WordPress 20th anniversary

It’s been a while since I last wrote on WPStress.com. So many things changed in the last few years, a global pandemic being the biggest of those changes. Uncertainty times we faced, with major or minor lockdowns, businesses changing their products and services to adjust to this new reality. 

A lot of businesses moved online. WordPress and WooCommerce took a large role in helping people and organizations to convert to a digital-first economy. Some businesses thrived in this new era, others didn’t.

Personally, it wasn’t a good time. Not that me or my close family had any issues with COVID-19. We’re lucky to live in a country that fully adopted strict lockdowns in the beginning and, after, vaccination. And supported individuals and businesses. Therefore, I felt protected.

But, on the other hand, uncertainty had a large role in our daily lives. Would we endure against this invisible threat? Would our jobs still be there? Would people look for our services and our work after this times? Tough questions we’d make all the time.

I work with a training company. We ran in-classroom training when everything was shutdown. We had to convert the classes to a videoconference model, with no preparation whatsoever. We did manage to take that step and continue to offer our courses. And people adopted this model, perhaps with less friction than we anticipated, teachers included. After the pandemic, our videoconference hybrid model remained, as a lot of people still feel more secure (or just comfortable) learning from a distance.

Let’s not talk just now about the long-term consequences of (not just) the pandemic, including inflation crisis, supply chain delays, rising costs, etc. 

We’re now in a very different world. More polarized, more aggressive, more opened to aggressive speech, violent ideas, influenced by a small number of power-hungry and chaos lovers, individuals and organizations alike.

Social media services, which weren’t already the best examples of healthy communication and sharing, thrived with this increased violence and polarization. Good times for shareholders, awful for balanced users, who watched their browsing habits subverted by hate speech, fake news, and conspiracy lunnies. More then ever, having a safe place to communicate and share thoughts has become a necessity for those anxious for sanity.

I’m not sure that this new online status quo has motivated those unhappy with it to new platforms, including their own WordPress sites. My guess is – and this 100% my assumption, I have zero data to back it up – that personal sites didn’t grow that much. Certainly not even close to webshops. On the other hand, there seems to have been a grow in personal branding websites. The so called influencers and coaches movements having a significant contribution to this grow. As the online learning became much more usual, it helped to fuel this kind of websites.

I have to confess it wasn’t a great time for me. I’ve been working remotely for a long time now. The focus on online communication has been negative, if not hurtful. For the same reasons I’ve stated before.

Although all the recent changes in WordPress have made my use of it very dynamic – continuous learning is the only way to follow the pace –, I had much more trouble to focus on specific projects. Client projects, company projects, or personal projects like this.

So, why now?

The last months, beside the inflation crisis and the high rise of cost of living, have seen also the rise of AI as the new omnipresent deity, stretching out to all kinds of uses. The world is changing, and changing fast. Probably faster than I ever witnessed. Or maybe is just me on the way to obsolescence, perceiving the surrondings with a fast growing panic.

I feel that, to understand and embrace this fast pace, I need to practice a lot. I need to focus on what I’ve done best in the past, and what I can do better with this new tools and raison d’être.

WordPress turned 20, I turned 50 just a couple of weeks back. I’m curious – more than curious, anxious, craving even – how we can adapt to this brave new world of AI agents, prompts, and endless services.

I’ll do a separate piece on the evolution of WordPress’ block editor. But I just witnessed some of its uses in partnership with AI: it’s challenging, and inspiring.

I’m motivated to test and teach the combined uses of WordPress and AI services to deliver a better content creation experience. I believe a lot of people can benefit from the evolution of the content creation flow inside WordPress.

On the other hand, the multiplication of AI services, uses, and integrations creates a tremendous difficulty in identifying and separating the services that are really useful for workflows, from those that are more like a proof of concept or to be used in very restricted niches and with limited possibilities to maintain themselves.

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