Create University Websites, Web3 for WordPress, and AI Image Generation with Aaron Edwards

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Aaron Edwards is a special guest on the LMScast, a podcast about creating, launching, and scaling online training programs. He shares about university website creation, Web3 and AI image generation.

Aaron Edwards is the founder of Web3 WP . He is the CTO of WPMU DEV, a company that offers premium WordPress plugins, themes, and hosting services. He has expertise in WordPress development, customization, and maintenance.

Aaron discuss the latest developments in Web 3, digital assets, and the recent collapse of the FTX exchange and FTT token. Aaron believes that the underlying technology of Web 3 is what matters and not speculation and investment. He founded Web 3 WP, a community that experiments with Web 3 technology and learns how it could apply to WordPress or open-source.

Aaron thinks that there are always bad actors in any technology, especially in newer ones that people don’t understand well. In his opinion, the centralized players or third parties that handle the tokens are the main culprits. People who have their own wallets and store their tokens themselves are safer.

Aaron still believes in the technology and where it’s going. He thinks that it’s a great time to build and invest in Web 3. And the people who are building tools honestly based on technology and not speculation and investment will be the ones who will shape the future of Web 3.

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Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. State of the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of L m S Cast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is Aaron Edwards. He has a bunch of cool tools and stuff to check out. He’s from WPMU Dev, but he’s got this awesome project called Imagine you wanna spell that for us, Aaron?

Aaron Edwards: Sure. It’s U r l i . It’s I M A J I N N dot a ai. What’s So Imagine ai,

Chris Badgett: What’s the quick pitch on what that is?

Aaron Edwards: The quick pitch is we’re using like the latest AI technology for image generation, but so we have kind of two subproducts using that technology. The first is the Imagine Plugin and WordPress, and that is basically a, like a Gutenberg block or admin page in your admin, and you can just type in any kind of image that you wanna generate, and then it uses AI to generate that for you and you can save it to your library or insert it into your post or page or course, whatever it may be. And yeah, pretty amazing.

And then we just launched a new kind of side project off of that technology tour where you can actually train your own a AI model with something like your face or a pet, or a couple photo, or even like product shots for e-commerce or even like a style. Like if we have a brand style, you can train the AI in that and then you can generate any kind of images, including those subjects. It’s pretty amazing technology.

Chris Badgett: That is awesome. You’re also known for infinite uploads. What’s that?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah infinite Uploads is a, a plugin that I launched with a friend a few years back in. It gives you, basically extends your WordPress media library to cloud storage. So it gives you infinite amount of storage, essentially. So if you’re like running outta storage or your media’s running slow, you can just connect that plugin and we make it super simple to connect to our cloud storage. And then you don’t have to upgrade your hosting plan or anything like that. You can just seamlessly expand your storage and it just goes straight to our cloud and it’s served from our cdn. So that’s infinite uploads.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And we’re gonna get back to both those, but let’s start just with some current news. You and I both are into Web three and digital assets and figuring out this whole next next chapter and technology that’s been happening. Recently there was a collapse of the F T X exchange and F F T T token which is called into question. A lot of people are, you know, scared or worried or getting out of Web three or crypto.

What, what’s your view on you know, this new technology in the context of what we’re seeing in the news right now in terms of is this all a scam or is there a real technology here? How do you, for somebody who’s not down the rabbit hole like you or I, how do you explain where we are on this current evolution of this new technology?

Aaron Edwards: Sure. Well I guess like from the beginning I, I’ve found like this technology as, as being not really about like speculation and investment. Like I was more focused on like the underlying technology and what it could achieve. And actually playing with and, and building tools and projects off of that Web three Tech. So actually last year founded web3 And just kind of a group of people community where we’re just experimenting with web, web three technology and learning about it more and seeing how it could apply to like WordPress or open source.

So we’ve gotten to do a lot in building and playing with tools like that, NFTs smart contracts and stuff like that. But I still really strongly believe like in the underlying technology the fact that centralized players or whatever people, bad actors, you know, or using this technology to scam people.

I mean, that’s always gonna be the case with any technology, especially newer ones that people don’t understand as well. And in all these cases, it’s usually like some centralized actor. You know, so it’s, it’s not even like an exchange like F T X, they’re a centralization authority. So you’re depositing your tokens and everything with them and then trusting them to not mess around with it. Which of course, greed got the better them, it seems like. And caused a lot of people to lose a lot of money and the smart people are. They know that they need their own wallet and they can store it themselves, you know, and not trust some other third party to, to handle it for them.

