Thoughts from the Friendly Ghost

Hi, I'm Kasper, the founder of TYPO3 back in the days. I'm not involved on a daily basis anymore, but as you can see, the project is now carried by the passion of a large and wonderful community, many of whom are my dear friends and many of whom I don't know personally but who has still been captured by the spirit of the product and community. TYPO3 is much more than a CMS for those working on it. It's like a lifestyle, a place to belong, to contribute, where you have friends and get new ones. The really special thing about TYPO3 is  in the community we have!

 

Why Open Source?

My reasons for creating Open Source software was like many others the "personal itch". This is still a true motivator in my life in all areas. The personal itch means that you have a problem that nags you and you set out to solve it. This is a trivial human motivator. But the term just underlines that Open Source is not started from anything more extraordinary than something every human being experiences on a daily level. The difference is the mentality you harbour about what to do with your solutions to personal itches. Traditionally "the world" tells us to protect our intellectual property so we can maximize our personal benefit from it, make it into a sellable product, license it to others for money but don't let anyone use you by sharing it for free. My mentality was much opposite. Around the time I had a product ready for release to the public I luckily had a strong conviction that the talent in me that resulted in this product was not meant to serve my own purposes only. Rather - as a personal christian - I believed that it was my gift from God and something meant to serve the world around me. My talent should be a blessing to people. I'm saying this with no exclusivity meant; we all carry this friendly wish inside to help our neighbours and the last 15 years of internet age has in the most beautiful way illustrated how the principle of open sharing of information is one that millions find appealing. 

So the big dream and the short story is: I had a useful tool and my idea of maximising that investment of mine was to put it in the hand of everyone who would receive it - for free. ‘You're far happier giving than getting.’ (Acts 20:35)

When you do such a thing you can always hear a small voice (sometimes big voice!) inside yelling that you are naive and a useful idiot since you might have made millions on it for yourself. Well, first of all, the success of TYPO3 wouldn't be a given if it had stayed proprietary, but that being said it could also be true. But the rationality of that line of thought assumes that building material wealth for oneself is an all important parameter. I just don't believe that. Jesus often explained the essentials of this world view to large crowds of people and one famous and captivating point was an encouragement to us to built our treasures in things that last rather than materialism that can (and will eventually) be taken away from us. 'Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven.... It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.'  (Matt 6:19-21) This rings very true to me inside when I hear it and one reason I remain calm and totally happy not think twice about sharing. And the principle has stuck and engraved itself in me. I identify it as adventure, not being afraid of what life will be, letting go of control a bit and letting life surprise you. It's not a natural law that you will be blessed, but it's almost certain that if you share something like I did, pushing it out there in the open and if it has a pull on other people, then something strange, beautiful, unexpected and very valuable in a non-monetary sense will happen. You will be blessed somehow and feel your reward coming. A reward moth and rust will not affect. Unexpectedly in timing and form. A small adventure, something that sinks into your heart and becomes a jewel no one can take away from you.

(For those who can't get enough there is more about Jesus at the bottom of the page).

 

What I'm doing today

After I quit TYPO3 development in 2007 I began to study civil engineering at the Technical University of Denmark. Civil Engineering is about building houses etc. I'm about to finish this, but in the meantime I have changed focus and found that I'm by heart more interested in IT, electronics, hardware, software, media etc. But it was fun to learn about concrete and the physical properties of materials. For a while. Now, I'm employed as an elearning consultant at LearningLab DTU (also a the Technical University of Denmark) and like that job. On the side I'm running my company, SKAARHOJ, where I do consultancy and currently produce a range of hardware products interfacing with video hardware. I do all this in the continued spirit of openness. I'm don't know what I will do "tomorrow". In a very real sense I feel like the man without a plan, just drifting with the winds of opportunity, guided by my interests and inner compass. But thats also a lot of fun and feels very true to my nature.

If you wish to follow what I do or see my family, please go to my company website for that info.

Continued on this page I would like to share some of the history of TYPO3 with you, something from a very interesting and critical time in the development of the community and project. This is mostly from the years 2002-2003 and here we go...

