Episode 409 WordPress Potpourri With Damon Cook

Show Summary

Rob Cairns talks to Damon Cook about WordPress.

Show Highlights:

  1. What changes are coming?
  2. What is Damon excited about in WordPress?
  3. Things Rob and Damon would like to see in WordPress.

Show Notes

Hey Everybody Rob here again and today I’m with my guest Damon Cook. How are you, my friend?

I am doing great, excellent.

Yeah, it’s good. It’s good to talk to you again. You know, you and I have known each other a while. We’ve had a couple of conversations. So this is just another good one. Yeah. And I was saying it was saying we it was funny. We were talking before we went to record. I really need to start recording all the outtakes beforehand because, yeah, the information is better than.


Start. Just start rolling.


I always like to start and I think I know your story, but I’m gonna ask anyway, is how did you get into WordPress and how did that kind of? Mature. Funny.

Sure. Yeah, I’m. I don’t remember the year, but it’s been at least a decade that I’ve been, you know, and playing with WordPress daily and working with it. But I know that, you know, I started in a state higher Ed State School for New York and I was a. Instructional technologist and one of the things we. We got proposed to do was coming up, coming up with the internal CMS intranet alternative because they were using Lotus notes at the time. So maybe that helps people.

Ohh God.

So they are looking for an Internet replacement and you know we in state fashion and set up a panel and. It’s you gotta look at all sorts of vendors and it turns into that. That was my first introduction to that kind of process. We one of the things was looking at open source and WordPress and Drupal came into the top, you know conversation and I quickly. Got fascinated with WordPress and one of my colleagues took on Drupal and we continue to champion that for a while and. But yeah, and then I started using WordPress and a bunch of other capacities at that job and then when I left there, I went into agency land quickly and was doing front end development and from there on out, it was all all always WordPress focused. I worked, you know, for agencies that had were using WordPress. Daily and building sites for clients in WordPress. And then transitioned into developer relations is about almost, I think, a year and a half ago or almost two years ago. Yeah, so.

Developer Relationship relations has its challenges, doesn’t it at times?

Yes, absolutely, absolutely. It’s a it’s a new, I mean I. Still, I don’t know. As far as like a industry roll, I I don’t know how long it’s been around. I would garner guests like maybe the last five years. And I still feel like it’s very new and very fluid in what people’s expectations and you know, thoughts on what it is externally even internally at different companies. So it’s interesting, yeah.


It really is. It kind of forces you to stay up to date on what’s going on, doesn’t it? What? What do you like to admit it or not? Because.

Yeah, absolutely.

You guys, you. Are being in dev relationships. You have people coming to you for advice for help all the time. I’m sure your your calendar is probably full of that kind of stuff.

Yep, Yep, definitely. And yeah, and just lately I’ve been more even giving back to the the WordPress project working on 6.45 release so. It’s it’s. Yeah, it’s a lot of a lot of hats and a lot of crossing, a lot of vectors so.

It is 6.5 is coming at the time of this record beta one is just dropped a couple days ago. Betas usually drop on Tuesdays. For those who don’t know, typically.


I didn’t even know.

That it’s just I didn’t.

Yeah, that’s that’s typically the schedule for 6/5. So beta two should drop next week and then so on. What’s the thing you’re most excited about in 65?

Well, yeah, I don’t I. I mean the kind of the feature items are certainly the font library and like, I’m definitely excited about the block bindings AP. Guy, which yeah, has. Is it really? I feel like it’s yet to be explored kind of in a lot of ways what that can do, but just associating like, you know, block attributes with dynamic data, that’s really, really interesting and I’m I’ll be curious to.

See where it goes and. So I think that’s the way.

Yeah, for me. For me it’s the font library I I’m hoping they get that tidied up. I’m hoping it happens. I really would have liked to have seen some media library stuff going to 65, but I don’t think it’s happening. I think it’s been pushed back again and for me that from a a user and the designer and the usability standpoint, I think the media library is becoming a bit of an issue like it’s so.


