Today is 27 May, 2023. It is the 20th anniversary of WordPress 🙂
In response to the day 1 of Blogs to Blocks, here is my WordPress origin story.
Edit: I started to write before 27th, but delayed in publishing.
Around end of 2004, I self-taught HTML and CSS to make a fan site of a pc game, Football Manager. By early 2005, I converted that site to use Serene Bach, a Japanese blog software made with Perl. By early summer, I was getting fed up with need to “build” every time I publish (yes, similar to Movable Type). I read somewhere that PHP+MySQL using LAMP platform is the “modern” way of doing things, I remade it with Nucleus CMS.
I was getting more into “doing things with blog”, and in August of 2005, I decided I want to make a personal blog, and I wanted to publish in both English and Japanese.
I was not interested in Movable Type, as you had to “build” to publish, but moreover, Movable Type was the king then, and that just didn’t appeal to me so much. On the other hand, I remember fiddling with Nucleus CMS was fun, but something just did not click with me.
10 – 13 August, 2005
I went through all the web tech blogs I used to read, which I got confirmation that majority used Movable Type. But there was one blog using something I have never heard of. That was Eric A. Meyer‘s blog using WordPress.
If Eric is using it, it must be not bad — I thought.
I followed the link to WordPress.org and found that it runs on PHP and MySQL. Also, it mentioned something about the importance of web standards, and how the project values it thus output codes accordingly. I was very interested in web standards movement then, so that sounded excellent to me.
Finally, I went googling to check if WordPress could handle both English and Japanese. I think it was not mentioned about it on .org site then, and I was not expecting it either.
Immediately, I stumbled upon Naoko’s blog (used to be on different domain then), and WordPress Japan site. WordPress Japan site was run by a guy called otsukare, who was releasing forks of WordPress in three Japanese language codes. Site’s forum seems to be very active and vibrant. And from there, I was able to find there were more than handful of people using WordPress in Japanese. All looked very promising.
From Naoko’s blog, I also found out that there is going to be first ever WordPress offline social gathering in Japan. What’s more, it was going to be held at where I was, Osaka, and it was scheduled to happen on that weekend, just three days to go! Registration was still open and I was able to sign up.
So, on the evening of 13 August 2005, around twelve of us met up in Osaka, and went to the nearby izakaya. I remember talking about what I have made, my struggle with career, and asking about WordPress and other CMSs … for I think only a half of the time, may be? I just remember so vividly as one of the most inspiring nomikai (“social-dringking-meetup”) moment of my life.
I think there were twelve attendants, with various experiences with WordPress, met and went to nearby izakaya to eat, drink, and chat for few hours. I still remember vividly of the welcoming feeling and positive energy from that event.
After the nomikai, I spent some time fiddling around with WordPress, and tried to get my blog setup. I got it up and running on January 2016. I don’r remember why it took that long, but I think I spent too much time fiddling and trying to customize.
When I first discovered WordPress, the version was 1.5.2. I think 1.6 was going to be released in that autumn, but was skipped and 2.0 was release on 31 December. So 2.0 was the version I first used it.
What it meant to me
For me, it was not an encounter to “just another” blog (or CMS) software.
I went to school and university in U.K. for total of ten years. It was hard to find anyone with non-Japanese connection or affinity in Osaka those days. So I totally did not expect to meet someone like Naoko, who then lived in U.S., at a nomikai of a blogging software you have never heard of!
I was struggling to utilize or “make use of” my U.K. experience. To discover and meet not only the software, but (what we now call) the community as well — it gave me a lot of inspirations.
Looking back at it after 18 years, I think I would say those few days of summer 2005 were the life-changing few days.