Paolo Valenti has published in a series of videos Matt Mullenweg’s question and answer session from last weekend’s WordCamp Milan. The videos are in seven parts, and you can view them all here (the last video is on the top of the page, and the first, at the bottom).
To summarize, with my comments in parentheses:
The first question asked about database abstraction in general and SQLite in particular. Mullenweg’s answer was that database abstraction in general was probably not appropriate for WordPress because it’s too slow, but SQLite might have some potential.
(Mullenweg seemed somewhat vague about how SQLite could or even whether it should be used with WordPress, but having followed past discussions among WordPress developers about porting WordPress to PostgreSQL, I think that the core developers are willing to abstract to the extent that it makes plugging in other databases possible, so long as it doesn’t cause performance to suffer.)
The second question was why the new WordPress dashboard, which debuted in version 2.5, split up so many of the menu items. Mullenweg mentioned two main reasons: 1) In an attempt to make navigation more intuitive for users, verbs appear on the left and nouns on the right. The idea is that the verb menu items are what most users want to do; the nouns (such as Settings and Plugins) are used less often and usually just by site administrators. 2) The dashboard was split up to allow plugins to put menu items in more places.
(Point 2 touches on a recent wp-hackers discussion, in which some argued that plugin options should always go under the “plugins” menu, and that this was the position of Mullenweg himself. The answer to this question seems to refute the latter notion. And the former notion is refuted implicitly for usability reasons, as some had already pointed out.)
The third question asked what WordPress was going to do to help users who aren’t technically savvy. Mullenweg had a three-pronged answer: 1) WordPress.com helps beginners get used to the WordPress interface, without actually having to set up the blog themselves. (Mullenweg made an interesting point that WP.com is geared toward users on both ends of the spectrum: beginners and those who need lots of resources, like CNN). 2) Mullenweg wants WordPress to be a “platform,” by which he seems to mean that like Firefox it should be extensible and able to upgrade itself. 3) Mullenweg said that he wants to create a WordPress ninja forum, in which WordPress experts can help each other out for free (I’m not sure how that differs from the WordPress.org support forum).
The fourth question was whether there were plans to include caching in core, to which Mullenweg replied with an emphatic “sì!” He mentioned that there are two related Google Summer of Code projects this summer and that he recommends using the WP-Super-Cache plugin.
The fifth question was whether WordPress would include a way to backup everything, to which he replied “no.” He said that it would probably not be possible for technical reasons and that it was really the job of the site’s host to provide such an option.
The final question had to do with whether WordPress would be incorporating SEO features, to which Mullenweg suggested that it was more profitable in the long run to focus on attracting human visitors rather than trying to rig Google pagerank.