Antiquated. If you want to put it that way. It hasn’t been.


I I mean I I get a sense that the I know the data views are a part of the 6.5 release which is kind of, you know I look at it as the like, you know, integrating a lot of the components that could possibly go into a redesign of the media.


Library so I I think that the data views is kind of an exploration and and kind of scaffolding of some of the ideas that yeah, some of the components in UI and experience that could go into the media library. So I think that is like it’s a step forward but it’s just not you know it’s not obvious that it’s affecting.


You know, there’s no thought intentionally into what what that will be for the media library.

Yeah. And I think down the down the road, we’re also probably in for a bit of a UI change too on the back end eventually, but I don’t think that’s scheduled, that’s not scheduled for 6/5 either as far as I know. So.

I just I. Oh yeah.

No. Yeah. And I think that’s again, I mean that’s what the data views a lot of it in a lot of ways. That’s just you know like a of a scale of like here’s the whole admin redesign, you know the data views are kind of like here’s 5% of it. You know, we’re just getting the, the, the ground. You know. Some of the the stuff laid out so.

Yeah. Yeah, it’s so true. I would encourage anybody who wants to to play with it. Download the beta, get the beta plug-in installed. It will do your updates for you. And like and like, have her go and see what’s going on. And then and then jump on some of the conversation. Because I think part of the problem in the WordPress to me is because we’re so open. There’s a lot of the people get involved and then a lot of people that don’t and you’re gonna hate me for doing this, but if you see a bug and you don’t know how to open a bug bug, people like demon cause don’t help you open the track ticket like they come to these guys.

Yeah. Yep. And and I, yeah, I do. I I agree. I think there’s a lot of folks talking. And it it’s great whether you know it’s productive conversation or not. But I think, yeah, just reach out if you see a bug or you want to know if it’s a bug or I’m happy to to kind of dig in and verify things and if if it’s not open a ticket and. Yeah. I think sometimes like people think that by proxy having a conversation on maybe like Twitter X, you know, that’ll somehow just be surfaced as, hey, we said this, it should be done, but. Unless the right people are kind of included in the conversation, it won’t, you know, find its way into the project and get yeah actioned. So it’s hard. It’s hard challenging.


That’s the beauty of open source.

We were just. Before we got into all the 65 chat, we’re talking a little bit about word camps just for fun, and we I just mentioned to you where can’t Candice coming up the second week of draw in Ottawa and it’s actually used to be called Camp Ottawa, but they’ve renamed. And it so that’s an approved name. So that’s good. That’s good for us. Interestingly, Toronto doesn’t have an active work camp right now. The closest one that Toronto is typically is Buffalo. I think you were at Buffalo.


Weren’t you sure?

Yeah. Yep, Yep. Yeah. I think that was in May. Yep. Yeah, that was good.

And I didn’t get there because we had lots on the go. So that’s. We we had this. Problem called lots of stuff going on, so it’s. What we can, as somebody who’s gone to work camps representing WP engine in for yourself, what big value do you say work camp?

I get. I selfishly get so much out of it just to to get out and yeah, interact with the community like I feel like. That is the best part. Just just interaction. Yeah. I mean that. And and it’s interesting to see post COVID how work camps are slowly picking up, but also they’re not. You know, they’re definitely not the same. And the the, the cadence and the.

You know.

You know, in the attendance and and. Which is to be. Expected in a lot of ways, I mean. Things shut down for so long, but yeah, it’s encouraging to see more of them pop popping up and. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to you. A lot of the small or small, you know, local ones, but. I still think it’s a great, you know, cause and I love going to them and just seeing everybody and and hearing all the different perspectives from builders, designers, you know, freelancers, any, everybody, everybody and anybody, so many people in this. You know, ecosystem. Though.