The first snowboard tour

As you can read from the timeline given on the history page the first snowboard tour took place in 2002. This event was groundbreaking since it was the very first time the community members met. Until this event people had only communicated via mailing lists. The snowboard tour was inspired by Rene Fritz, an early community contributer, who told me in 2001 that he had returned back from a snowboard holiday. I figured that this had to be the thing cool web people did and kept that idea in my mind for another year while growing my beard so I could look like a real computer guru ;-) The outcome was surprising to everyone; we felt so much closer and got a huge boost in energy and sense of "doing this together".

This is me sitting in the snow. Probably we are discussing some technical aspects of TYPO3 or development perspectives. We did that often on the slopes.
Renting boots and boards. I think it is Jan-Hendrik Heuings kamera. Back then we we're still drolling to get our hands on a D-SLR camera. They didn't really exist in the price range we could afford.
Me on the slopes with my legendary red suit which was sold to Wildside in Århus for 1000€ in 2009 or so. It's hanging on their wall I was told.
Maybe I look tired and awkward, but so does Matthias Schreiber with the googles next to me! Is that Volker Graubaum in the background?
Rick and I. We were the two gurus of Ben van't Ende.

T3Accelerator 2002

Daniel Hinderink had entered the community with bold ideas and ambitions to stage an Open Source project to the public in ways similar to proprietary software. In other words: Lets marked this thing professionally and to professionals! So Daniel, having degrees and knowledge in business administration along with impressive personal skills, was allowed to freak out on typo3.com while the rest of us developers stayed in the familiar realm of typo3.org. So what the Metadev meeting (see next) was for development, the T3Accelerator meeting was for marketing - and probably a key factor in TYPO3s penetration and success as an enterprise CMS.

At the T3Accelerator meeting one central presentation was that of a new logo (3 sheets layered) along with a corporate identity. And "the box" of course. This was a gimmick Daniel liked to pull; You could actually download a PDF file with cut lines and printing instructions for creating a cardboard box for TYPO3. So if people felt uncomfortable with the fact that TYPO3 only lived as a download, you could now get the whole package DIY-wise by downloading the box and putting your burned CD inside of it.

The increased pressure for contribution from outside my dorm room in Copenhagen also lead to the creation of the extension architecture of today along with a repository on TYPO3 - a free "app store" (before the word "app" was invented) - which TYPO3 could connect directly to. The extension architecture was conceived and implemented during 3 intense weeks in summer 2002 and the progress was presented on the Accelerator meeting.

Me with my best guru look! I grew the beard for about one and a half year. I think I shaved it off shortly after this meeting since I was getting tired of all the looks from people. Plus it was hard work to maintain it nice. I mean, I would have to shower everyday. Tough stuff. ;-) Daniel Hinderink behind me.
Me and Daniel walking in the park. It was a photo session in order to create some pictures for the TYPO3.com website. These were some of the first pictures I had taken with my Nikon D100 (brand new and fancy at the time). I'm usually not seen in a shirt!
Finally at the T3Accelerator meeting at some hotel around Munich. Notice the flip chart. That was Daniels way of turning our disadvantages into advantages. No support in Open Source? Nooo! Unlimited support! No guarantee? No problem, you have the power to fix it! etc… Designer-Daniel sitting next to me (don't know his last name, but he made our CI).
This picture if of course quite revealing. From this it is clear that TYPO3 was originally named "Typo" and the three was the version number. More on that…
Rene Fritz and me lying on the flow and designing something important.
Daniel Hinderink, the mastermind behind TYPO3.com and possibly we all owe him a lot in terms of how popular TYPO3 became in the lucrative markets relevant for web agencies.
Flipchart showing discussions about what to place as TYPO3 Core and in extensions - or both. I assume the red numbers were priorities assigned.
Another interesting flipchart. I must have made this. Partly this reflects the reality back then: That I was the only core development. But it also shows how my original vision with the extensions was to create a safe space for others to contribute - maybe so I could have the core to myself! ;-)
Socializing - always a part of TYPO3 gatherings.
The box! Made by Designer-Daniel.
Apparently this is where "Typo III" finally was made into "TYPO3" as a brandname! It also confirms the strategy of using .com for business appeal and .org for developers. The claim "get.content.right" was also Daniel Hinderinks idea - with a nice reference to the syntax of TypoScript.
This documents the day we decided that TYPO3 should not be userfriendly at all ;-) I have no clue about what this chart deals with really, but even the worst interpretation carries some truth; we really never cared enough for the endusers to prioritize it higher than the core. But that's the nature of the personal itch I guess.
Me. Cool beard! Surf dude, Yeah!
The team. From left: Daniel Hinderink, Mathias Schreiber, me (Kasper Skårhøj), Jan-Hendrik Heuing, Leander Seyffer, "Designer-Daniel", Nils Teller, Rene Fritz.

