WordPress. Fucking WordPress.
I have nothing against the platform as a product, I have something against my concession to it as my publishing platform following a decade of using my own customized blogging engine Battle Blog.
A part of me is dying as I type this into a WordPress text editor.
I toiled with Battle Blog for ten years turning it into a comfortable and capable publishing system for myself. I built features into it that polished systems like WordPress could stand to incorporate (my elastic content feature being my favorite).
It was available a long time for anyone to use but over time public integration evaporated. I’ll detail all this in a Battle Blog history page that I incorporate here. It will be one of many important blog posts and content items I’ll be migrating from their original homes.
As to why I feel forced to make this switch it is simply that the web has grown past the ability of my home brewed system to present well. Content didn’t project correctly over mobile devices and while it didn’t completely look like crap there was still too much friction and incongruity.
The final straw was an inability to quickly resolve getting font text as it appeared in individual blog entries to look the same as the blog’s content on its static pages, on mobile devices.
And beside that, there was the endless debate over whether to throw up a mobile version of the site at all, and if I didn’t, whether to at least force visitors to a mobile version of each entry. My final decision to let the site exist completely as-is with no particular mobile adjustment, so long as everything was visually congruent, resulted in the last straw moment described above.
So now I have a freshly installed WordPress with a theme I consider minimalist enough that I think I can build a unique presentation off of over time.
Granted I’m like 10 years late. So late in fact that not only has every other blogger had enough time to move to WordPress themselves, they’ve moved off it because they’ve stopped blogging. What I mean is, there are no longer personal blogs with people driven by a need to express themselves online in a single place they design and manage on their own. Social media sites have filled that need completely.
Sure there are plenty of blogs left with their producers looking to monetize content or to otherwise build a brand. You can’t Google “how to blog” without being hit with a wall of results that assume you’re looking to make money or build an audience. Typical dominant capitalism — if you can’t attach money to something then why even consider it. The profit-fueled search engine can’t think about the motivations of the world any other way.
But there are a few people left still fascinated by simply presenting a personal perspective for the sole joy and importance of the act itself. When someone winds up in the news today researchers don’t look for a blog or a home page anymore, they look for that person’s social media stream. If there is a blog, great! But we all understand today that blogging takes exceptional energy and exceptional risk. And in fact, it is now considered somewhat egotistical and narcissistic if you aren’t turning out that mighty dollar to validate it.
I don’t think my concession to WordPress is a complete breach of my independence mantra. Battle Blog was a publishing engine and so is WordPress. The fact that I developed Battle Blog was an extra dimension to my independence, to be sure, but independent web publishing is not defined by the tool. It’s defined by the distance between your prose and presentation and your ownership and control over it. Zero distance is the holy grail I strive for while most people are content with a “Facebook” or “YouTube” distance.
I have a lot to learn here. True, I have a leg up over most people in setting up a WordPress site because I am comfortable with working with applications, hosting, and database issues in general. It took me all of 15 minutes to get the basic engine up and running. People pay others hundreds if not thousands for the same work.
The actual challenge will be learning how to control the presentation and making nuanced adjustments against WordPress or my chosen theme’s will. While using my own blogging engine I “breathed” my changes because of my deep familiarity with the code and how things worked. Now I have to spend a week figuring out how to place a flippin’ masthead that looks and behaves exactly how I want. Seriously?
My only comfort is the realization that when you get right down to it nothing I did in Battle Blog was actually “easy” either. It took that decade I mentioned to get that close to it and to make it a part of myself. With enough patience and application of all the skill I acquired, I’ll have WordPress mastered in a fraction of the time.