I think the value to in person is the people, and I’ve always said that. So I was at an event last Thursday wasn’t even a WordPress event. It was a marketing event and it was. Put on downtown and somebody said to me you can get this information elsewhere. I said. I sure can’t. There’s no, no question. I can go to White papers online and I can read stuff, but it’s being around the people and hearing the ideas from the people. And I mean, we try and replicate some of that with. Mastermind groups I think of build mode, which is put on by Brian Gardner like and Sam Munoz, right. And you know we’re trying replicate it that way, but it’s still not the same and not the same energy level as being in the same room with that amazing energy, wouldn’t you say?


Ohh, definitely absolutely yes. Yeah, so much to be said about. Being in the same room with somebody and just, I mean even virtual is, you know, you can see a face, but yeah, yeah. I don’t know. Being in the same room ambient temperature, all that stuff smells like just all you know. It brings everybody into the. Same atmosphere and and really sets. Yeah, just.

Yeah, it’s so true. It’s funny because in the digital space, one of the longest running conferences in Toronto is a conference called Pod Camp, which is basically a word camp for podcasters. And that’s a week, Saturday and last year coming out of. Well, but they still had 250 attendees over the week. So coming out of COVID, so that was nice to see and I and they actually moved to bigger spaces. So that will be really interesting. I usually go at least a day, if not a day and a half, I know this year I’m speaking on the Saturday. So you know I like doing that.



Does it give something back to the community that you’re in? So that’s important, but and and people don’t realize like speaking presentations and you’ve done them, I’ve done.


Them they’re a lot of work, like they’re really.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did. Yes, they are a lot of work and. And but yeah, I mean, that’s again to why I like work camps is just being able to provide information and and presentations and interact and get you know the questions from the audience and see all the different perspectives and hear them so. Yeah, it’s interesting. So.

Because you’re learning. As the speaker, you’re learning as much as the people you’re talking to at the same time, right? Having a dialogue.

Ohh yeah. Yeah, yeah, Yep. Yeah, there’s a lot to be said by the the, you know, the Q&A. Time. And how much questions you get, you know, is it did you, did you touched on information and maybe? You know, spawn some good questions out of it and or did you even have gaps in your presentation? You know, that spawn questions, but it’s. Yeah, it’s fascinating process and.

So also moving on, as we’re doing this breaks yesterday I think. We talked a little bit before I had a bit of a security issue and I would say like on the Richter scale, this one is huge. It’s like on A1 to A10, it’s probably a 30 or 40 or A50 off the chart. It just looked awful. One of the problems I think we’re having is the time from an exploit to the time of a vulnerability is is getting shorter and shorter, and I think that’s part of the problems we’re facing. You guys doing anything special? I’ll put WP engine to help designers and developers with that or.

For the bricks builder in particular, or just.

No, I mean, I mean just generally.

I mean, I don’t. I feel like I’m. A little bit out of that, that, that, that, yeah, that, that.

So thanks.

System I mean. I tend to monitor, you know, the like Twitter. I don’t know. I think I shared earlier the that. Introduction for you know the upcoming 6.5, but it looks like that six year old track ticket was closed, which looked really interesting because you know, I didn’t even realize that. Yeah, when you go to set up WordPress that you can, you know enable. Public registration, right? Use it. You can enable a setting that allows folks to anybody to come and register on your site or disable it, but Even so, you can set a default role so. So if you know anybody can register and also anybody could be administrator, that’s a little you. Know a little? Risky. So I think the six year old to get is addressing that and like giving a little bit of a notice like hey, you might not want to let everybody be an administrator unless it’s like an Internet setting for sure. But I think that is like those little things go a long way in securing and locking things down. So.

I think we need. To stop giving, everybody have been accessed because they asked for it and they can. I think you would never see that in enterprise layout. Like if you work for a major bank or a finance company, you’d never see that we need to start thinking that way. And site owners are so all I need admin access and I got to tell you. As somebody who walks down websites every time they say to me I need admin access the first word out of my mouth is. Why?

Yep, yeah.

