Ten years of WordPress and interesting trivia from blogging history

Ten years and counting. Happy birthday WordPress.

Quite an achievement this in today’s technology-fuelled world where a calendar year is in itself a very long time.

The occasion merits a little investigation into the roots of WordPress. Here’s a gem of a blog which brings home the nostalgia in shovels – it’s an early blog postwhere founder Matt Mullenweg ruminates on an appropriate name for his project and cofounder Mike Littlecomments – and WordPress takes off. A moment in blogging history huh?

I’ve always found that an understanding of the folks behind momentous events is interesting – so who are these guys?

Check out http://ma.tt/which interestingly claims Matt’s “unlucky in cards” but he seems to have been lucky everywhere else. Mike little’s website proclaims “word press specialist” – and we really need say any more? So much for the WordPress guys and happy birthday again.

I guess its also time to celebrate some special moments in blogging history to wrap this post.

According to nymag.com. the first blog ever was created by a student (Justin hall) in 1994.This blog (http://links.net/) is still active and updated – and Justin is now with a mobile phone entertainment company. Go take a look at history today!

And then in 1997, John Barger shortened the phrase “logging the web” into “weblog” and is therefore a father of sorts to the blogging world. His weblog http://www.robotwisdom.com/ is still online – but please have a few hours handy before browsing it – it’s mammoth in scope.

A couple of years later, Peter Merholtz shortened “weblog” to “blog” (apparently he called it “we blog” on the sidebar of his wonderful http://www.peterme.com/). So here’s father number 2 – from a naming standpoint. And this is a wonderful blog to read too – and very well designed at that.

The year 1999 was also special for one other reason it turns out: a team of three friends ganged up to create the world’s first free blogging service (blogger.com). And to that we owe you many, many thanks – blogger team. Now they are a part of google and from their “about” page we understand they are a little big bigger but just as focused on helping people find their voice on the web.

But my favourite blogging story relates to this anecdote relating to a lady named Heather Armstrong. Hers’ was the first recorded case of a person being fired for blogging (yes!) about her workplace on her personal blog http://dooce.com/ (and yes dooce.com is still very much alive and current). As a result, we now have a new english word “dooced” which the urban dictionaryinforms us means “getting fired because of something you wrote in your blog”.

On that note, let’s look forward to many more years of blogging adventures (and hopefully we aren’t dooced in the process!).

Armstrong, Gibran and lessons for all of us?

Lance Armstrong has come clean on his usage of performance-enhancing drugs – and the world has another fallen hero. Lots of fans feel cheated – perhaps rightly so. Before playing judge, I wanted to check what Gibran would have to say on a topic like this – and The Prophet as always didn’t disappoint.

Here’s him speaking on “Crime and Punishment:

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder to your world.

But I say that even as the holy and the righteousness cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each of you,

So too the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,

So too the wrong doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

Or to put it another way, we get what we deserve (heroes in this case). “Take a good look at yourself first man!“ the sage seems to be saying.

After this admonishment, he seems to suggest we ought to perhaps even thank the wrong-doer – try this piece of logic from later in the essay:

You are the way and the wayfarers.

And when one of you falls down, he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.

Aye, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, have not removed the stumbling stone.

So the fallen hero sets an example for the others who follow – and therefore is a teacher of sorts.

And interestingly, Armstrong said this in his interview with Oprah ((source BBC):

Oprah: Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times?

Armstrong: Not in my opinion, that generation. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.

Uncanny huh? Eerily the Prophet’s prophecy from 1923 rings true even now – ninety years later. Maybe instead of spending our time on the “blame and victim stories”, some self-contemplation and course correction will get us to a happier, virtuous society? And time to grab a copy of “The Prophet” too?!

Pongal – a day of celebration and reflection

Every ending gives birth to a new begining. Let’s welcome Pongal, the harvest thanksgiving festival.

Today we big adeau to winter and long nights.

We thank nature, man and god for the year past.

Our energies are renewed – as we welcome warmer, happier (hopefully!) times

Hold a second though, should we also not reflect for a minute on its relevance for us:

Our anscestors sowed grains and reaped a harvest. What did we sow, and what did we harvest?

Our anscestors lived in sync with a cyclical nature – and adapted to nature’s seasons. Winter went only to come the next year. Today, we live in a technology-fueled world with several “step” disruptions. Video tapes came and vanished, VCDs, DVDs, Blue ray….each comes and goes – but for ever – as its replacement takes center stage.

I typed my first blog on a PC at home, the next few on a laptop, then moved onto a tablet and this one on a phablet on the “go”. This is cool.

An impacted Ozone layer and El Nino, titanium wars, microwave hazards are uncool.

So technologies are cool, the way we use them may not quite be so. Time to turn back and ponder – what did we do last year, what did we harvest? And what do we look for this new year?

A book review post

So here it is, first true blog post of 2013 for me. A lots happened over the course of the week, perhaps better to mull over the few books that have come my way this year.

Devdutt pattanaik’s book 7 secrets of Shivais a must read for anyone who is curious about Hindu symbolism. He wades into the symbols and brings alive Shiva, Parvati, their vehicles and children and explains what they mean to us. Myths and symbols interweave in this gem of a book – and the journey leaves you with reverence for these gods and gratitude toward this author. And if you read closely, you also pick up a few priceless tips on life and how to live successfully and be fulfilled at the same time – now, that in itself is worth a read right?

The other book I happened to read was on antifragility. This is a whopper of a book too. Quintessential Taleb, it leverages his deep understanding of probability (and tons of common sense) to peel away the noise around you – and reveals life as it is. You come away with many gems, sample this:

“Absence of evidence cannot be construed as evidence of absence”. If that’s a touch abstract sounding, here’s an example – just because we have found no side effect to a new drug (absence of evidence), we cannot state that there is no side effect at all (evidence of absence) – all it could imply is that we haven’t found any yet.

Anti fragile stuff makes you stronger when stressed – and is therefore the rightful opposite of fragility (which gets weakened by stress). This is a new idea because we generally consider “robustness” (which is ability to bear the stress) as the opposite. If this looks abstract too, think about “fasting” which makes you stronger over time (or for that matter even vaccines) – stuff which makes your body more antifragile while medicines which provide instance relief but harm the body in the long run are fragile.

Add another super insight – some volatility (stressors) actually are good for the system because they make the organism (or system) anti fragile. For example, a taxi driver (who experiences volatility of income on a day-day basis but similar earnings as his brother who is employed in a comfy job with a corporate) is more robust than his brother. The brother lives with a false sense of security (that his financial security is assured for ever) only to find himself in “BIG” trouble if (and when)his job gets terminated without notice. Loss of clients, war or other such stressors on impact the taxi driver way less (and in many cases may even improve his earnings!). Taleb reasons that Nature is antifragile and therefore recommends immense caution (or dire need) before messing with nature’s reactions (so a risky surgery is recommended only in the case of a dying patient, not for those who have a chance to recover through other means).

The book goes on – providing tons of valuable thoughts. It provides you a new set of eyes to see the world in – one that looks at fragility as it really is. Why is this important? Taleb informs us that the world is becoming more prone to “black swans” and it is only such insights that will help us navigate better.

Now I am not Devdutt, nor am I Taleb – and therefore would have embellished their thoughts for sure during the course of this narrative – apologies authors. These are “must reads” though and I would encourage you to pop over to the nearest bookshop (or order them on your kindle) and start reading…