The Metadev Meeting 2003

The Metadev meeting in September 2003 was instead of another Accelerator meeting and it was the first act to bring developers together in order to involve more people in the development. At this time the TYPO3 core was still only developed by me, only seeing a few additional contributions from Rene Fritz and a few more. But everyone agreed that we had to put more minds together to set a direction for the project. The meeting itself was held at the home of Matthias Schreibers father. It was a pretty rural location characterized by the fact that there was a railroad on the left side, a freeway on the right side and it was under the air corridor of the nearby Düsseldorf Airport. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact of great weather which compelled us to sit outside - only interrupted every 10 minutes by planes taking off and 40-wagon long freight trains.

Everyone at the Metadev meeting. From left: Matthias Schreiber, Peter Kühn, Michael Dengler, Ingmar Schlecht (covered by Dan Frost in the white polo), Rene Fritz, Andreas Otto, me (Kasper Skårhøj), Robert Lemke and Christian Jul "Julle" Jensen.
We were obviously brainstorming and prioritizing development ideas
I'm thinking hard about something. Generally it was exciting but also challenging for me to imagine other people messing with "my code". The laptop was my first laptop ever and is now donated to Moc Systems. Notice the nice T-shirt: "End of HTML" :-)
Christian Jul and Ingmar
A young Robert Lemke! But obviously in love with OOP…
Rene Fritz, always ready to put up a weird face :-)
Dan Frost - a visionary and fiery developer from Cambridge or something like that. We were al impressed by his Oxford English - and his ideas of course!
Robert and me (a young me!) discussing.
Me. Seems like I'm showing some XML, maybe flexforms? Just seems a bit early historically for that. Hmmm. I don't know how Mathias Schreiber got hold of a projector that could compete with the sun, but he did.

The Cigars and other settings

The pictures on this page portraits some cornerstone events in a very important years for TYPO3, namely 2002-2003. Of course any other year has it's own list of important milestones for the project, but 2002 and 2003 were special in that so many founding events took place. Since then, we have had a snowboard tour every year, the Metadev meeting became T3 Developer Days, we finally had real business conferences etc.

For me personally I also experienced some blessed customer relationships which had a huge impact on TYPO3. Dassault Systemes in Paris asked me to create a pilot project also in the year 2002 and that became a collaboration with them spanning many years and giving birth to groundbreaking features such as TemplaVoila, RealUrl, Workspaces and versioning, integrity tools and more. In retrospective I'm thanking God for this opportunity because I think He saw how much synergy it would create; a real world problem, money to solve it and finance for even more open source development, enterprise features demanded and for me personally some cool friendships and times in Paris.

