Matt Mullenweg announced this week that CC Search, a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) image search engine, is joining the WordPress project. Eventually, this will make over 500 million openly licensed and public domain images discoverable from over 50 sources within the WordPress Media Library interface with “audio and video soon to come.”
To make this happen, Automattic is hiring “key members of the CC Search team,” and their contributions will be sponsored as part of Automattic’s Five for the Future commitment. Matt notes that “this is an important first step to provide a long-term, sustainable challenger to proprietary libraries like Unsplash.”
Matt confirms the conversation with Creative Commons didn’t have anything to do with Unsplash’s recent acquisition by Getty Images — and in fact, it started “WAY before that happened.”
I asked Matt how his relationship with Creative Commons started, and he thinks the spark was a conversation with their CEO, Ryan Merkley, on Twitter a few years ago when Matt made a comment about building CC into Gutenberg.
I also asked Matt about Pexels, which offers a “library of over 40,000 beautiful copyright-free images” that Jetpack has an integration with. Matt said he thinks “Pexels is great” and “over time we’ll want to orient toward more pure, open source solutions.”
Matt also hinted that this wasn’t going to be the only announcement touching changes and improvements to the WordPress Media Library. In the context of the WordPress back end interface, Matt noted significant changes ahead:
“there are a few steps in between… but we’ll be able to fully embed a media directory, one-click sideloading, and a really high quality image directory (with full localization) directly into wp-admin.”
This sparked some discussion on Post Status Slack about CC and the Media Library. Helen Hou-Sandí commented that she thinks “it’s time we added a core media taxonomy still leaving the UI up to plugins” and that we have “arrived at the point where people expect to be able to search by various keywords or even OCR text and find their stuff.”
It’s an interesting discussion! Everyone has a slightly different take and way of thinking about UI for media, especially for an interface that powers 41%+ of the web. But the addition of CC Search appears to be a step in the right direction by adding valuable features for the end user.