Insanely Great

Statistics show that as of today, there are about 71 million web sites running WordPress. Those sites publish 500,000 new posts per day and are viewed by more than 320 million people every month.

Mind boggling, isn’t it? Kind of like the national debt or the number of stars in the cosmos, it’s difficult to even wrap your mind around a figure of that magnitude.

I’ve been a WordPress user for — what, probably seven or eight years by now. Before WP, it was Movable Type. Remember that one? Yeah, it still out there. Let’s see, prior to Movable Type my site was developed and maintained using nothing more than Windows’ built-in Notepad program and an ancient version of Photoshop. That goes all the way back to the site’s genesis in 1995.

I dropped Movable Type when publisher Six Apart decided to move away from the open source model and begin charging for the software. At that time, MT was the undisputed champion platform for bloggers. Nothing else even came close. WordPress existed, but it wasn’t half the product it is today, and the user base was small. The decision to move away from open source started a mass exodus away from the Movable Type platform, and I was one of those who jumped ship.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind paying for software; in fact, there are dozens of software packages I have paid for over the years and continue to buy. But there’s something insanely great (as Steve Jobs would say) about products developed under the open source model. The talent it attracts, the size of the developer community, the motivation of those who labor over the code. It can be messy at times, and there are no guarantees about quality, security, or anything else, but there’s no arguing about the success WordPress has achieved, and that’s why I use it here.

WordPress is unique because while it’s still a free open source product, one of the developers — Matt Mullenweg — managed to built a for-profit company based on WP. That’s not easy to do. Even Google has trouble making money off the free stuff it has developed.

Cleverly named Automattic, Mullenweg built it to the point where he’s investing in other start-ups through a venture capital firm he founded called Audrey Co.

If you’re a computer nerd, you probably know all this. I bring it up because one of the firms Audrey Co. invested in (and later sold to AOL) was About.me. The gist of the site is that it’s a single place to create a personal splash/bio page and aggregate all the other content you’ve got around the web. I don’t know what it is about this thing, but I spent a whole day playing with the profile creator. It’s addicting.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m on the road, camped out in a Hilton hotel room in central New Jersey with a bunch of free time on my hands. Ah, the glorious life of a charter pilot! Not that I’m complaining. The money is good and you don’t have to look far to find a boat load of unemployed pilots, so you won’t find me looking this gift horse in the mouth.

Anyway, after playing with About.me for a while I came up with a simple profile with a short bio and links to other social networking sites I use.

It took me about two minutes to create this profile.

The only problem is, I’m not sure what to use this thing for! I’ve already got a web site. All the profile info is here on the House of Rapp. It’s a testament to the elegance and beauty of the product that I want to find a use for it even though I don’t have the need. It’s much like an Apple product in that regard. In fact, I can totally imagine Steve Jobs using About.me. Considering the fact that Apple just supplanted Exxon as the world’s most valuable company, that might be the best testament they could ever ask for.

If you don’t have a web site of your own, About.me is so well executed that it could do for you what WordPress did for me: become your own personal home base on the web, the URL you put on business cards and attach to your signature. Give in a whirl.

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