And those people are still safe, but , yeah, I still very much believe in the technology and where it’s gonna go. Of course, right now with prices crashed and, and all this stuff in the news and things like that is shaking out a lot of the bad actors. I think what we’ll see over the years is, is the people who are building now and are building tools, honestly, and, and, and based on the technology, instead of just speculation and investment, they’re the ones that are gonna be the next Google and Facebook or whatever, you know, in the coming years. So I think it’s a great time to build and invest even.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And at a high level, what do you think makes is special at the intersection of WordPress and Web three? You know, web three touches a lot of things. It touches findings, it touches identity, it touches contracts you know, all kinds of things. But what about word, the intersection of WordPress and web Web three? What’s the opportunity set there.

Aaron Edwards: For sure. Well, I think like Web 2.0 was kind of the revolution to where you could create your own content on the internet easily, you know, whether that’s social media or blogging. And WordPress was one of the tools that popped up during that Web 2.0 revolution. And it actually has stood out up till now because it allows you to have ownership of your own content still. So you’re hosting it yourself. And this is the, right? Yeah, So instead of it being centralized and whatever you write or type or your blog posts or whatever being owned by some centralized big corporation, tech corporation or something you can actually host and, and own that data yourself.

And, and WordPress through its open source kind of foundations allows you to do that, which was revolutionary and I think still is a real standout among the regular Web 2.0 crowd. But I think that overall like ethos of just open source and owning your own data, I think that ties in really well with Web three. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about decentralization and ownership and using like new technologies that allow you to do that in, in new and exciting ways, digital ownership of content, you know, whether it’s through NFTs or, or tokens to, to handle voting rights and things like that. So I think it’s really interesting to explore, explore those intersections of technology.

Chris Badgett: You think there’s, like, how do you think about like a website being decentralized? Is that even possible? Like it seems like with WordPress, you know, you still have like hosting, you have to have a centralized host, but you know, there’s things like Filecoin and all this technology behind that mm-hmm. for decentralized file storage or whatever, but I mean, not everything needs to be decentralized, I guess. And maybe, I don’t know, I just kind of wanted to, if we look at WordPress specifically, where most people are building websites and web applications mm-hmm. , how will that be impacted the most by Web three? And, and will they, can a, can a website or a web application become truly decentralized coming at it from a WordPress angle?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, I mean, there’s some ways, like for example, right now there’s still a lot of centralization if you’re hosting your own WordPress site. So you got to buy a domain in a domain, you’re buying from some organization, some corporation, and you’re trusting that they’re not gonna take it away or remove it, or the government is not gonna have it taken down, you know? So that’s one issue. I’ve had domains that have been taken offline just because someone filed a false report that it had malware on it, and that crashed like thousands of our customer websites. Oh, wow. It’s like, oh my gosh. It’s like there’s no contr. You don’t really own it. You know, people say you own domains, but you don’t truly, and in web three, there’s already some solutions people trying to solve that like the

Chris Badgett: E n s.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah. E n s domain to where it’s actually decentralized and those domains are actually on the blockchain and immutable, and no one can take them away from you, you know? It can’t be changed. And then you have the whole centralization layer of, even though maybe you own the data, you still, you’re probably not spinning up your own server, like in your house, right? To host your website. You’re probably renting servers from some web host, and so you’re trusting them that they’re not gonna take it down because their terms of service or whatever, because they don’t like what you’re posting or because people filed D M C A claims or whatever, or fake legal threats against them, you know, for hosting your content.

We’ve seen big trend for censorship, you know, lately on the internet. And whether you like it or not, or you think that it should have been censored or not, it’s kind of scary when anyone on a, on a whim can, can decide to de platform you, you know? So you could own your data. But you definitely can be scrub from the internet, so there are things with web three, like you mentioned file coin of stuff I P F S, that’s, that’s a decentralized file storage, and it’s actually possible to host websites with that now at least static websites. So you can point your e n s domain at your static website that’s hosted in actual decentralized storage, and that’s, it can’t be taken down, you know, it can’t be stopped, basically.

Chris Badgett: And it’s actually spread out, if I understand this correctly, across a bunch of people’s unused computer processing space Yeah. That have opted Exactly. The network, right? Yeah, exactly. Which is fascinating cuz that’s kind of efficient or environmental or whatever. It’s like it’s using unused resources for a purpose. It’s kind of cool.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, for sure. I’m also excited about, there’s, there is one blockchain called desso short for decentralized social. Basically they kind of built a new blockchain from the ground up that could handle like large amounts of media, like, so, like, for example, Twitter equivalent or blogging equivalent of data. And that’s actually all stored directly on the blockchain where it’s essentially a centralized, I mean a decentralized database.

