Why Haikus Matter


Recently Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and other popular services we all know and love, launched a partial redesign of their company website. Most notably, each of the company’s projects is described in a haiku, a Japanese form of poetry. At first glance this is hokey, cute, and worth a chuckle or two. Especially when reading through them.

But I think these haikus are more important than they may seem at first.

Screenshot of Automattic's haiku based redesign

This sort of playfulness isn’t a new thing within the WordPress world. The default WordPress theme Kubrick still sports the following popular lines from Daisy Bell:

Lyrics from Daisy Bell in the default theme Kubrick

Then there’s the 2 KB Plugin file hello.php that ships with every download of WordPress and, when activated, gives you lyrics to Hello, Dolly. And most recently, aside from the Automattic website, developers wanting to list their commercial themes in the WordPress directory need to include a haiku with their submission.

“This whole game isn’t just about WordPress. I mean, this blog is, and others are too, but that’s not it.”

I don’t mean to make a big deal out of nothing, but I think we can learn from Matt’s influences in these areas. Each of these simple, small things is playful. Childish, even. But they are also full of spirit. How many companies do you know that hold on to these things as they expand and grow?

Are we keeping this spirit, this playfulness, alive in the things that we do?

This whole game isn’t just about WordPress. I mean, this blog is, and others are too, but that’s not it. And I can’t tell you what that it is for you. I’m still figuring out what it means for me. But whatever it is, make sure that it is more important than page views, dollars sold, or whatever.

Don’t go put haikus in your code. Unless that’s you. Find your thing, find the thing that makes you smile, that makes you proud when others smile. Do that.

Thanks for humoring me while I made a mountain out of a haiku. Back to your regularly scheduled tutorials now.

4 thoughts on “Why Haikus Matter

  1. I’m not a theme designer so I won’t be contributing to the haiku. But I can see how adding a bit of fun will make for community building and bringing out a bit of the author’s personality.

  2. One of my all-time favorite plugins is one built off Hello Dolly (which I realize most people think is annoying. They don’t get it.)

    It’s called Life’s Little Instructions, and it puts out a line of just plain nice advice in the admin area. I use it on one of my WPMU sites and the members there just love it. They really appreciate the nice touch. 😀

    They get it.

  3. Maybe this isn’t all that uncommon. I insert fun thoughts on life and motivation, or whatever is on my mind, in a comment at the end of the file, when I’m coding.

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