Me, lighting a cigar. This is an elaborate process where you first need to heat the tip of the cigar and finally when it's all glowing you "suck in" and it's ready. I'm using cedar wood according to the tradition. You shouldn't inhale cigars, regular smokers does it wrong often (because they can't help it ;-)
Rene Fritz enjoying the cigar smell. That's a part of the ritual as well. I think it was me who brought cigar smoking to the TYPO3 community for real. I remember smoking with Rene and Urosh on the very first snowboard tour.
This is Rene Fritz and Christopher Kunz. He was a journalist for the german iX professional IT magasine and gave TYPO3 a pretty fine review back in 2001. We probably also owe Christopher a lot for bringing attention to TYPO3 early on - which might explain why TYPO3 penetrated the german speaking markets so well in those years.
This is me and Julle (Christian Jul) sitting in our office at Cafe Retro, Copenhagen. We rented this small room as our office. I think 1/3 was still a storage room with towels and drinks for the bar. The room itself had a skewed floor with an angle of 3-5 degrees. Our tables were so arranged that we would naturally roll into the table when sitting in our office chairs ;-)
Maybe the first TYPO3 conference? At least this was in Karlsruhe and clearly it was the day of my keynote where I transformed into Bob-the-Builder on stage. The point really was that we all needed to put the hard hats on and get to work on the project! People liked it a lot!
This is from a toally different place - Paris. This is Vincent Picou and Mehdi Tayoubi - two employees from Dassault Systemes. This is from my first visit there and we were out dining as we always did at least once a visit. Vincent and Mehdi were the guys who ran the risk of inviting me and TYPO3 into Dassault. Finally TYPO3 ran their website, 3ds.com - and still does as of this writing (summer 2012).

The last page...

... in the history book of TYPO3 is not written yet. The project lives on, the spirit in particular does and I'm very thrilled to be a part of it still and maybe - God knows - come back to it some day in the future. I feel so proud when I see the innovation and collaboration still going on in my absence. I am particularly happy that the spirit that has always been in the community - a friendly atmosphere some tells me that I brought in - is still alive and captivating people. The grand vision really is exactly that, that we may be inspiring people to share! Never forget that, my friends!

- kasper

the humble friendly ghost and founder of this amazing open source project

Itchhikers guide to the God galaxy

I thought I would put up a section if for any reason you should be interested in christianity and my take on it. If you are not, don't read on. This page should have been entertaining enough already as it is ;-) 

I'm not interested in church architecture anymore than you are. I don't like classical concerts and organ music much. The only thing about christianity that will be my reason to write this is the living God. Many of you have no idea what I'm talking about. That's the point, because many of you have only met the church in some distorted way through people in it, rituals in your society, programs on TV etc. and this has shaped your idea about what christianity is. Not your fault, you're part of culture too. But all of this is various kind of expressions, some are bad, some dead, some pretty good, some truly from God, but you will never know christianity before you give Jesus a try yourself. By that I mean; you must meet the living God and then you will know for the first time. And all your questions will disappear or be different, your objections and conflicts with church as you know it is not personally relevant to you anymore. Can't explain why. So what if you want to meet this Jesus? Well, it's quite difficult to provide a universal pointer - a guide that works in all of the galaxy - but trust your gut feeling. A christian fellowship should be living, loving, inviting and serious about a lifestyle with Jesus. Then it doesn't matter if it's protestant or catholic or any of the regular derivations thereof. Be confident that even if you don't know God, he will also provide your gut feeling on this issue.

One generally pretty good way to check out Jesus is taking what is internationally known as an "alpha course". It's a down to earth introduction to christianity in a relaxed setting where you can ask any question and will receive some knowledge of the whole thing. Through such knowledge you get to know Jesus better, appreciate him and his teaching, understand the parts of the morality you already like and also you will better understand some of the parts that still offends you. You should also expect that it takes a bit of prayer at some point to really let him meet you. If you wanna take the journey alone, just open your Bible and read one of the gospels, John for instance.

So, you're a rational person and cannot believe in God? Luckily christianity has a very rational world view! There are many sources out there defending christianity, one would be William Lane Craig whom I really enjoyed videofilming in a debate here in Copenhagen against a local atheist. But even though I'm a very rational person myself, I have found that my faith in God can never be based on arguments. If my feelings are not in it, if I don't "open up", I will not get what I really want inside; living water - as Jesus frames it. It's a beautiful perspective on the life you live now and on the future you will have for all eternity with a Father in Heaven and a community of Love. No fear, at all.

 

BTW, I was once interviewed by BibelTV about my life, TYPO3 and faith, watch it here.