So when you write a blog post or your tweet or whatever it is, it actually goes on the DSO blockchain where it can’t be removed, where it can’t be scrubbed or anything like that. And where anyone can spin up their own Twitter or their own Facebook or their own and pull from that data that, that, that decentralized database, you know, there’s, it’s permissionless. Anyone can access it and index it and create their own front end. So I think that’ll be really interesting to see if we can integrate like WordPress using that as a database backend of some sort.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. That’s super cool. And, and drill an end to what you’ve been up to at Web three. Wp as of this recording, there were two main projects. One is the wuss, which if you don’t know, is a it’s basically like, kind of like the mascot of WordPress little character and individuals and companies and certain events kind of make their own character with their own branding and style and stuff like that. That’s what a wpu is. But can you tell us about that and the core contributor N F T project?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, sure. So you may have seen, like on the WordPress news or whatever, last year we actually took the Wpu concept and kind of design and then we, we had some designers and stuff and we actually created 2,222 completely unique Wahoos . Yeah. and we minted them as NFTs and, and, and sold them as NFTs so people could collect them and stuff. And that was kind of a fun way to both for me to learn like smart contract development and, and some of those underlying web three technology of NFTs and educate people. Like we released all that code, open source and tutorials and everything like that.

And also to raise a little bit of funds just to spark that, kick that project off web three So that was a lot of fun. And then the next project that we’ve been working on is the core contributor, N F T, with the idea of being a rewarding people who contribute code to WordPress. So right now, if you contribute on that WordPress about page and the announcement post, you can see like your name there, you know, and sometimes your, your avatar just saying, Hey, you know, the way of thanking people or recognizing people’s contribution to open source.

But we were thinking it’d be really cool to use web three tools like NFTs or tokens to be able to re reward, reward those contributors so they can mint like a collectible N F T for each WordPress release that they contributed to. So we’ve been working on that, and actually just last month I had all the commemorative 3D commemorative coins, you know, that will be the NFTs. So we had those completed by a designer and so hopefully should be rolling that out in the next few months where people can actually mint for free the collectible NFTs. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Any hints for the future of the next web three wp idea or concept or not yet?

Aaron Edwards: There, there is another one. We actually started work already on like a web three plugin or WordPress. Okay. so right now it allows you like single sign on, so you can use your web three wallet, like meta mask to sign in to WordPress and create to create a user account. So that’s really cool. So you’re actually using your own private secret keys, you know, that only, you know, to, to actually sign in to WordPress.

And that can work across any number of WordPress installs. So that was kinda like the first feature we added. And the next ones are probably gonna be token G to where you can use it kind of like a membership site. So if people own a certain N F T collectible or whatever, or token then they would get, get access to private content or things like that. So that way you can use like NFTs as like a membership thing.

Chris Badgett: Is that, would that be a plugin or would that involve a third party?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, that would be part of the plugin

Chris Badgett: I’ve heard of I heard an interview with somebody at the unlock protocol sounded like Yes. Something similar.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah. They’re doing something similar. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: But I know they kind of mentioned WordPress, but they weren’t like exclusively focused on it and

Aaron Edwards: Right.

Chris Badgett: I think that token dating concept, especially for course craters and training based membership sites, the we’re in and a lot of listeners here is a really interesting concept.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, I think so too.

Chris Badgett: And one of the cool things about token gating is, correct me if I’m wrong here, I guess it depends how you set it up, but like, let’s say you, you’ve got a, a token, so now you have access to this course, you can then sell that token to somebody else, right? Or transfer. Yeah,

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, yeah. Usually NFTs are transferrable and they have kind of built in financial plumbing so you can trustless like buy and sell and trade them yeah. In really unique ways. And so it’s a way of being able to, like, whether it’s a ticket or a pass or, or, or you purchase the membership to lift your l m s or whatever it is, you know. Yeah. Then that NFT is kind of like your, your ticket, you know, proving ownership of that and it can be transferrable, which is kind of cool.

Chris Badgett: You you’ve mentioned like LifterLMS as an example, I, I see in the future plug-in licensing being like that, like software licensing being NFTs that, you know, are more easily managed and transferred around. And I think it really changes the game and how we think about affiliate marketing and, and all kinds of things. But most importantly, just access to the software or rights

Aaron Edwards: For sure. And you could do cool things like coding royalties into them. So say someone bought your Black Friday deal mm-hmm. as an N F T, and then later on they wanna sell it, like when they’re not using it, then they can sell it for more. And then every time someone sells that membership, like to perpetuity, perpetuity, either you get a commission on each sale or they get a commission on each sale. Yeah. Or some combination, you know, you can actually tie that into the code so it’s enforceable in just the way it works is kind of cool.

Chris Badgett: I think. That’s fascinating. How far out do you think this future is? Where NFTs are more mainstream, like and more used for just kind of normal things outside of like, art that we see a lot? People think of it as like, art now, but Yeah. Like more utility tickets, licensing, things like that.

