BigWP: The Creators of WordPress Talk Open Source With the Founder of Drupal

Three of the biggest names in open source software discuss the importance of its contributions.

Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, sat down at BigWP London with his co-founder Mike Little, and Dries Buytaert, founder of Drupal and CTO at Acquia, for a whirlwind discussion about open source technology.

The inspiration behind open source

Every revolution has its beginnings, open source is no different. The transformational journey into open source for Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg began with the written word. 

Essays by Richard Stallman, the free software movement activist and programmer, served as an unexpected catalyst for their open source belief system. Stallman’s essays “radicalized” them, as Matt put it, inspiring a profound commitment to the open source technology cause.

“Open source is the most powerful idea of our generation.”

—Matt Mullenweg

Matt and Mike connected online 20 years ago, and the rest is WordPress history.

For Dries, his affinity for open source began with Linux and internet sharing, which sparked contributions to the Linux kernel and further involvement in open source projects.

Why open source is successful

The success of open source platforms like WordPress and Drupal doesn’t happen by chance. Matt cites the philosophy behind open source as a significant factor. Open source projects tap into the collective intelligence of humanity, allowing us to “evolve at the speed of communication versus the speed of reproduction.” 

No company can match the collective wisdom of humanity, but it’s this wisdom that fuels the improvement and evolution of open source projects, making them, in Matt’s words, “like a cockroach that’s going to survive, outlast us all.”

Beyond philosophy, the real-world user experience is paramount. Despite the ideological foundations, Matt acknowledges that “we’re never going to reach 7 billion people with [open source philosophy].” The solution? Make the best product and deliver the best user experience because, at the end of the day, “people don’t want a drill, they want a hole in the wall.”

The future of AI and open source

As Matt points out, open source and AI are the two mega trends of the next 20 years. Interestingly, these trends are complimentary. AI draws extensively from open source repositories, driving the development of tools and applications rooted in open source. 

This synergy fuels the vision that even commercial competitors will someday run on open source software. In this vein, Dries posits that AI is already drastically changing the developer experience. Today, we can ask AI models like ChatGPT to write modules for Drupal or plugins for WordPress, illustrating the transformative power of AI in software development.

Essentially, the collaborative environment created by open source allows the creation of revolutionary tools and technology that benefit the entire globe.

Learn more

Inspired by the power of open source and want to keep the learning going? Explore the rest of our BigWP content and join us in envisioning the future of the web, one open source project at a time.

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