Alex King passed away last night after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind a wife, a daughter and many, many friends in the WordPress community. You can read the community’s thoughts and reaction on Twitter.
I never met Alex, but I read his code and used his plugins. Because of him, I did things with my site I previously couldn’t have done and became a better developer along the way. I suspect a lot of people in the WordPress feel that way today.
About a month ago, I started chipping away at a simple idea: launching a weekly newsletter about accessibility. I put it live quietly over the weekend. If you’re interested in getting to know and keeping up with the accessibility world, you should sign up.
Just visit a11yweekly.com and fill in your email. I’ll send out the first issue next week. I also have the code available on Github, if that’s your thing.
I imagine the site and newsletter will evolve quite a bit over time, but more on that in future blog posts. If you have suggestions, send me a note via my contact form, Twitter, or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Foster, a creative director and industrial designer, recently gave a talk at dConstruct called The Future Mundane. You should watch it. He talks about a design approach where you need to think about designing for others besides your ideal user, designing for how your “thing” interacts with other things, and designing for how it might work when broken or misused. It’s great advice for the ever-expanding Web and all the devices that can access it.
Me making what my wife calls “Dave-face” while working on a project at a meetup.
Members of Theam Team, enjoying shaved ice in Hawaii.
Daniel Robert in I in a giant coffee cup in Hawaii. Is that not what you do in Hawaii?
Since I was 13, I wanted to be a writer. I became one, spending part of my career writing for newspapers, magazines, corporations and nonprofits. But then I found the Web and everything changed.
One year ago today I joined a company called Automattic, with its mission to making the Web a better place. We make WordPress.com, and contribute to WordPress, the software that helps power it and enables millions to publish with the same world-class software as big-name publishers like the New York Times, Wired and more. That’s a pretty cool gig for a former professional writer.
At Automattic, I work on the Theme Team, trying to make themes on WordPress.com the best they can be. I love themes. I best expressed that in my application to Automattic:
I want to be a Theme Wrangler because I believe that a good WordPress theme can open up a new world to those using it, and in turn, reveal something unique about the site’s owner to the world. A theme can become the centerpiece to someone’s story. That’s something I want to do for as many people as possible.
During the last year, when not focusing on creating and reviewing themes for WordPress.com, I’ve worked supporting our premium theme partners. I’ve had the most fun with that because of the sheer variety of tasks it demands. From triaging tickets to fixing bugs, reviewing code to launching themes, plus collaborating with premium themers to thinking about the big picture. It never gets old, and I’m excited about the future of premium themes on WordPress.com.
But really, the great things about being at Automattic aren’t just building software used by millions or traveling to neat places to work with your colleagues. It’s the mission and the people behind it. Every day you work beside folks who not only care about making the Web a better place, but you too. Everyone is empowered to make a difference. To write their own story in a way. Again, not a bad place to be for a writer-type like me. I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.
We become obsessed with tools and methods, very rarely looking at how these relate to the fundamental basics of web standards, accessibility and progressive enhancement. We obsess about a right way to do things as if there was one right way rather than looking at the goal; how things fit into the broader philosophy of what we do on the web and how what we write contributes to us being better at what we do.
Cole Henley in the The Slow Web, talking about the rhythm of the Web, and how and why we do what we do here.
It’s a great read, and one that has me thinking more deeply about what I do each day.
During this past Labor Day weekend, we visited Staunton, Virginia and drove Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to get away from the normal grind. We only stopped at a half dozen overlooks, but The Blue Ridge Mountains continue to be one of my favorite places in the world.
Dave Shea, creator of CSS Zen Garden, gave a talk called A Brief History of Web Design that takes you through the time and space that is the first few decades of the web design.
When I watched this talk, it made me excited for the future, and wishful that I had found the Web sooner. Even thought I wasn’t one of the early bloggers, or even in web design in the early 2000s, I want that intense, personal exploration and sharing back.