Thoughts from a Web 2.0 journey: TYPO3 and the Read/Write-Web

Waiting in the terminal for my flight home to Copenhagen I grabbed a part of what must have been the IT section of Financial Times. "Saving the planet in reverse" or so was the title of a column that captured my interest.

4 Min.
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Social scientists had found that technology is not able
to deliver a true substitute for real life meetings (and hence, we would
probably have to continue polluting the air by travelling). In
fact, trying to use emails, PM and video conferencing could even trick
people into overlooking important social benefits of team work that comes
with meetings in real life (IRL). I knew exactly what they were talking about. My trend curve is
definitely going up when it comes to real life interaction around TYPO3
development. It is also interesting how I have allowed certain
communication channels in our community to distract me so much during
the years when they were used for the wrong purpose – something that is
not easy to spot when you are deep inside.

The Social Success of TYPO3


Not considering air pollution and the great ideal of internet-based communication
replacing travelling, working together IRL is in fact a hidden secret
behind TYPO3’s success. Probably the single most powerful ignition in
our community is events, starting out with the snowboard tour and going all
the way to Developer Days and the T3CON for professionals. Even us,
nerds, the bit generation – used to navigating in a virtual universe and
used to covering a surprisingly great amount of our social needs this way – at the
end of the day we are still humans, inspired by the presence of our

Bring the Fireplace Logs Together

I see a future where the TYPO3 association has a task more
important than directing development support; a TYPO3 Association
existing primarily to break down barriers to participation, giving people
low and high an equal chance to get involved and shape the future of TYPO3.
This also includes a focus on supporting and enabling meetings in real
life. Basically, offering a fireplace and the means to get there – the fuel is brought along by the people themselves. In this light, aren’t we blessed
to live so concentrated in the same timezone, with a traveling
distance of no more than four hours?


The Read/Write Web

At the PHP conference in Frankfurt the keynote speaker, Tim Bray, director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems, talked on Web 2.0.
Rather than dancing the buzz-dance, he described the essence of this new
focus as the "read/write" web contrary to the "read-only" web.
I think this expresses the point much better: A web where people are involved in
creating content. As an Open Source community that is inherently
our identity! Or should be. It definitely seems like the strength that
has built our most important successes – for instance the Extension
repository – and simultaneously the reason for our biggest problems. I
suppose there Web 2.0 holds an interesting wisdom that is also the very
strength of a community like ours and the edge we will always have over
a tightly controlled commercial software project.


Enabling people to participate

So, is TYPO3 Web 2.0 ready? No, we probably haven’t seen the forest for all the trees yet. But we are slowly waking up! And isn’t it great
that those same principles that make a read/write web powerful are the
very foundation of our success in the past? This seems like a free
lunch to me. A fruit that is just waiting to be picked. So simple. In more
practical terms, it means that we should offer greatly improved interaction
services on our community websites. Services that enable automatical
meritocracy-based "social mobility" in the developer pool. For TYPO3 as
a product, it means consolidated ways to produce such services in
frontend plugins.

The Broadway Show is over

Okay, so these are some thoughts. What many of you might miss is
the roadmap. The fact is, that there is no such thing as a roadmap
unless someone takes the responsibility to shape it and implement it. A
"public" roadmap for TYPO3 is inherently incompatible with a vision of
an organic read/write community which is responsible for its own fate.
So, enough of that. TYPO3’s future is not a show on Broadway where you can
lean back and watch, it is an interactive play which you are able to influence directly
and where you are responsible for the end result. Or this is what
it should be. A festival. Welcome in, honestly.

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