I attended and spoke at WordCamp San Francisco this year, and the experience, community, content, and implications blew my mind.
Holy moly, did I ever.
I attended the technical sessions and understood, genuinely, 20% of what I heard in the weekend’s presentations. Okay, maybe 15%. I don’t know the acronyms, I don’t know the language. But I solved those small technicalities with a post-session questions to the friendly people around me. [I, in return, explained to them what recycled leather is. Misnomer. It’s upcycled leather scraps, not recycled anything. In fact, recycled leather is the plywood of fabrics. Or the Pringles of fabrics. Or…okay, that’s enough.)
More generally than not knowing the vernacular of development, though, I don’t know the thought processes behind building platforms and plugins. I’ve never thought about the structure on which my blogs reside.
There’s the base structure of the web, of content management, of plugin modifications, of things I don’t have words for. I’ve simply never even thought about how the technology works. And I don’t think I’m alone.
What if you parked at your house every day, put your key in the door, and instantly it was the next morning? You’re refreshed from sleep and food, you’ve changed your clothes and cleaned up. But you have no idea how. You don’t know what the inside of a house looks like, you don’t know how plumbing and electricity work. You don’t know there a distinct structures for food, sleep, movement, entertainment. You don’t know about hot showers.
[Dude. Hot showers completely foreign and inaccessible? This metaphor is totally creeping me out.]
It would feel weird coming home and leaving again, right? With a black hole in which your living-slash-resting-slash-eating processes happen?
That’s now how I now feel about blogging. I feel as though I’m missing half of my blogging life by creating content and publishing it, without knowing the structures on which my blogs reside.
And I want to learn the guts. I want to learn the language of coding, I want to teach that language to bloggers. Or, at least, I want to build/supplement/fortify a really awesome bridge from developers to bloggers, so we can consider the people behind the code-poetry on which our posts live. If we know that there are different rooms for different functions, if we actually choose the food instead of just fueling with whatever we’re given, if we learn the glory of a hot shower and know that we could, if we want, choose a bath instead, wouldn’t that bring more life to the ways in which we publish our writing, photography, and images?
You choose what type of paper you write on, right? You know what you do if you have to scribble on napkins and envelopes, then save them for later, right? You know how to translate your late night, sleep-drunk scribblings into posts? What about the digital napkins and envelopes and notebooks and Moleskins?
All through the conference—in Boone Gorges’s compelling call to contribute, volunteer, and consider pro bono code the same way we all volunteer in our communities; in Andrew Nacin’s talk about globalization and how to think about more than just language and access but to understand why those are important; through Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address about developing the future and democratizing publishing; in Mickey May’s celebration of announcing you don’t know and learning from the community of developers; in Josepha Hayden’s talk on writing for two audiences (the one that reads posts and the one that crawls them for search engines); in Tracy Levesque’s presentation on how to effectively teach software use–genuinely smart and engaging people talked about making code useful. For users.
I’ve never been called a user before. In my world I’m a writer, an editor, a blogger, a creative. I know my role in the agency world, consultant world, and publishing world. I have literally no clue about my role in the blogging world, despite having been a blogger since 2008. At WordCamp I felt like an exotic animal sitting in on the zookeepers’ meeting. They certainly respected my role and wanted to honor it. But I never realized brilliant people were building and supporting my blog for me. I assumed the toys and plants and prey staged in my exhibit were just there, but smart and resourceful zookeepers placed them there. Zookeepers? Blogkeepers? My extended metaphor is tiring me.
I’m used to talking with bloggers about writing. I’m not used to thinking about how my blogging behaviors affect the platform on which I publish.
Your developers have.
Take a bow, Crew, Stage Managers, Lighting, Sound, Production, Costume, Marketing. Take a bow, Developers. You really have revolutionized publishing, democratizing what used to be a highly privileged act, and made it free and public. You have a lot more work to do, I know. I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Thank you WordCamp. You rocked my world, and I shall now do my best to bring that sense of wonder and engagement to bloggers.