Keynote un-musings from Northern Voice

Where to start? As I’d previously mentioned I’ve adopted WordPress as my platform of choice for this blog and today the founding developer of this open source application, Matt Mullenweg [wiki], gave the conference key note. Okay, I don’t mind admitting that I knew nothing about Matt other than his WordPress and Akismet achievements so it was both refreshing and surprising to find out that the guy’s not even reached his mid 20’s yet. What I really find refreshing is that Matt seems to be indicative of what this community is about, open, approachable and ready to share experience.

I was briefly speaking with my wife, Lesley, this morning and, okay, a touch heavy for 8am on a Saturday morning, but I was remarking on how I felt that as a tail-end ‘baby-boomer’ and pre Gen-Xer, there are times that I feel I sit in both camps, or indeed neither.
I don’t really subscribe to the material wealth and financial security thing on one hand, but through years of work there have been times when reasonable financial reward has led to what could be suggested as a comfortable life. But what’s been the end result of the years of toil?

Emigration to Canada has allowed for a real time of reflection as I view a healthy but declining bank balance, and no property, nor the likelihood of affording property in this white hot market. Some might say what a travesty, what a waste, but my values have been shifting for some time and, I seriously question what I’ve achieved over the years. I don’t fit the boomer profile of achievement, nor failure for that matter. To use that ‘oft quoted tech phrase, it’s been a vanilla life. Go figure. Now don’t get me wrong, a fantastic marriage and 2 great kids rate right up there as relationships are the hardest thing to maintain – it takes effort, but what else? Again, some might say that I should be happy with that (marriage and kids) as a contribution and for some that’s fine. Some isn’t me though. Mid-life crises I hear you cry, well maybe that’s a name that’s too often used. I’d prefer to call it reflection rather than crisis. Crisis is really associated with calamity or catastrophe, and reflection to me is more about a period of introspection before moving on. However, moving on to what?

That’s where I come back to the keynote. Matt touched on bloggers seeking expression through the presentation of their blog as well as the content – the need to personalise, not just fly with a standard theme or template. I actually think, that’s where I’m at, not wanting to fly with the standard template. Matt also suggested that from a communication perspective, form dictates writing and this led to his assertion that software should be invisible to facilitate creativity. I’m with him on that, open the world to non-tech savvy and a greater pool of talent will hopefully appear. Other areas covered were about respecting people’s time (something that rarely happens in this 24/7/365 life) by being able to filter the noise that can exist online from advertising. In a final pitch for participation in developing open source applications Matt used a nice paraphrase from JFK – “It’s not what your software can do for you, it’s what you can do for your software”. Feedback helps developers and better apps will be crafted by constructive feedback, so be involved.

This really didn’t end up as the post I’d thought it would be. It’s strange how listening to what many would consider to be a geeky keynote, can spark the mind off in all sorts of directions. Hey, the joys of blogging.

A good start to the day, Matt was engaging, humorous and thoughtful. I wish him every success in his life.

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