Adorable Mascots

My daughter challenged me to write a blog post every day using a topic she chooses.

As you may know, I recently started a new job at Automattic. WordPress is woven through everything we do. So, among the many things that come with the perks of working at a large, established company, are getting swag (socks, stickers, etc.) with the WordPress mascot, Wapuu on them.

Wapuu has more than a passing resemblance to Pikachu but is always pictured holding something. By default it is a ball with the WordPress logo on it. But it can be quite a few other things as needed. And Wapuu changes their costume as needed as well.

These are from the WP World Messages App for iOS to be used as stickers in Messages chats.

I have Wapuu stickers on my laptop (Wapuu holding a rainbow ball with the WordPress logo on it and another where he is holding a green ball with the Jetpack logo on it and wearing an actual jet pack), Wapuu socks (I think I now own three different varieties), and a plush Wapuu I gave to my daughter (who invented a really cute voice for them.)

Mascots are interesting in that they can help build a community. In the case of Wapuu, it is the many WordCamps held around the world that have benefitted from Wapuu. Each one designs (or has designed) their own Wapuu for the occasion and people collect them.

In the case of Wapuu, it is the many WordCamps held around the world that have benefitted from Wapuu. Each one designs (or has designed) their own Wapuu for the occasion and people collect them.

This got me thinking about other mascots and their impact and why we love cuteness so much. In some cases, especially surrounding sports franchises, the mascots are mainly there for the children. But then you look at something like Pokemon, which is nothing but mascots and that was started for children but is beloved by people of all ages (I already know that I will be getting a Switch to play the new game when it comes out this fall.)

We just love cuteness. And collectible cuteness is even better. I lament that I am so late to Wapuu’s world. Think of all the pins and stickers I missed out on over the last 8 years since Wapuu’s official debut. Then again, I only have so much room on my bag for pins or laptop back for stickers.

As to why we love cuteness, who knows? I am sure more than a few dissertations have been written on this subject. If I had to guess without doing any research of any kind (I know, how American of me) I would say it probably has to do with a parenting instinct. We are programmed to react positively to cute things. But so what? Whether I am right or way off, it doesn’t matter. Wapuu and other adorable mascots are fantastic and I love them.

(I can get a limited number of Wapuu pins. If any of my local friends wants to swap for a pin, sticker, or other tchotchke from their place of work, let me know! So far, I have a BBEdit pin and one for AS220…)

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Birfday & the Gift of Automattic

So yesterday was my mumblemumble birthday. Some years I am more interested in the particular milestone (especially last year’s since it was a very milestone-y milestone) and some years it’s more of an excuse to be a bit more hedonistic. This year, it was pretty low-key. And that was just fine. I treated myself to a copy of Cosmic Encounter (yeah, I know, took me long enough) and I’ll be bringing that to my team meetup in San Diego hoping to get people to play with me (along with Illimat, Bears vs. Babies, an Italian Scopa deck, Fairytale Fluxx, one Munchkin variant, and whatever else I can fit into my suitcase).

The real birfday present this year is my new job at Automattic. I’ve worked at big companies before (Pfizer, Merck, even Dartmouth College fits into that category) and I’ve worked at even more smaller companies (Devis, WebCT, Ozmott, Intermarkets). Automattic is on the larger size (~850 people around the world) but I have never worked anywhere that felt so connected and involved. And that’s an amazing feat given that it is a 100% distributed company. There is no office. Everyone works from home. And because of that, the tools to keep everyone connected and functioning are very deep and very well thought out. It should come as no surprise that most of the infrastructure is built on top of WordPress itself (since, you know, WordPress and WordPress services are what we do) but it still amazes me at the richness and depth of it all.

And let’s talk about the people for a moment. What a creative, passionate, smart, and kind group of people! You learn very quickly (day 1 quickly) that communication is oxygen and that it is always OK to ask questions. No one is going to judge you because you do not know something. And those are not just words. When I have needed to know something, I pop into the relevant Slack channel, ask my question, get a cheerful and helpful response, and then I hop back off again. This pattern is repeated all over the company by so many people. People are genuinely giving and considerate and it’s amazing. And the people on my team are no exception. I get to meet all of them in San Diego soon and I am nervous but also excited.

And the projects themselves are refreshing and important and are rewarding to work on.  After the last four and a half years, this is a much needed change.

So, that’s Birfday 2019.