Because and and I’m and I’ve seen more stuff caused with websites and problems because we gave somebody admin access who wasn’t qualified or shouldn’t have it, and then they break it and then it’s the website’s fault, not the user’s fault. And we’ve been, we’ve all been that.


Good dinner time and I just shake my head at it. It’s it’s just awful. So.

Yeah, yeah, I that’s definitely a a thing to. I’ve always been wary of. As soon as I get into a WordPress site. Just look who’s got administrator roles and even audit. Why? Like, if there are administrators, do you still need administrative access, you know, and why? Because I think a lot of people, especially in certain instances, get added and you know, they forget and you’re just like. Why are they still? Administrator if they don’t need it.

Yeah, the the last time I did not it, I I pulled there was a site that had 14 administration and I turned them all off at once and I only heard one squeak out of the 14. So that told me. It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t have been. Done. If you had a crystal ball, what would you like to see us do with WordPress? Where would you like to see the project go?

Wow, that’s a good question.

Now I make you think too.

As the the project I mean I guess I tend to my mind goes towards the community aspect.


You know, I think there’s a lot of folks out there doing a lot of amazing work. You know, it’s hard to not mention, you know, Brian Gardner, my colleagues, and Sam Brockway, you know, really just interfacing with the community and trying to have conversations and surface challenges. I think that is a huge challenge and I think that a lot of people are doing a great lot of great things and I just, yeah, I I hope that that keeps happening and you know that having conversations about, like organizing those that those conversations you know and having some kind of. Pathway and forum for you know, ideas to be surfaced and actionable in you know the project. That is kind of what I. Encourage and hope for, but I as far as like a crystal ball, I don’t know I guess. Hey, AI is the hot topic right? I was just dropping a I.

In decor, I don’t know.

Might as well just drop it. You know, I was going to ask you that we’ve got all these AI products like the the one that comes to mind. Because I know the team really was the team up at Bertha Bertha dot AI and there’s some products like that, I don’t think we’re ever gonna get away from AI. I think it’s a 2. And yeah, I I think as a designer developer you better embrace it now or you’re gonna get left behind. But I don’t think AI will be a direct cause of job loss. It will mean us reinventing our processes and how we do things. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Yeah, I I tend to. I feel like a Luddite lately because I I feel like I spent a pretty solid month. Really leaning into using AI, not really tinkering. You know, I do feel like I want to experiment with creating and, you know, whipping up these LM’s your own systems and stuff, but mostly leaning into chat, LGBT stuff and. After a month of it, I started, you know, just I just wanted to experiment and see it was, it was helpful, but I feel like it’s really. In its infancy and like just so much.


Of what I feel like is hype right now around AI. I think they’re the the barriers and I guess are the boundaries of what it can and can’t do are pretty narrow and I feel like even. The the systems in place aren’t doing a very good job of, you know. Aggregating and surfacing like sources on what you know, things are where things are being sourced from and if they’re being sourced from anything you know and you know as far as job loss, I think. I think there. Will you know? I think it would be hard to say that there wouldn’t be an impact. I don’t know if it’s how immediate. I don’t think it’s going to be immediate, maybe 5-10 years, but. I think and I hope that you know, there’ll be plans in place to make it more equitable experience of, you know.

Training. I don’t know. I don’t think training. Up is the right word, but. Just, you know, allowing folks to. Yeah, have an equitable living, even if they’re not, you know like. Having to contribute in such a significant levels of certain aspects of our the.

System and everything. But I think I don’t know. It’s it’s really interesting. AI is so fascinating to me and like. And I see like even. I forget his name that runs that. That’s that that the face of chat LGBT, not necessarily Altman. I know last what last week on Twitter ex he said, you know just I don’t know why my summary of his tweet was I don’t know why you know folks are.