Aaron Edwards: I mean, I think it’s starting to happen a lot. Yeah. I mean, besides every major brand having their own N F T already, you know, during kind of the boom in the last year. Yeah. there are a lot that are doing different tickets and things tied to that. A lot of it is gonna be kind of simplified where you might not even realize that it’s A N F T in the backend that it just seems like a normal digital thing that you purchased or whatever. Especially gaming is, is a huge area where, where that’s really taking off right now.

So a lot of games, whether you know it or not, like when you buy assets in them well, there’s like a skin or a dance or whatever it is, you know, Yeah. In that game, it’s actually an N F T, so it’s could actually be like traded or portable or whatever within that game or even potentially between different games as compatibility layers are figured out. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I think that’s part of the challenge is like N F T is a, and then nonfunctional token, and then these wallets and things are a little hard to use for the mainstream or whatever. Right. And when that, when it kind of fades into the background and just powers reality Yeah. Is when it really goes off big. And like you said, it’s already in a lot of places and we don’t realize it.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: One, could you kind of, since you understand the space, so well, one of the things online educators run into is certificates, like certificates of completion, and maybe also the whole trust issue. Like if an employer is trying to hire somebody and they, they see a certificate, but they wanna make sure it’s real, or their education history is real proof of merit you know, certificates on the blockchain. Can you kind of speak to the future of where we’re heading, of what’s possible with, with like somebody’s educational history and how they, how that works in web three or could work?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, that’s actually a really great use case. I haven’t thought much about it, but definitely there’s, there’s things that are being worked on called like a decentralized identity, and that would be a way to use the blockchain to prove like your real identity or even a online identity, like a pseudonym identity to where, for example, a lot of times now you have someone on Twitter or something, they may have a huge audience, whatever, people trust them, but they don’t know who they’re, who they are in real life, you know, know, they know their Twitter handle username, although that could be taken away and it can be easily copied by anyone, you know who are, who are trying to pretend to be you.

But using Web three technology and things like, like e n s is is one kind of early attempt at that. But you can prove ownership by signing things, or like when you create like an MT or things like that, you can prove that you are the true creator because it’s all tied to your cryptographic key and no one has your cryptographic key. So you’re the only one that can sign messages and prove that you are that true person or true owner, true identity. So when it comes to any kind of like organization or educational institution, they could definitely do that.

When they create credentials and things like that, those can go on the blockchain. And NFTs are kind of like a, a great use case or something like that because you can store a lot of metadata and different things with that. And you can tie that to like that specific person or whatever, so they can prove that they’re the true owner and you could even turn off transferability, things like that. So there’s something called a, a Soul bound N F T. Have you heard of that?

Chris Badgett: I haven’t heard of that One.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, so it’s, that’s kind of a great use case for that. So the idea of being that it’s an N F T and that it’s one of a kind and only one person or one wallet can own it at a time, but that once it’s issued, it’s tied to a specific identity or, or cryptographic key. So it’s non-transferable. That’s something great for any kind of credentials or things like that where you don’t want someone to be able to, you know, sell their diploma to someone else, or, or transfer ownership on the blockchain. So that’s, that’s, that would be called a so bound N F T. So that’d be like a great use case for that kind of thing that you’re talking about. For sure.

Chris Badgett: One of the things to share just that really opened my mind to this whole world is like, we already kind of live in it. Like when you’re born, you get like a social security number, and then you have a driver’s license, right? Like these contracts and these credentials already exist in a very centralized way in some database mm-hmm. . And this is just like an evolution of that technology for the better, in my view.

Aaron Edwards: For sure.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, This is a, is what I’m saying is it’s not like this, everything here is all new. It’s actually better ways of doing things from even like real estate deeds. It’s a contract or mm-hmm. or, or relationship at work, like an employment agreement. It is a contract that we’re trying to make these things better through this tech.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah. I think like if I, I was the president or whatever, the government,

Chris Badgett: I’ll write You in, man.

Aaron Edwards: I would def I’ll write you in, I would definitely like create some of these things that can tie like credentials and stuff to the blockchain, and you can do it in a, what’s really cool, you can do it in a privacy protecting way. So for example, say you have a website that needs to restrict access to a certain age group, right? Mm-Hmm. like you, you can’t, you have to be over 13 or whatever to access or buy this or whatever it is. Right now, the only way they can do that is by some weird clunky thing where you like, take a screenshot of your face and hold up your driver’s license.

You know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah. And even that is subject to all kinds of abuse. But with something like decentralized identity, you can actually just have them sign a message with their wallet, with their cryptographic key, and then that can release not how old they are or what their birthday is or what their name is. It could release only the data that, that they need a yes or no, are you of age or not? You know, so you’re protecting identity, privacy, all those kinds of things like that.

