Book Chapter on WordPress as Mass Customization

A couple of years ago, I submitted a paper about WordPress to a conference on Mass Customization. The paper was accepted and, in October 2007, I presented it at the conference at MIT.

A book based on the conference has just been published. I’m posting my chapter, A Mass of Customizers: The WordPress Software Ecosystem, here. I hope you find it interesting.

The fact that the book has just come out is a comment on the slowness of the traditional publishing system. There is a danger of bibliolescence: the book becoming obsolete. Indeed, I note that the chapter refers to Version 2.3 of WordPress, and we’re now on 2.9.

That said, the point of the chapter has become sharper, rather than duller, with time. WordPress is now a better example of mass customization. There’s more mass, in that there are millions more WordPress blogs. And there’s more customization, in that there are many more themes, plugins, etc.

Indeed, Table 2 of the chapter is a rather handy summary of the means by which WordPress can be customized. Take a look, and feel free to leave comments on the chapter at this post.

WordPress as Mass Customization: Slides

WordPress is an example of mass customization. The mass lies in the number of blogs powered by WordPress. The customization is enabled by mechanisms such as plugins and themes.

If this sounds interesting, you might want to take a look at the slides for a presentation I’ll be giving on Monday. It’s at the World Conference on Mass Customization & Personalization (MCPC).

Before presenting, I will probably put the slides into PPT and edit them down. I am told that there will be PPT in the room, but there seems to be no guarantee of web access; given that we’ll be at MIT, I’m a little surprised things won’t be the other way round. We have been asked to keep presentations to 15 minutes to allow time for questions and answers.

In some ways, the presentation will stop just as it’s getting interesting. The last slide refers to the WordPress ecosystem, and identifies some of its inhabitants. Some of these inhabitants are vital because they enable customization by others. For example, the work of theme designers allows us to customize our blogs by choosing appropriate themes. We can then further customize our chosen themes, if we have access to CSS or other code.