There was a curfew in force so I met the founder of Rapid Ideas in a smoky basement tavern on a deserted backstreet deep in the old town. Moonlight glistened on broken cobblestones even the militia feared to tread.
A sign behind the bar proclaimed Beards will be prosecuted so we pushed our way through to the back and found a booth. I called the waitress over. “Nice ass,” I told her. “And make it snappy.”
“And your freind?”
“Absinthe. And bring the bottle, sugarlips, he’s a web designer.”
When the drinks arrived Christophe Richardet downed his in one and poured another. “Let’s talk revolution,” he said.
It’s why I was there. “The French are currently revolting,” I said. “Do you think web designers should be forced to work at least 3 hours a week?”
Richardet said, “I think web designers should work until they die. There are so many awful web pages out there, we need a lifetime to correct them. We have to be idealists and idealists never retire.”
“Revolution is all about changing the structure and balance of power,” I said. “Is asking your customers to decide how much to pay for your Revolution package your way of returning power to the purchaser?”
“Of course! I think users should always have the option to decide on what a software is worth to pay. Not every USD is the same for everybody. If you live in Switzerland as I do, life is very expensive – especially if you have a family like me. So USD $1 means less to me than it does for someone with no family and living in, let’s say, Estonia. But as I too have to survive, so I have to set a minimum price.”
The tavern was full of cleanshaven types, talking low beneath watchful eyes. Tension stretched the air. I said, “As a nihilist anarcho-syndicalistic new romantic necrophiliac fundamentalist with absolutely no fashion sense, come the revolution I’ll no doubt be one of the first wearing flares against the wall… Where will you be?”
He looked at me with something like admiration in his eyes. It was pity. So I asked him how long he’d been developing and designing RapidWeaver themes and he told me he couldn’t remember. I glanced at the empty bottle of absinthe.
“But it was before RapidWeaver moved to table-less designs,” he added. “Then in 2005 I built a site for a private project, and developed my own theme for it. After posting the example in the RW forum, users encouraged me to sell this revolutionary theme. It was called Camilo. Before Camilo, all RW designs were very similar: a header, sidebar and expanding content. And this new design was something the users liked a lot. This was the birth of Rapid Ideas at the end of October 2005.”
Five years, I thought. Five years ago I’d been a happily married man with a beard. Now I was just a happily married man. How things change.
I said, “What revolutionary changes have you witnessed in RapidWeaver theme design? Or is it in a state of permanent revolution?”
“My goal was always to invent something new that has never been seen in RW themes,” Richardet said. “But this doesn’t stop with themes only. Also the ability to try out a demo version before the purchase and providing a utility to manage the images in a theme were new, and I think I am still the only developer who does it. I think the most important thing is that my themes always try to look different in the design with innovative features like the option to set up a multi-lingual site (Konzern); loading external content — e.g. from a WordPress Blog — into the page content (Modulo 2) and many more. You can find a ‘revolutionary’ feature or design idea in most of my themes.”
The sound of an explosion stilled the tavern. Gunfire in the distance. But the silence lasted only moments. We were used to the sirens now.
I said, “You constantly update your older themes, adding new features to them. Is all the effort worth it?”
“Economically speaking, there are better ways to earn money. But RW theme design is my passion, I really love to do it and so, even though we have to turn over every penny, it is worth it. I can’t say at the moment how long I will be able to continue with it on a daily basis but my heart will forever beat for RW and Realmac Software.”
She was sitting at the bar, watching me over the rim of her glass. She had everything a man desired. Except a beard. I rubbed my stubbled chin and asked Richardet why Amnesty International?
“There are so many important organizations you could spend your money. For me, giving a voice to minorities always was very important, especially if the regime gives them no oportunity to speak. I believe humans know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad – yes, I am an idealist, I know. The problem is power — political and religious power — and money. We have to support human rights and this is why I decided to donate 20% of the sale to Amnesty International. AI is monitoring the conventions of human rights and it shows us once more that having conventions alone won’t do it.”
Richardet was staring into the distance, revolutionary dreams like stardust in his eyes. I said, “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin will of course be most remembered for his beard… do you think more emphasis should be placed on beards in RapidWeaver theme design?”
Before he could reply the door burst open and the tavern filled with gun-toting militia men. They herded us against a wall. She came off her barstool and pointed me out to the sergeant. They dragged me out onto the street. I looked back and saw Richardet already with pen and paper, designing his next theme. I knew he wouldn’t let my sacrifice be forgotten. Look out for his next great revolutionary theme — ‘Beardista‘.