Today the community behind open source blogging platform, WordPress, released its latest version: 3.2. It features a design refresh and speed improvements. That’s all par for the course for a software update these days. What actually caught my attention was a slightly gimmicky thing called Distraction Free Writing (or DFW). As the name suggests, what this does is remove all distractions from your computer screen… so all you see is the words that you are typing. The WordPress community has nicknamed this a “zen mode.”
Over the past week, we at ReadWriteWeb have been obsessed with a new social networking toy called Google Plus. Some of our team think it may even be better than Twitter and Facebook. Personally, I haven’t caught the Plus bug yet, and in many ways I’m resisting precisely because I want less social media distractions, not more. Indeed, I think we need more zen on the Web and less plus!
WordPress turned 8 years old at the end of May. Other blogging platforms are even older – Blogger (which is about to be rebranded) will turn 12 later this year and Movable Type will turn 10. But it’s the relatively young social networking platforms – like Facebook, Twitter and now Google Plus – that have become the attention hogs of the past few years.
Here’s the thing: I find myself wistful for the old days of blogging. Sure I like to network with people, but I prefer exploring creative things – technology, art, music, literature and more. I think that’s why I’m less attracted to Google Plus than some. I don’t really want yet another way to tell my friends what I’m doing. I’d rather read a biography of an artist, then maybe blog about that (if I had time, but that’s another story altogether).
The so-called zen mode in WordPress 3.2 is not a big feature. In fact, it’s very simple. The WordPress community WPCandy describes it as “a new mode [that] fades the Dashboard completely into the background.” Matt “MT” Thomas, creative director at WordPress founding company Automattic, calls it “akin to using a minimalist web-based text editor.” Here’s a demo of it, from a couple of months ago when the feature was still in development.
What I like about it is that it focuses the blogger back on the core of their experience: writing. Focus – you’ve heard of that word, right? I certainly struggle with it in this day and age, when I have tweets, Facebook updates and now Google Plus pings coming at me.
Here’s a radical idea: re-discover the zen of blogging, rather than create circles of people in Google Plus. Too crazy?