Chris Badgett: You’re just getting the variable that mattered right

Aaron Edwards: There. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And so you can do that with any kind of thing that needs to be verified, whether it’s diplomas, credentials, whatever, like that you can maintain privacy in some really cool ways because you both trust that that source of truth, whether it’s a government thing where they’re putting that on the blockchain, you know, or what, whatever it may be. So

Chris Badgett: What in terms of blockchain, you know, outside of there’s, there’s Bitcoin and then you have the layer one s like Ethereum, solana, polka dot cardan, like how much, do you have a view on the underlying chains of like, where we’re going? Or is this just kind of like a massive experi experimentation phase where a lot of these will die and we don’t really know Ethereum’s really big right now, but it might change, might not. Like what, how does the underlying chain matter?

Aaron Edwards: I mean, I think it does, like, especially when you want like we’re gonna look for that central source, you know, it’s like what database are you using? Is what you’re asking, you know? Yeah. so Bitcoin I think has proven to be quite lasting, even though it’s the original technology. But that’s part of his draw is that it’s unchanged and it’s been proven over so many years to be resilient. And so that’s kind of seen as like the digital gold or whatever as you’re, as your like most trusted kind of source or whatever. And it’s fully decentralized and that no one owns it. There’s no, there’s no benevolent dictator or whatever, you know?

Yeah. It’s really difficult. He’s managing that product, which is as decentralized and open source as you can get. And then you have kind of like all these new fancy stuff where it’s kind of questionable how decentralized they are because like the nodes and things are controlled by a majority of people that have like certain invested stakes in it. You know? Ethereum is kind of my, that’s my bet more long term just because they’re the originator of like smart contracts, which have, which has basically enabled what is web three and yeah, they’re not super scalable and can be expensive to like, build things on.

But there’s already tons of solutions there that utilize that as the source of truth, like layer twos and, and rollups and things like that, that allow you to scale that to unlimited numbers, but still trust in the basic underlying decentralization of, of the Ethereum network itself. So, cool. That’s what, that’s what I’m betting on both in, both in building, like when I code new things, and also like if I’m gonna put money into it, I do it in, in the Bitcoin and Ethereum kind of for long term.

Chris Badgett: We’re gonna go back to web two in a second, but if somebody out there is kind of getting curious about Web three, for you as a developer or as a WordPress professional, like what are some places you go to learn about this new world? And I mean, you’ve been in it for a while, but what, what are some resources that you could point people to?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah. Well, first there’s web three, We have a bunch of stuff on there example code and things like that. And then, gosh, I, you caught me up. Mostly like, since me being a developer,

Chris Badgett: You got a GitHub, like open source projects.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, open source projects. There’s some really good like like people that are on YouTube and, and Twitter and stuff, they’re just doing good, like CONT tutorials and things like that. So there is a whole lot of noise out there about the investing side mm-hmm. . but I think more important is understanding like the technology side that will get you a lot further in the long run. So that’s what I would look for. And there is plenty of good, good sources of content out there for that.

Chris Badgett: And I’ll just say for the for, I’m, I’m a not a developer myself. The I really have learned a lot by some interviews on the, the real vision crypto channel. They, they do get into the investing stuff, but they also have a lot of interviews that are purely around the technology and what’s happening. Mm-Hmm. let’s go to web two a little bit.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, different, everything.

Chris Badgett: So this, this podcast helps WordPress professionals and education entrepreneurs. And you’ve, you’ve got a lot going on in, in the education space. Tell us about campus press and edgy blogs. What are they and

Aaron Edwards: Sure.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, tell us more.

Aaron Edwards: Well, my, well, my day job, I’m the CTO O of Insub, which is a weird name that no one knows. And it basically, it’s main product is W P M U Dev, which a lot of people are familiar with, cuz it’s one of the largest WordPress businesses

Chris Badgett: Out there. And just real quick on that, you guys sell, do you sell all the plugins as one subscription or how does that work? And you have hosting too?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, there’s one off. Basically our idea is to create like all the core things that you need for WordPress. So whether it’s managed hosting, whether it’s all your core plug-ins that include SEO and forms and security image optimization. There’s a core suite of like eight plug-ins that, that are included with that membership. And we do sell like, plans of, of one-off, you know, if that’s really all you need. But we also provide hosting and a lot of like really cool, like a real focus is on agencies and, and people who are kind of like running WordPress sites.

And so we provide a, a whole suite of really useful tools for agencies all in one, one spot. So you can use our hub to manage all your sites remotely, automatic updates uptime management, basically everything you need, including manage hosting, including reselling. That’s a big thing we’ve been focusing on. So we have all these really cool tools where you can white label our hub for your clients embedded on your own website, so you can do all your reselling and and management of everything like that all under your own brand.

