Recently I was invited to appear on the podcast WP Hacker Cast by a prominent WordPress Cape Town community member, and an all around great guy – Jonathan Bossenger
We had a great conversation about my development career, how I ended up at Automattic, WordPress, and just had a great time for an hour and 20 minutes! Let me know what you thought in the comments on his site, or here!
I was browsing the WordPress.org plugins repo looking at a few block plugins, and there’s a bunch of them! And that made me wonder about my minor obsession with creating a great landing page experience using WordPress. I haven’t talked much about that, but I’ve done quite a lot of (possibly too much) research into it.
In my head I have this vision of creating simple landing pages using WordPress without having the need to buy page builders or additional templates etc. I really think that a simple landing page should be possible using the native WordPress editor (Gutenberg).
So, who would like to see a short blog/vlog series where I put up some landing pages using only free plugins in the WordPress.org plugin repo?
The format would be:
Showcase a type of landing page.
What would the elements be?
What free WP products would we use?
The build process!
A finished landing page demo on this site.
Downloadable block content so you try it on your own site.
A recent, let’s call it a debate for the sake of giving it a name, led to a few heated words on Facebook. Assumptions flew left right and centre, and I’m completely guilty of that, and I’m pretty sure that there are at least 3 people pissed off with each other.
And you know what? I’m ok with that.
The original point of what I put up was to encourage listening in order to practice empathy. That’s something that has been encouraged heavily at my employer in order to understand our customers better. It’s also been a wonderful tool to use when working with others. It’s only recently that I’ve been able to appreciate what it can accomplish if done properly.
Sadly in this case, that point seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Which brings me to the title of this post.
A lot of people have a lot of opinions about guns. (cue divisive thoughts)
And from what I’ve seen recently, it seems to be pretty much out of control on social platforms. A lot of these platforms have furthered the problem of disengagement, because they allow throwaway comments without allowing proper engagement.
In other words; less listening, more trolling.
On the post I put up there was only ONE person who actually addressed the point I tried and ultimately failed to make. And that person actually made an awesome point, they simply asked that
if by listening does it mean that the people you are listening to are experts?
That’s a great point and one worth discussing.
And perhaps that’s something we should all ask ourselves.
Are we so much of an expert on gun control, do we know everything about the left and the right, whose data is the best, and if listening to others matters?
It’s been tough. I’ve found myself open a new tab in my browser and start typing the letters face… and then quickly close the tab. I’ve found the same thing on my phone, I’ve opened the FB app up a few times and realised, hang on, I shouldn’t be in here, and quickly hit the home button 🙂 Instagram has been the worst to leave alone, as well as Twitter. When the hell did I become so addicted to these platforms?
But the bottom line is, as the days go by, it’s becoming easier to ignore, I spend less time on my mobile and on non productive websites, and I’m feeling happier to be honest. I even found some time to go a music shop last week! That almost never happens these days.
Overall, things are looking positive, and I’m anticipating a better week avoiding the social stuff this week.
I’ve been using social media pretty much every day of my life for the past 8 years, and I’ve been growing slowly dissatisfied with how much it has encroached into my life I’ve let it encroach into my life.
I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Youtube, LinkedIn, and who knows what else I’ve forgotten. And then there’s the work stuff which is essential, namely Slack and our internal p2’s. The load of information is just immense if you combine personal and professional.
The problem with information, is that often it’s just noise. Very often, distracting noise. And I don’t like distracting noise, but often I get suckered into spending time there when I should be doing other things, like;
Spending time with my family.
Connecting with my friends.
So, I’m taking the month of August off from my personal social stuff. Don’t expect me to reply to anything on Facebook or Twitter, pretty much the only thing I’ll reply to of my personal stuff is my email, Whatsapp, and taking phone calls. I might read a few things once a week, but the only personal stuff I’ll be doing is blogging here.
I used to wake up in the mornings and be excited to read my Bible. Like an actual paper Bible, not some app on my phone. Now I just spend way too much time on Facebook, and stupid things like that. It was so much more fulfilling before all this.
So anyways, this is my attempt at detoxing from the social media world for a bit 🙂 See you on the other side!
Parting note: I love tech but I can allow it to takeover large chunks of my life at times, so no hating on social media platforms from me 😉
As some of you may know, I work over at Automattic on WooThemes themes within the Themes Team. My primary project is the Canvas Theme. I’m currently in the middle of making it even more awesome, and I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and set it to be this site’s theme of choice.
I previously used The One Pager, and it was great for a while, but I no longer want to generate leads from the site – I’m just going to be blogging for a while 🙂
So sit back, enjoy the posts, and keep an eye out for some cool updates coming to Canvas soon!
Yes, I know, another year in review type post…but for me this year has been profound in a variety of different ways.
Today I finish up my 2015 working year, and return in early Jan, but it’s also the end of the first 6 months since Automattic acquired WooThemes. It’s been quite a time of nostalgia for me, particularly yesterday when some framed photos of each year’s WooTrip arrived at the Cape Town office.
It’s funny how after 6 years so much has changed. I look at that photo of the 6 of us, and even though only 4 are still around, it’s pretty crazy and extremely humbling to see what has been accomplished since then.
When I joined Woo, WooCommerce was merely a thought, no code, just an idea. And we wondered when we would get to it. It’s funny how a single product can change a business and capture the embrace of a community.
It hasn’t been all roses to be honest over the past 2 years for me. There have been times where I’ve been unsure of things and my future, but I’ve sought prayer and wise counsel throughout and I’m grateful for those people in my life.
Probably the biggest change this year for me was the shift away from doing additional freelance work (outside of Woo). I did freelance work mostly for fun and if there were interesting projects, not as a “have to”. But looking back, I probably took on more than I should have, and that sucks.
It’s been well documented by several people that Automattic has a COI policy – and, I don’t think it’s bad, I actually think it’s great. For me, I’m pretty drained at the end of my work day these days, and I don’t want to see a screen! I just want to relax with my family, pickup my guitar, have a swim, see my friends, basically detach from the world of tech.
This has been a massive mindshift.
I used to be “always on” but now I try to focus all my energy during my work day and detach after hours. The funny thing about that, is I’ve found I’m a lot more productive these days. I feel more focused at work, I get more sleep, and I’ve built a more meaningful relationship with my wife and daughter.
All in all, it’s been a tough year (in a good way), but has been a very rewarding year. I honestly feel proud of what I’ve been part of accomplishing at Woo, and now at Automattic, how things have changed for me personally, and the outlook for 2016. It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to connecting again next year, whether it’s online or in person.
So, for now, I’m signing off. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year period.
I’ve always been fascinated by people who simply complain about things that are within their power to change, yet they don’t seem willing to actually make that change.
It’s like complaining about your countries president, and then not turning up to vote.
I’ve seen this often in the WordPress world, recently specifically about XML-RPC, and a few of those complaining haven’t contributing jack squat to core (other than conversations)
Something I don’t like about core is how authentication works with the WP-API. But…I’m actually trying, in my own time, to see if I can figure it out before I go wading into deep waters of emotional conversation on make.wordpress.org – too often people weigh in about features without checking their emotions or before attempting/suggesting a solution.
As a long time plugin and theme developer I appreciate customers who have tried to solve the problem first before complaining at me. I happily apologise when things are broken, but I’ll always go the extra mile for those who have shown initiative!
2 weeks ago I went to our annual Automattic grand meetup in Park City, Utah. It was a great experience, of which I will write about soon 🙂 But one of the cool things I did there was to take a class – an intro to iOS development with Swift.