Last week, Automattic’s Tim Moore announced their new REST API that provides app developers access to WordPress posts and comments. In addition, the API includes social features like Follow, Like and Reblog. The API will initially provide access to WordPress.com blogs, with support for self-hosted WordPress.org blogs to follow, via Automattic’s Jetpack plugin.
This is pretty radical stuff. Tumblr has carved-out a significant place for itself in the social web scene by providing users with a platform that makes it simple and easy to share content. WordPress, meanwhile, has been living off its Press This bookmarklet and XML-RPC mobile apps. None of those options offer the community features of Tumblr, however, and the XML-RPC interface has been a regular source of security problems for WordPress blogs.
Tumblr is a popular platform, but to see where Automattic is taking WordPress with the new REST API, we need only look at the social web’s latest darling – Pinterest. The Freshly Pressed gallery already provides a graphical representation of the community’s posts, in a grid format.
The Reblog function is very similar to Repin on Pinterest. A notice is created in the comment section of the post that the Reblog is performed on and any additonal commenting is mirrored on both the Reblog notice and the Reblogged post.
You might even say that Automattic has “one upped” Pinterest, since Reblogged content displays the reblogger’s comment on both sites. Comments are almost an afterthought in Pinterest and they become seperated from the original Pin, as it gets Repinned and commented on in other user-accounts.
Automattic’s social implementation is also more social in another important way – content receives more exposure. Unlike the walled garden of an individual social web platform, a published WordPress post garners exposure from your own blog – along with Automattic’s Freshly Pressed page and the indivual sites of everyone who reblogs the content.
Like Tumblr and Pinterest, I expect Automattic’s social implementation drive more multimedia content on WordPress blogs – content that will catch of the eye of potential rebloggers browsing the Freshly Pressed gallery. Still, the headline plays a more significant role in the Freshly Pressed gallery than on Pinterest – so even long form content should still be rewarded.
Matt Mullenweg spoke at a conference this week and this to say about WordPress and Tumblr; “Let’s say that there is a way that when you post to WordPress it goes to Tumblr, and it has its own website instead of just appearing in a dashboard,” he said. “I think that if Tumblr continues on its path WordPress and Tumblr could be highly complementary in that regard.”
Of course, there is no free lunch, even on the social web. The downside to Automattic’s brilliant (you have to admit – they may be a bit late, but this is well thought-out) implentation is that it will require the Jetpack plugin – and that means giving-up some control.
Jetpack has had its share of controversy. From secretly reporting your reader’s browsing habits to Quantcast to activating certain modules without any notification, Jetpack is Automattic’s platform for wrapping their arms around the self-hosted WordPress community – and that is typically a community that values their independence.
WordPress in 2015