And even our plug-ins can be white labeled that way too, so we don’t have learning management, so you still gotta use , Lifter for that. But yeah, so that, so that’s what we do. And then we have kind of some side things campus press that you mentioned, which is enterprise hosting for mostly higher education. Some

Chris Badgett: Tell us about that kind of client like education. What do they need? Like what are they, what makes their, their need? Like is each department have its own website or it’s a giant multi-site, or what is it?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, we have different things. When we originally started out really we are the like multi-site experts, so and that was used a lot in education and so kind of focus on, on enterprise multi-site hosting for that. And so we’ll have, you know, big name universities we have. I’m not sure which ones I’m allowed to mention, but yeah, if, if you know the name of the university, there’s a good chance we host them. And

Chris Badgett: Can you describe, can you describe what multisite is if somebody doesn’t know?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, sure. Multisite is basically something that’s kind of secret and hidden away in WordPress that you can, can enable. And it allows one WordPress install to manage an unlimited amount of WordPress sites. So they share the user base. So like your same user login can be used across hundreds of different blogs or, or, or sites. And they share the same code base. So if you have one set of plug-ins and themes installed, then all those sites all share that same code base.

So if you need to update WordPress, instead of updating a hundred thousand, we have clients with a hundred thousand blogs, you know, or more hosted on us. And so obviously that’s not really scalable to be updating or managing your plugin updates for a hundred thousand sites. Yeah. Like that. So multi-site allows you to do that with one WordPress install. But of course that scale you need, you need a pretty big powerful hosting provider. And that’s what we provide,

Chris Badgett: Which you offer as well. What, what’s an example like structure of a university’s web property? Like Yeah, yeah. Like what do they have?

Aaron Edwards: So we have different ones. We have one that they have basically it’s under their main domain, I think. And then like they have students that can each set up their own kind of portfolio site blog, and that uses like a predefined template theme and it’s all powered by their single sign-ons. They’re still using their university login to create their blog and to sign in and stuff like that. And they create their own little portfolio site when they start as a student. And then throughout their time as a student, they’re actually updating their portfolio there.

So that’s one use use case. Probably our most popular is it’ll be like one setup and they’ll use it for all, like the subsites for like different departments or, or groups or organizations like sub-organization. So, cause a lot of times school or the, yeah, a lot of department in the higher ed, they’ll have every like little group, whatever they’re say we need our own website, you know, or we need to be able to like, have our own blog or updates or whatever it may be. That way they can just create one big install and then it’s super easy for them to use like a shared theme and design style and, and plugins and stuff like that. So that they can create their own like little branded like sub portals, you know, for the different sites for the university.

Chris Badgett: How’s that does like the university typically have like a IT department with some WordPress pros in there? The interface with you or you guys doing all of it? Or how does that work?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, usually there’s, there’s someone, the, the geek, you know, the resident geek , and they’re kind of, they interface with us, so we manage the hosting and then at that, at that level, it’s very much kinda like WordPress v i p to where we’re reviewing and vetting every like, line of code that they want to commit or, or push customization, you know, to make sure that it can scale and that it has the security that the customer needs and things like that. So they’re kind of interfacing with, with our developers and we do some custom client work for them too. Sometimes if they need like a, a customization or theme built or things like that, then we do that.

Chris Badgett: That’s neat. WordPresses scale in, in universities and edgy blogs, is that what you said? The thing where the students have their own blog? Is that, is that what edgy blogs is or is that something else?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, edgy blogs is kind of like our but for education. Okay. So that’s targeted at mostly like individual teachers. So if like a campus isn’t trying to have their own custom thing mm-hmm. , then a teacher can, can spin up an edgy blog and they can have their students like register like underneath it and they each have their own little blogs and use that for teaching and things like that.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, let’s get, let’s round the land the plane back to where we started, which Is.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: The imagine ai and then let’s start with infinite uploads since that’s more just as we talk about WordPress site management and stuff like that, what does, tell us about that and, and, and also how much of that can, can get involved in video? Yeah, hosting, like, cuz I get this question from course graders who mm-hmm. , you know, they don’t, they may not wanna put their stuff on Vimeo Vimeo or whatever.

Aaron Edwards: Exactly.

Chris Badgett: But then there’s the challenge. Yeah. Yeah. So tell us about it or, and Amazon’s like, too hard to manage or whatever, so,

Aaron Edwards: Right. Yeah. So like kind of the idea is infinite of Infinites was just making like cloud storage accessible to the masses. Cuz there have been other plug-ins like S3 offload plug-in and things like that, that allow you to extend WordPress to like cloud storage, but it’s very complicated to set up and you have to get all the permissions, then you have to get a CDN somewhere else and configure that and all the DNS and it’s, it’s gonna be a mess if you’re not really technical person, you know.

