Can WordPress Save the World?

Written by Tom Greenwood - November 29, 2013

Article read time: 4 minutes

At last weeks London WordCamp, David Lockie from Pragmatic Web gave a fascinating and inspirational talk about how WordPress can help save the world.  You can view David’s presentation here.

To summarise, we have some serious issues going on with regards to environmental degradation, resource limits, waste, financial crisis and a growing divide between rich and poor.  These are issues that in many cases, threaten to destroy the world as we know it (that being the human civilisation that we all live in, not the actual planet spinning in space).

So what has WordPress got to do with this?

David proposes that the sharing of information is critical to making positive change in the world.

People need to be educated and inspired to make things better, and that can only happen if we know the truth about what is going on, who is involved and how we can make a difference.  That requires an uncensored means to publish and consume information.  It requires free speech on the web.

There are loads of ways that we share information online, through Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and so on, but in one way or another, all of these are owned and controlled by central organisations that are susceptible to corruption and can manipulate the information that we receive (yes, even Wikipedia is not a truly free source of information).

WordPress on the other hand is owned by the people.  If you download a copy of WordPress, it is owned and controlled by you.  It is a powerful publishing platform that you can install on any webserver and share information on the internet.  No one can control where you store that information or what information you publish.  You can speak your mind and if someone tries to shut you down, you can take your information and load it up somewhere else on the web.  The only people that could really stop you are the ISPs themselves, since they could filter peoples web experience at the point of access.

WordPress is the most popular content publishing platform in the world, powering over 20% of the entire internet and allowing us to share our stories, ideas and experiences.  David proposes that we embrace this and try to maximise the benefit by increasing the number of people using WordPress to share positive information and promote good causes.

So what should we all be doing?

David suggests the following steps:

  1. Encourage more people to use WordPress (over non-open source systems)
  2. Make WordPress better (to give people more power in their hands)
  3. Increase our capacity (by supporting the WordPress project)

So what are we doing?

Wholegrain have always been passionate about using WordPress for good.  Honestly, that’s why we exist.  So here’s an overview of how we’re trying to make the world better with WP:

  1. We promote WordPress through our business and free presentations at events like WordCamp, Food Blogger Connect and our series of free workshops for startups in London
  2. We have given away free themes and plugins in the past but all are now out of date.  Following ToastCamp, we now have a plan to release some new plugins to the community including one for charities that we have been developing for some time.
  3. Encourage clients to donate to the WordPress foundation.  Following David’s suggestion, we’ll be adding an optional donation to our quotes.  You can make a donation here if you like.
  4. Support good causes to use WordPress with free advice, discounted and pro-bono work when we can afford to

If you have other good ideas of how to harness WordPress for good, please feel free to leave a comment. David has suggested creating a showcase of WordPress being used for good, and I think that is a great idea.

Can WordPress save the world?

We think it certainly has huge potential to make the world a better place, but we would love to know what you think.  Please do leave a comment below and share your thoughts and ideas.

One last thing

David was asked how WordPress can directly challenge the fundamentally flawed system of capitalism that is responsible for many of the problems we face as a society.  freedom of information is clearly the core benefit, but there is also one other thing that WordPress does to challenge the status quo.

As one of the world’s most successful open source projects, it is a working case study of a resource based economy.  WordPress demonstrates that people can collaborate to achieve great things without the motivation of money or rules and that the impact of these achievements can be maximised by allowing free access to the resource created (in this case WordPress).  Conventional logic dictates that to create a great online publishing platform or CMS, we need a big company with lots of money to hire developers and push them to build the best tool, backed by a business model to milk as much financial value out of the tool as possible for the parent company.

And yet, there are many companies like that and none of them are able to compete with the community of enthusiasts who get paid nothing to build WordPress.

Many people support the idea of a resource based economy but few people have tangible ideas of how it can be achieved.  I would suggest that a logical first step should be to start out-competing conventional corporations with Open source and Creative Commons resources that we can all benefit from.

To wrap up, I’ll leave you with Jacque Fresco :-)