Full-Stack Web Design

Post I made internally at Automattic the other day:

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of doing creative-type work (this includes developers and basically everyone at Automattic) is that we basically never stop. Working, that is.

I’ve found that even when cruising mentally at a solid “I’m-at-the-mall-with-my-parents-and-my-kids” kind of socially-focused interaction, I’m still at a very low level scanning signs for Comic Sans and shitty kerning. I’ll still notice every Ferrari on the road while also engrossed in a This American Life podcast or I’ll get mad when I see Microsoft advertising on a bus. I can’t help these things; they define who I am as a human being*.

At any rate, at previous jobs where the revenue model was ostensibly to bill clients for every hour we spent working (and in the more despicable cases, many we didn’t), as a creative professional I found it difficult to quantify my work in that way. Who got billed for that hour I spent talking with one of my best friends about Node.js? How many hours have we all spent thinking about jQuery in the shower?**

Lots of people work in office conditions where websites with personalized, social content dashboards like Tumblr, Twitter or Pinterest are blocked for being productivity-killers, but here at Automattic, I use our own WordPress.com Reader every day to catch up on what’s going on around our company as well as the world. This is a profound difference that’s hard to communicate to outsiders.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve felt comfortable at Automattic spending time thinking about how I do my work and what my work habits mean about who I am as a person, and I’ve started to see trends that started early on in my career that are culminating in a neat way with how we get our work done here.

It’s with keeping this in mind that I present to you a goal I’ve slowly realized over the past few months that I’ve been subconsciously striving toward since very early on in my career and only recently have had the pieces fit together in a way that I can articulate to other people how I get my work done:

I discovered I have been developing an often-messy and laborious but enjoyable and endlessly-evolving process of designing and coding web interface functionality directly in the browser, utilizing whatever technologies are appropriate. For Polldaddy, I have the extraordinary benefit of having the solid foundation laid by @eoigal, @allnoodles, @polldaddy and @donncha at my disposal. Over the years, I’ve slogged through ActionScript 1 & 2, fought with Flex and MXML, cobbled together random bits of DHTML (ha! remember that one?), learned and then threw out Script.aculo.us, slowly gotten competent at CSS, HTML, jQuery, CakePHP, Ruby on Rails, and have tried and failed at innumerable more.

Since joining Automattic as the Polldaddy UI designer and having participated in as many Happiness Bars and WordCamps as I’ve had the benefit of being able to attend, I can breathlessly expound upon how incredibly inspired I’ve been by what WordPress is capable of in general, and what the API can provide me in particular w/r/t my neurotic process.

Now is especially exciting, we have so many robust tools built specifically to aid people like myself (classically-trained graphic designers who have been bastardizing code for their entire careers): LESS/SASS, Twitter Bootstrap, Child Themes, jQuery, jQTouch… the list goes on forever.

To not-so-gracefully arrive at my point: am I off the rails here (pun so incredibly intended), or does this sound familiar to anyone else? Would a discussion/presentation at A8CSD be interesting to anyone?

* Especially the anger that rises at those Microsoft Stores or any kind of lacrosse merchandise. It’s a long story filled with sighs

** Be honest… you’re only lying to yourself.

huerca zafada: When I say I’m pro-life…:

And yeah, I’ve seen the babies, little hand-sized things barely clinging to life. There’s no glory, no wonder there. There is no wonder in a pregnant woman with five dollars to her name, so deep in depression you wonder if she’ll be alive in a week. Therapy costs money. Medicine costs money. Food, clothes, electricity cost money. Government assistance is a pittance; poverty drives women and girls into situations where they are forced to rely on people who abuse them to survive. (I’ve been up in more hospitals than I can count.)

In each and every dark pit of desperation, I have never seen a pro-lifer. I ain’t never seen them babysitting, scrubbing floors, bringing over goods, handing mom $50 bucks a month or driving her to the pediatrician. I ain’t never seen them sitting up for hours with an autistic child who screams and rages so his mother can get some sleep while she rests up from working 14-hour days. I don’t see them fixing leaks in rundown houses or playing with a kid while the police prepare to interview her about her sexual abuse.

Of course not. Their BMWs need waxing.

They’re not paying for the funerals of babies and children who died after birth, when they truly do become independent organisms. And the crazy thing is they think they’ve already done their job, because the child was born!

I love a good party. I am in this to make party. But I think we might be getting a bit confused about what it means to launch a product or start a company, and what it means to be on a reality game show.

I am still excited, and I still marvel at what a weird thing we have all built together. I worry about how all of this money seems to corrupt it, turning a festival originally about independent creators into a branded hellscape of VIP-only, RSVP-only partypocalypse.

Ben Brown on what’s wrong with SxSW (via jimray)

This this this this this this. #sxsworst




(via jacob)

I watched this happen live and nearly shitted myself.