So our idea, our idea was just to make a super simple where you just click connect and then that creates all the storage and secures it and sets up a CDN for you and handles the syncing of media back and forth to the cloud and all that, you know, just with, just with a few clicks. So that’s kind of the idea of infinite uploads and that is a huge pain point for large sites, whether it’s like a multi-site or especially probably learning management sites that have courses and stuff. They can have a lot of media and

Chris Badgett: Pdfs.

Aaron Edwards: They need, yeah. Pdfs, whatever it may be, you know, and be able need to be able to handle all that. So I think Inpo is pretty helpful with that as far as video. It works great for that too and that it serves, it uploads it and serves it from our cloud. But a lot of things, a lot of our customers, that’s one of the things that they’ve probably are most asked for features that say, oh, we want, we don’t want like to use Vimeo or something like that.

Because yes, you can upload, you can encode your own video, then upload it and then embed it in your plugin or video player or whatever. But that’s really technical, you know, people want a YouTube like solution or you can just upload any file size and then it converts it to all the different sizes and embeds it for you. So we’re actually working on that right now. It’s in development, so that’s gonna be an add-on for infinite uploads to make it’s super easy to where you can just upload your video file and then it creates.

You know, five or six different versions for all different sizes and, and, and browsers and devices and everything like that and, and has a fully customizable player and different things like that. So that’ll be great for people who are doing online courses, cuz I know that’s a huge need for them. They can do that without, so not only it’s it encoding, it’s hosting and embedding and, and customization and all that. Yeah, that’s coming soon.

Chris Badgett: All right, well that’s infinite and let’s go back into imagine that’s Im a j I n So this, there’s a challenge with WordPress sites where we wanna put it in a picture, but we don’t want to get stuck with some copyright infringement or we don’t know where to get high quality pictures.

Aaron Edwards: Right.

Chris Badgett: Tell us, tell us what we can do with imagine.

Aaron Edwards: Well, I’m sure it’s, you’d have to be under a rock to not have seen like, all the developments in the last few months. It’s been crazy, you know, starting with Dolly from Open AI and then Google showing, demoing their own stuff. There’s this called Image gin, I think, and Facebook has their own. And basically these are large AI models that have been created using billions and billions of images scraped from the internet and labeling them, tagging them, connecting them to text that describes them, and then training these giant AI models that allow you to just by typing in what you wanna see, create an image or, or artwork. And it’s just magical the first time you try it. there’s, there’s no other way to describe it that you can type in what you wanna see.

Chris Badgett: I tried it, and this is on my phone. I just typed in like shaman in the forest in this. Oh wow. This, this, this really cool picture came up and I was just like, yeah, it, it is. The first time you see it, you’re like, whoa. That’s wild.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, , it’s magical. There isn’t any other way to describe it. Yeah. and so these other models that have, that were developed and kind of announced and showed off and stuff, they’ve been closed this year. Open AI gave, like, they had a wait list access, everyone was trying to get in, you know but they’re very restrictive of what you could do with it and how you could use it. In fact, it was only, I think last week that they finally created an api unlimited API so that you could start to try to integrate it into other products.

But what actually happened is a some millionaire was like, I love AI is really cool. I think he’s actually like some hedge fund guy. He a few months back he’s like seeing what’s going on and he is like, I’m just gonna donate a bunch of money and to a group of kind of an open source group of AI researchers and say, okay, I want you to build your own model that we’re gonna release open source to the public.

Because, and this is called Stable Diffusion. And see, the, the problem with AI is it hasn’t been accessible to the masses except through big tech corporations. Because first of all, this technology is like so new and revolutionary. But also like to train a model of that size, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in compute time for paying for all those GPUs in the cloud to be crunching all those images and, and to train the models. You know, so it’s not accessible like for someone just to create that themselves , cuz it costs a lot of time and a lot of money to do it. Even if you can gather enough data when you have tech giants like Google and Facebook, I mean, they have unlimited amounts of access to data that they can use to train this stuff, you know, in huge budgets.

So anyways, so he donated bunch of money to be able to, to be able to train this model called stable Diffusion. And so it was released at the end of August very beginning of September. The minute that came out, it was like off to the races, you know, the power of open source Yeah. And of people building products, of developing new technologies and ways to adapt and, and use that, that model, that base model to do new and exciting things has been amazing. You know. So as soon as that came out, I was frantically looking, okay, this is amazing. It’s the new Gold Rush, you know, the AI gold rush , how, how can I get that to run like in WordPress, you know, or be useful for WordPress. And so that’s when we dropped that plugin called Imagine which you can use right now.

