Movable Type: 'Tipping' Through the Wires

by Steve Mallett

Related link: http://www.sixapart.com/log/2004/06/announcing_pric.shtml



Now that the noise around MovableType's new licensing scheme has died down I'd like to give my thoughts on how they are a victim of their own success, and are/were now as important to people as the apache webserver is to websites.

The first thing is that MovableType (MT) has done a great thing by listening to the feedback from the first new licensing announcement and have addressed a lot of the concerns they heard from users. Not all, but that's the two way street of being a company too. They should be commended for being on the cluetrain for that one, but the first announcement has overshadowed it.

Secondly, MT is a victim of its own success in this case. When MT was heating up in the blogging world they took it by storm attracting legions of users and volunteer developers. But, something happened. Weblogs became as essential to people as email, webservers, and IM. It was no longer a quaint piece of add-on software that was fun to play with. MT had hit the tipping point and became architecture!

Well, we all know what happens to software once it hits that level. Businesses are built on it, communities form on it, it becomes as essential as air, and nothing can come between us and it. Nothing. It must be unemcumbered. That's just how it is.

There lies a critical piece of the Movable Type story. As a business it was commercialized too late. Maybe not for commercial success, but definitely for not making waves.

The new license could have said that for every installation we should send Ben and Mena's company a piece of bubblegum. It would be an outrage. A threat to everything millions of people now depend upon for their online life. It would be basically unacceptable for most people and early adopter types. (insert dripping sarcasm here)

Of course in hindsight this is easy to see, but be wary of the fine balance that lies in a huge success. If you're lucky enough to not linger away in obscurity with a commercial product, and it becomes as essential as water... it's hard to start to charge at the well and not have people get upset with you.