Will I Be Able To Stay Relevant With WordPress?

As I was writing an article for the Tavern containing my thoughts on a few of the topics I’d like to see new sites dedicated to WordPress cover, I wondered if WordPress has passed me up. Five to six years ago, I felt like I had a good handle on what WordPress was doing and where it was going. Now, not so much.

Not only do I not know where it’s going, I’m personally not interested in some of the topics that WordPress users today want to know about. eCommerce, the business of WordPress, enterprise, and application development. These things sound cool, but hurt my head just thinking about them.

I have no idea how to be relevant with these topics since I’ve never operated a WordPress business, have no experience with enterprise, never operated an eCommerce store using WordPress, or know anything about product development or pricing. Some of those topics scream BORING to me and the best content is based on real life experience.

I’ve always written about WordPress from a user point of view as I’ve primarily used WordPress for publishing and managing content. Every now and then, checking out new plugins and themes. Over the years, I’ve become less of a tinkerer and have become comfortable with the way the Tavern operates. I don’t experiment as much as I used to.

If I’m not already, at some point, I think people like me who use WordPress just for blogging and managing content are going to be considered old school. Using it as a foundation for applications, frameworks, eCommerce, or powerful solutions to problems is going to be the cool, shiny way to use WordPress. I’m wondering when/if what I have to offer the WordPress community in terms of information, experience, etc will just be irrelevant to the trends, topics, and use cases of WordPress in the near future.

I don’t think it will be any time soon considering the huge user base of novice-intermediate users who are always looking for the next cool theme or efficient plugin to handle tasks. But it is something I’ve been thinking about and will continue to think about in the foreseeable future.

 

Ask Me Anything

Reddit has this thing where you can ask people anything and supposedly, they’ll answer any question you ask. The whole concept is funny to me because I live my life based on the ask me anything mantra.

Unfortunately, there have been several instances where being honest has gotten me in more trouble than just lying or making something up. It’s a shame really because if I ever have kids, I’ll have to explain to them that honesty is a double-edged sword. Oh, and some people really can’t handle the truth.

So, if you want to take me up on my offer, use the comments to ask me a question, about anything. I’ll have to choose which side of the sword to use for my answer :)

 

WordPress Is Nothing To Lose Sleep Over

When it comes to WordPress, I have my personal views and takes on things but for the most part, I can be persuaded to one side or the other of an argument. I don’t ever claim to know everything as that’s impossible.

What I enjoy most about WordPress is talking about it with others. Discussing ideas, the future, the past, what mountain is in the way that needs to be blown up! I don’t have a personal allegiance to one side of an argument unless I strongly agree with something. Only then do I fight for what I believe is right.

WordPress is just software. Software that powers over 20% of the web of course but at the end of the day, it’s just software. It’s nothing to lose sleep over.

Productivity Maxed In The Middle Of The Night

I’m beginning to think that the years I spent working 9PM to 5AM Eastern on the night crew shift at the grocery store has ruined me. It’s been over a year since I left that lifestyle and yet, in the middle of the night is when I’m most productive.

I’ve always been a night person. I hate getting up early and by early I mean 8, 9 AM. When I start my work day at 7 or 8 AM, I feel like a zombie. By noon, I want to take a nap and if I fall asleep in my La-Z-Boy, I won’t be getting up for a while thereby ruining any chance of getting done early.

The middle of the night is nice. People are gone or asleep and the tasks I’m working on have my full attention. The jams are maxed out in my headphones and I’m in the zone. It’s when I get the (best) most work done.

Is it a healthy work style? Probably not, but damn, it’s productive for me.

Can Writing About WordPress Change Someone’s Life?

I write about WordPress for a living. It’s a great job, has its pros and cons like anything else in life but I’ve been able to turn some of the cons into pros lately. I don’t think of my job as anything special. I write my opinions, thoughts, and generally just cover the WordPress ecosystem. It’s not something I’d consider world-changing.

I don’t think I can change someone’s life for the better simply by writing about them, their product, or their visions. Maybe I can? It’s just that so many people have an occupation that benefits society. I wonder what my place is in the grand scheme of things. People value WordPress news, what I write, and appreciate the heads up on things I think they should know about. But does that change their life for the better? It’s not like I’m building a house for a needy family, or participating in a charity that gives people a second chance at life.