You know. Kind of giving challenging the current status. AI just need to dig in and start, you know, building and do do stuff with it and that was that’s my summary of kind of what he said. But I I feel like. Even the infrastructure behind it, right, like it takes so much energy. To you know, to to. Get these models going and. And. The Yeah, the infrastructure. Ethics. The governance is kind of behind on all that and it really concerns me and that’s where I’d like to see more effort, I think as opposed to investing in experiments and trying to build more courses that.


Power and getting more models off the ground. Yeah, I guess that’s.


And then we and and then we’ve kind of got the whole legal implications. If you’ve, yeah, been following the AI space, we know the New York Times has had some lawsuits, and I think they’re just putting them out there to see where it falls and see where we stand. We know there’s copyright issues out there, especially with images. Getty Images has been. Who has a whole team of patent trolls that run around him force their copywriters out there trying to do stuff? We know there’s issues. Can you copyright an image generated with AI? That discussion is out there and we we know that’s gone on.


And then we get into the whole. There’s so many government sectors and companies that forbid their. People to use anything generated with AI in any of the material because they’re scared of the unknown, but.


I hate to say it, folks. People have been using AI before. It was called AI. What do you think? Photo. What do you think Photoshop brushes are? That do things automated. That’s AI. When it when it comes down to it so. I think we’ve got so much uncertainty and and to throw one more if you’re a Windows user, do you know the adoption of edge the browser has gone up and not down because of the tie and the copilot and the AI so.

Right. Yeah, yeah.

There’s some of that going on too. And then Apple, I read another article this morning that said Apple’s about to jump into the AI space in the next version of iOS. And the big and the big one.

Yeah, I feel like that. Yeah, that’s been hinted that for a while. So I had no doubt about that. I mean, yeah. And it’s interesting. Yeah. Like, I think I kind of said this earlier, but like, the the A, the intelligence in AI is I feel like. I don’t know what I guess what my experience and my expectation, you know it’s it’s the intelligence is like I feel like 5% in you know when you say artificial intelligence and what is the the G general artificial intelligence is that the Gai?


That seems like a long way off to me, but certainly attainable in a lot of aspects.

It’s just interesting times what’s going on up at WP engine, these places or anything. Be coming down the pipe. He can share or good for the listeners. There’s nothing on.

Well, we have the.

Yeah, we have the decode event happening in March and that’s going to be, yeah, that’s going to be a lot of great stuff come out of that. They just announced the the dates for that and opened registration and. So yeah, that’s going to be. A great, great way to to get a lot of information on you know what WP engines up to, and even the larger yeah WordPress ecosystem and. So, and I think there’s going to be some, you know, a track or at least a, you know, a a speech or two on AI. I’m sure it’s a hot topic. And so yeah, that’s that’s coming. And yeah, I mean, build mode is a great thing with Brian and Sam, that’s every Friday. And I think Brian’s quite consistent on doing those every Friday. And so I think that’s great. And yeah, I’ve just been trying to dig in. I have a little time dedicated to contributing to 6.5 as a triage editor, triage and I’m working alongside a McCarthy and Phoebe and Kagy. So I’ve just been kind of getting up to speed on that. Kind of role kind of shadowing for this release and hopefully next release do a little bit more. But so that’s kind of taken up a little chunk of my time and so, but it’s a great, it’s a great. I mean I love doing stuff like that. So that’s what I ran up to, yes.


No, no, that’s great. It’s somebody wants to hold you to talk about Devil P engine or anything else. That’s the best way.

I I guess I feel like the best. Option is Twitter X these days. I’m I’m not posting as much lately, but I am in there a lot and you know. So if folks. Yeah. If folks see bugs and stuff hit me up in there decook I’m on X. I’ve been also getting into. I mean I have blue sky for a while, but I think since they opened it up to more public registration, you know, it’s hope. I’m hoping it’s going to get more activity. So I’m over there a little bit, but yeah, D cook on Twitter ex, that’s probably the best, easiest. Most broad channel to get at me soon.

Thanks Damon for this. You have an amazing day my friend. Appreciate it.

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