Estimated reading time: 4 minutes —
Some students and I were Skyping with Stelarc the other day…
Yes, I know, fucking Stelarc!
Yes he showed us the ear. After the meeting one of my students drew a line in the air, gestured to one side, and said, “this is my life before today,” then pushed his hand across the invisible line, “and this is my life after seeing Stelarc’s ear.”
But this post isn’t about Stelarc. Well, mostly it isn’t. A little bit it’s about his (mostly amazing) website. During the conversation he started to mention some materials on his website, and then had to caveat his own speech, “well, my website’s not up to date.” Incredible but true! Even Stelarc has trouble keeping the website current. Vaneeesa’s website on the other hand, is pretty close to current. We recently performed VB32, and the Web/Blog/Site has performance documents up thru VB31, and production documents even including VB32. Is this because I rock more than Stelarc? hahaha, yeah, not likely. Is it because I never sleep? Well, that helps. But mostly it’s because WordPress monumentally rocks.
The world is filled with artists with out-of-date or under-construction websites. The world is filled with artists who have to give their shit to other artists to put it on their website for them!!! And then there is WordPress.
At CAA I met totally awesome artists with “under construction” or anemic websites. With WordPress (or another blog or tumblog platform) they could have snapped a photo right then and there and posted it with a caption – bam! – your online presence is already deeper, richer, stronger, more current. Today you can photo post to most blog platforms from your phone too.
No, just using WordPress doesn’t guarantee you’ll post your stuff or be current or ever get sleep. But it sure helps. WordPress makes it about as fast and painless to throw new content out to the world as I can imagine. I just don’t see how a fancy flash website that gets updated once a year helps anybody. With WordPress, if you’re CSS-friendly, you can knock yourself out, if like me you’re not, you can pay a little cash to a great theme designer like Woo Themes and have a great look that’s fairly easy to maintain.
I do have to say that tired, old Blogger has been updating itself for a while now and is really pretty cool these days. And yes, if you really insist on knowing, I did have a fling with younger, sexier Tumblr. I do love tumblr a lot: what then-twenty-year-old David Karp launched in 2007 is amazing. Tumblr is an awesome party blog. It makes me giggle just to say it. Still, at the end of the day, WordPress is the platform you come home to. The power, the elegance, the reliability. Really, what other blogging platform would you seriously think of taking home to mom?
Oh yeah, and my off-again-on-again boyfriend Ze Moo’d dump me for good if I strayed from Open Source WordPress. The way I see it, if you care about freedom, you should use WordPress because it’s open source. On the other hand, if you care about design and functional excellence, then you should use WordPress because it’s fully awesome. Whichever way you go, I think your results will be great.
I should also say that I have my own, bastardized definition of “open” which includes my sense of inter-operability. I love that Linux won the OS battle for research machines… and for commercial machines… and that this jet I’m flying home on is probably running Linux… but the truth is, Linux didn’t win the consumer OS battle. For me, paradoxical as it may sound, Windows is the open-er platform on the consumer machine. No, of course Windows isn’t open-open, it’s totally proprietary, but when the bulk of the human race uses it, it’s the place to share and exchange the most widely.
I mention all that only because all the cool kids swear you have to run WordPress.org. That it’s the most turbo, the most controlled, and since it’s your install, perhaps even the most open. Thing is, the code may be more open that way, but you’re “forking” (another Vaneeesa bastardized term use) off to a private blog island. When you blog on Worpdress.com, you not only get a low-maintenance, high-performance, open-source blog, but you’re, uh, un-forked, or swimming along with so many other amazing bloggers that appear on your dashboard, and that you can reblog into your newsfeed when the content motivates you. Masters of augmented reality like John Craig Freeman, uber-gamers like Ironyca, they’re all here.
Because WordPress.com kicks ass!
If you talk about Art, Culture, Activism, or Identity, I hope you do, or will, use WordPress. If you need any help with it… just ask me!
Whew! My apologies for the gooey love poem! haha. Seriously though, if you’ve heard me whine on twitter, or even if you haven’t, I’m sure you know how frustrating the various platforms we weave our virtual lives on can, at times, be, and I do think WP has done an exceptional job at being powerful and efficient. Of course, even a love poem can still have a wish list, so here’s mine:
1. GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Yes, the WordPress.com stats are very nice. But why force us to move to WordPress.org just to get full Google Analytics. Tumblr lets users use GA, I’d love it if WP.com would too!
2. THEME DOCUMENTATION
I’ll use WooThemes as my example only because they’re my favorite, as far as I know, the same is true of the other Premium Theme Designers as well. If I use WordPress.org and buy a WooTheme from WooThemes, I get access to their awesome, full documentation. If I use WordPress.com and buy a WooTheme from WordPress.com/Automattic I get no access to documentation (last time I checked) I’m actually blocked from the great documentation on the WooThemes site. The WordPress.com Theme Forum peeps are great it’s true, but they’re fishing to help you solve issues that could have been solved by reading the WooThemes documentation! It’s crazy. If I’m buying a great WooTheme I should have access to the great WooThemes documentation. Shouldn’t I?
I get that WP.com trades restrictions, like on scripting, for overall platform stability. You can’t argue with stability. No number of features would be worth it if the platform was unreliable. But in the age of video, having my video options limited to YouTube and Vimeo, with most other things, like a Kickstarter video, just to name one, either unusable or having to do ridiculous acrobatics courtesy of VodPod to get the video on the page, that’s just a tough limit to have to live with here in the 21st century.