Perhaps changing someone’s life is too extreme of a desire. Instead, I’d like to know that because of my work, they are more successful than they would be without it. If I became a millionaire, I’m that guy that would continue to eat at Applebees, Fridays or Longhorns and talk to the servers. Find out what pain points they have in life and if financial aid would be the biggest help, give it to them with a fat tip. I’d be so giving with my money, I’d probably end up broke again while others benefited. That’s just who I am.

WordPress may be just software made up of code that runs on servers, but it’s the backbone of so many sites. Sites that are trying to change lives and make an impact for so many people on this planet.

So in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think what I do for a living is earth shattering, life changing stuff. But I love it when someone tells me face to face at a WordCamp that because of what I do or a post I’ve written, they’ve been more successful whether it’s financially or the exposure opened up new doors. Those are the times I’m reminded that even a young man in the buckeye state can make a positive impact on people’s lives that he may never cross paths with.

 

Censorship At The Price Of Success and Fame

The price of success is censorship. We bring it on ourselves, and we enforce it on others with this giant pyramid scheme which we call “life”.

So says John O’ Nolan, the man who founded the Ghost blogging platform. How can anyone with any measure of success not feel the same way he does? I’m not even a celebrity and it strikes a chord with me. As Nolan explains, the little guy, the underdog, can get away with being themselves, speaking their mind, with little to fear. The more success and fame you achieve, the more aware you have to be of what you say, act, and do. You end up having to structure your life in a way that doesn’t piss anyone off. God forbid if you do something in your personal time and or space that reflects poorly on your employer.

Five to six years ago, I was the little guy, the underdog speaking his mind about all things WordPress. I didn’t care about traffic, I cared about what people thought. The Tavern was a place for not only myself to voice opinions, criticisms, and just report on things I found cool or interesting in the community, but it was a soapbox via the comments and forums for everyone else to chime in. The bigger I could make the Tavern, the louder the voice I gave to those who didn’t have one. During the past few weeks, I’ve struggled to figure out why the job I was a natural at is now so fucking difficult. I question how I put myself in this position.

Now that the Tavern is owned by Matt Mullenweg and I’m an employee of Audrey Human Capital, everything I say, do, or act out is magnified and representative of my employer. I’m not the little guy anymore, I’m the big fish in the pond. Now there are huge responsibilities that I’ve struggled to carry on my shoulders. Even if no one tells me to watch what I say or censors me, it’s a natural occurrence because of fear. All it takes is for the fear to be present to alter behaviour. Fear of losing my job for saying the wrong thing. Fear of upsetting everyone for being wrong in a story. Fear of making my boss look like an idiot for employing me. Fear of not being able to be myself because being myself is offensive to people.

Yet, not once has any of those fears been realized. But then again, I’ve never been close enough to determine whether those fears are justified. Those fears are the electric fences that Nolan mentions, I’ve put up around me.

When you have nothing, you don’t fear being torn to shreds by the mob. You stand up and you call bullshit when you see it. But then when you start to do well… when you start to make a name for yourself… when you start to make money or have a certain number of Twitter followers, the spotlight turns to you.

You start to be more diplomatic and politically correct. You start to mould yourself into the shape of what everyone else expects you to be, because if you aren’t that, then the mob is waiting like it’s Lord of The fucking Flies.

Electric fences start to pop up all around you. Issues which you don’t even go near because touching them, in any way, is fatal. You can’t talk about sexism any more, because one wrong move there is career-ending. You don’t call out the bullshit industry awards, because you’re nominated to win some of them. You fail to draw attention to the morally bankrupt venture capitalists and journalists, because then they might not write about you or give you money any more.

So you mellow. And slowly but surely you turn into the very thing that you once rebelled against so strongly in your first album. When you had a voice. When you actually fucking stood for something.

And then you can’t talk about anything any more. The fear has taken over. All hope of the change that you once so strongly believed in has now been lost.

So the advice I get is to let loose, be myself, that’s the Jeff they want to see come through in what I write. But how the hell can I be that Jeff if I’m subjecting myself to so many fears, pressures, and all sorts of other bullshit. Why is writing about WordPress the way I want to write about it so god damn hard for me? What happened over the past year or so to take that Jeff away.

It’s so ridiculous that people can’t be themselves as they acquire more fame and success because of fear. It’s bullshit but that’s the way it is.