I received an IM yesterday from someone I didn't know. This doesn't happen very often because, after all, it's not so easy to find my instant message handle unless I want you to have it. Turns out the guy had found my new neighborhood blog/website - Bergen Carroll (still in alpha mode, pre-publicity) - through a google search. He visited the about page, found my name, and tracked me down on IM, sending the following message:
Hi, Joshua...please IM me when you get back; I'm a longtime resident of Carroll Gardens, former About.com Senior Editor now doing bus dev. I know most of the business owners and local eccentrics in the neighborhood here pretty well, to the point where I'm sure I could generate a lot of sales for you...
When you're taking a risk, investing your time and money in a project like Bergen Carroll, this is the kind of anonymous message you love to receive!! It validated my vision and gave me a little push to get the site up and running. Combined with the overwhelming interest in the editor role that I posted on CraigsList last week, I'm getting my second wind to finish this little pet project.
I chose Wordpress for Bergen Carroll and have since gotten to know the management team over there a little bit. I am totally impressed by this company, their technology and their product offerings. The simple fact that someone found Bergen Carroll before I had taken the time to make sure it was being spidered by the search engines is a testament to how well the Wordpress platform works and how easy it is to use. (It's also not something I can say about Typepad, the platform on which this blog runs.) Wordpress is an open-source platform and the number of cool applications and plug-ins that have been developed for it is mind-blowing. The software and publishing platform has improved leaps and bounds in just the few months that I've been playing with it. In my opinion, both the free hosted platform at Wordpress.com and the open-source software at Wordpress.org (requires independent hosting) have become the two best products in their respective categories. I think this speaks to how powerful open-source communities can be. The speed and quality of development that comes with large-scale network collaboration is more efficient and effective in many instances than the best team of developers one could assemble. Wordpress' growth has outpaced all their competitors over the past year. The free hosted "dot com" version has over 1 million bloggers, 44 million unique readers and 190 million monthly page views. When you combine another 1 million "dot org" blogs that are harder to track because they are on independent domains, but account for a ton of traffic (many are brand names), it makes Wordpress among the most trafficked sites on the Internet, and this company is still relatively new and unknown. Like most successful internet darlings, Wordpress has a charming young founder, Matt Mullenweg, who gave a compelling interview on CNET two weeks ago. Below is a chart from Quantcast that compares Wordpress' traffic with that of their primary competitors, Typepad and Blogger, over the past six months. I think the trend speaks for itself. Needless to say, I plan to switch this blog over to Wordpress as soon as I find the time.