Celebrating 10 Years of WordPress.com & Automattic

Greg Stewart:

Time flies when you’re democratizing publishing.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

This year marks the 10th birthday of WordPress.com and our parent company, Automattic. We are proud to have served this community of millions: from writers, photographers, artists, and small and large publishers, to business owners and entrepreneurs.

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Tristan da Cunha

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 10.11.40 PMI must admit, that Google Maps is my new guilty pleasure. And while I enjoy looking around countries that most everyone has heard of and perhaps visited, I rather enjoy searching the seas for obscure or isolated civilizations. Kind of like a modern day digital Magellan, minus the horrible death.

Today, something in the news jogged my memory an island that I read about many years ago. It was the most isolated island on the planet, an eight to ten day boat voyage to even reach it since there was no airport. Little to no internet access, and electricity flowed only during certain hours of the day since everything was run by generators and supplies only flowed into the province a few time a year.

It’s called Tristan da Cunha. 38 square miles in total with a population of 297 and a massive 1,500 miles from the nearest continent, South Africa:

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I love that the notable landmarks in maps includes two churches, a bar and a lava field:

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Inaccessible Island nearby is a protected wildlife preserve, which received the name due to the inhospitable terrain when trying to land on the beaches. Looks a bit sketchy to me too. (Google satellite imagery)

Getting back to Tristan da Cunha (google maps link), they actually have a website, which is pretty incredible given the population. The readability and font size is pretty terrible, but I’ll try not to focus on that too much. HOWEVER, should the powers that be there happen to see this, reach out, we can do some amazing things for you on WordPress.com.

And speaking of WordPress.com… There’s a local on Tristan da Cunha that actually blogs about life there, going back to 2007. While I have not finished reading through everything, it’s an interesting insight into living off the beaten path. You all should check it out:

Another destination for my bucket list, would love to go sometime. Would make for a neat meetup venue if it weren’t for the really slow internet service.

A little town where wireless really means less

Ever hear of a small town called Green Bank, West Virginia? Until tonight, I hadn’t either. It’s a relatively small community of around 140 people as of the 2010 census and is about four hours from Washington, D.C. 

What makes this town interesting is that it’s localed in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile exclusion zone where all forms of wireless radios and transmitters are illegal to use. This includes wifi, Bluetooth, cellphones, AM/FM and pretty much anything that transmits (with very few exceptions). 

The reason? Because it’s home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the worlds largest steerable radio telescope. The ground stations are described as “so sensitive that it can pick up the energy equivalent to a single snowflake hitting the ground“. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. 

The radio morrotorium has also attracted new residents, those who suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which is basically folks who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. 

The Washingtonian wrote a great story about the history of the area, the people and dynamics in that region if you’re interested in reading more. Time well spent. 

Print isn’t dead yet

If the book is dead, nobody bothered to tell the folks at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, D.C. Books of every size, shape and genre occupy each square inch of the converted row house — including the bathroom — all arranged in an order discernible only to the mind of Jim Toole, the store’s endearingly grouchy owner.

He has banned several words from his store, including “awesome,” “perfect” and “Amazon.”

Nice writeup by NPR about a brick and mortar bookstore surviving in the digital age, where you can read on virtually any device, anytime, anywhere.

While I am a digital convert and take my Kindle just about everywhere, much of this article resonates with me, the feel of pages turning, the smell when you crack open a fresh copy or rereading an old classic. There really is something special about holding a real book in your hand.