It’s on the WordPress is on the, is on the repository. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. And the only downside is that it takes a lot of compute power to run this, you know? Mm-Hmm. we actually have to spin up like cloud servers with a 100 GPUs, which are like a $20,000 gpu, you know, to run it at any kind of like useful speed, you know like even if like they’ve only recently gotten it to work on like the latest max, you know? Okay. And that takes like one minute for one image. That’s comparison, you know, and the compute power that it takes to, to do this.

So, what what we do is for the plug-in is we actually give you a certain amount of free credits, so you can try it, you can generate a whole bunch of images see how it likes, and then we have some paid plans if you want to get more credits or, or subscribe to a certain amount of like, credits to use. But the idea is that you have this right within WordPress. When you’re creating a post or page or course, you can just click that button to insert that new Gutenberg block or use our admin page where you can do it, and then you can just type in the, what you wanna see as an image. So whatever it may be, you’re only limited by your imagination, you know,

Chris Badgett: Empowering the visionaries. I love that.

Aaron Edwards: Exactly.

Chris Badgett: And Do you have some statement that’s like a lot of people kind of sometimes make fun of the Metaverse , or, I mean, it’s like a, it’s a term, you know you know, like Facebook or Meta’s thing where the people don’t have legs or whatever. But if we actually think optimistically about the future of online learning and the Metaverse or whatever, like what do you see out, like where’s, what is the big opportunity with the Metaverse and how is it different from you know, perhaps just websites or yeah. What, what, what, yeah. Metaverse the metaverse of learning. What, what would you like to see happen?

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, I think a lot of that is still to play out. Like yeah, of course, like with Facebook or Zuckerberg and all this Tang kind of metaverse to being VR necessarily. Like, to me, like I have my own definition of metaverse. Like, to me, think about how much percentage of your time you spend behind a screen now, right? Mm-Hmm. and compared to 10 years ago or whatever. And to me, like the Metaverse really just is just a continuation of us moving our lives into a digital world. So, I mean, now your job is through a screen, you know, your, your friends are through a screen. Your social life is through a screen. Your entertainment is through a screen.

And so I, I think that already in some respects, living in a metaverse. And so it’s just a matter of, of where you’re gonna be spending that time hanging out or working or whatever it may be. So I’m not convinced that that’s gonna be vr. I mean, I think that’ll be part of it, but I don’t think that anytime soon we’re all gonna be living and doing our work and everything goggles. Some Yeah, , in goggles, you know? But I think as a trend, yeah, that’s where we’re going. And that’s where like, like l m s is, that’s, that’s just time, that’s just a part of that, you know, when it comes to learning in the metaverse, you know, in that digital world and being able to make that accessible to more people without geographic restrictions, time restrictions, things like that.

So yeah, I’m sure there’ll be like, new developments like being able to do learning through VR or things like that. There’s, there’s stuff that are gonna be really powerful, you know, using those, those tools and stuff. But I think more in general, it’s, it’s better to think of it as just the overall trend of us living more and more in the digital world, you know, and interacting more in a digital world.

Chris Badgett: And one piece of advice, it’s good to get outta the building and not spend full time in the Metaverse as a WordPress professional, we go to these things sometimes called Word camps. And I actually met Aaron in person recently outside of the Metaverse. And that was that was good to see in person. Cuz you’re right, we do spend, you know, I probably spend at least my work life, 99% of it online, right? Yeah. That 1% is cool to get out, maybe more than 1%, but well that’s Aaron Edwards. He’s at Infinite Uploads. You can find [email protected]. You wanna spell that for us one more time?

Aaron Edwards: Sure. I m a j i n

Chris Badgett: Aaron’s also a, a, you know, has a lot of cool stuff going on. You can find us home [email protected]. It kind of links out to a lot of things. I hope you enjoyed this episode. We went into the web three, we went into ai, we went into WordPress, multisite, the education niche, WordPress and universities. Yeah. creating images from your mind, profile pictures and and you know, how to manage media for course creators. So Aaron, thanks for coming on the show. Any final words for the people or anywhere else you wanna send them? Aaron’s also on Twitter. It’s ugly robot on Twitter or ugly robot.

Aaron Edwards: Robot dev. Yeah. To Evie on Twitter.

Chris Badgett: Any final words for the people?

Aaron Edwards: No, I just I guess just, I’m interesting to see how people use AI and some of these AI tools that I’ve been building for learning management. I think that’ll be really cool to see people find some like interesting cool use cases for that. So show me what you got and hit me up at Twitter at Ugly Robot Dev.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks for coming to the show, Aaron. We really appreciate It.

Aaron Edwards: Yeah, thanks for having me, Chris.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMSCast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you [email protected] slash gift. Go to Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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