WordPress…civilization…where will it end?

WordPress…civilization…where will it end?

…in which we consider our third—or is it our fourth?—makeover….

Some time last year the various web and cultural planets I follow—perfunctorily, even lazily, I have to admit—came into alignment. I had an epiphany about the work we’re doing here at wikiGong.com. That is, an epiphany about our web page, not about the various things we actually do. A very minor epiphany.

Some (even more) minor insights that led up to this:

  • HTML5 is real and it has become pervasive. Suddenly things once impossible—like embedding video— are not only easy: they’re nearly inevitable; almost unavoidable. I discovered this in WordPress while blogging about SoundWalk 2012 from Stockholm on a smartphone…after struggling with embedding video on a WikiMedia site throughout the previous summer. Oh, well.
  • If “media” can now be embedded almost anywhere—and particularly in WordPress—it is probably no longer necessary to maintain separate, linked databases of, say, audio and images, or videos. So, like it or not, our “triune site” concept—front page in WordPress, collaboration pages on MediaWiki, and audio files on ccHost—is no longer necessary, or even advisable, assuming WordPress handles any media? Yup. Oh, well.
  • And WordPress itself has moved on. There are now cool, reusable templates that let any would-be Renaissance (wo)man get out of the way of direct HTML and CSS design and just…well, actually, just post, if that’s what (s)he’s doing. Cool. And…oh, well.

WordPress has now adopted so many features it does (almost) everything we wanted:

  • Embed any electronic media : still, video, sound
  • Announce to the world what we’re doing
  • Document stuff we’ve done
  • Allow download for re-use (OK, still early days here…)

Time to rework the site. Again. Every eighteen months, commensurate with Moore’s Law. Not exactly what I signed up for.

I’m not sure I ever thought that what WordPress is designed to do is what I was doing: blogging; posting; whatever. I thought I was distributing sound. Making things available. Accessible. Pushing content that wasn’t stories or home movies or self-reflection (yeah, yeah, laugh!) but stuff which could be useful. Sound samples, for whatever purpose! Remixable for any purpose (with attribution).

That’s still what this site is about. Accessibility. Appropriat(e)(ing) technology. There are vast troves of data out there and who better than artists to find (identify) and exploit them? What if we poured it all back? Demographics, economics, astrophysics, ergonomics….

We (humans) are self-encoding pattern-recognition engines, among many other things. Way below the level of “morality” and “purpose”—the conscious level of those terms—lurks something fundamental: wee seek patterns. Need patterns. Insist on patterns. Because over generations, that is what will be refined: the patterns we pass on. Through any means available: oral, written, etched, painted, recorded, digitized, transmitted…passed on.

Anti-entropy machines. Life. People. Myth. Culture. Civilization, if you will.

I continue my life-long struggle with categories. The web—WordPress and MediaWiki in particular—seem to be prolonging this round. Could it be that surrender (not to be confused with stamina) is just not in my nature? Or perhaps I really am just going about this all wrong, like trying to self-learn surfing after thirty.

This raises the spectre of porting. All these databases…this finite life. A web moving on: solving this…or not. In the end, it’s all work, and work takes time: to port, or to maintain? That is this question.