms, building multilingual information hubs, using community feedback to build a better business, all this will get easier to implement (for the web-developer) and use (for the end user).
Another interesting thing happening in the WordPress community is the adoption of GPL licensing for payed theme clubs that previously used proprietary licenses. In my opinion, this is because Matt Mullenweg started to pressure non-GPL theme clubs and designers. He did this by voicing his opinion, removing all non-GPL themes and theme designers that have even the slightest contact with non-GPL themes from the Theme Repository and by making it easy to install themes directly from the backend of WordPress. While this can be debated indefinitely one thing is sure: it’s good for the end user and the community! For WordPress as a platform this is even better since most of these themes are good quality and people can now reuse the professionally developed code in future projects without the fear of legal repercussions.
WordPress definitely has the opportunity to become a great social platform. The same way blogging changed the publishing world it’s fair to say that social networking will change the blogging platform to facilitate communication and collaboration. It’s appropriate.