I’ve been thinking of putting together a web site for my illustration work, and threw together an install of wordpress at a subdirectory of another site. I fired it up and took a look at it and saw the default theme (“twenty ten”), and thought, “I’d like to change that to something I could design, or just something super simple that I could add my own images to.” I thought back to a long time ago when I’d put together a little art site using blosxom (remember blosxom?), and hacked up the very simple theme file to include a image of my own, colors of my own, simple stuff like that. It looked nice, simple but nice.
These days it’s not a little blosxom flavour file, it’s a WordPress theme, and it’s complicated. It’s a bunch of files full of PHP. I’ve tried in the past to hack WordPress themes, and I’ve always given up.
Another thing I’ve given up on is Rails. When Rails first came out, I was already a Ruby fan, so I was interested. I got a book on it and did some tutorials. The code generation (scaffolding) kind of bugged me. If you generate code, then hack it up, and then have to regenerate, you have to re-hack it? That seemed like bad abstraction to me. But then, scaffolding was supposed to be a temporary measure anyway. In any case, it made it inconvenient and weird. It was like you had to know before you started exactly how everything was going to go. They changed the code generation in later versions, so now you could let it generate scaffolding on-the-fly, and they had this new abstraction around setting up your databases, called “migrations.” “Later” versions are still pretty early, because I haven’t been in touch with Rails in a long time. Every time I look at it I look at the instructions for deploying it on Dreamhost and eventually give up, because I don’t want to think about it.
Of course I’d thought of trying Rails for the illustration site first, read some stuff about it on Dreamhost’s site, and given up, realizing I didn’t have the attention span for it. It’s come a long way without me and I just don’t have the spare time and willpower to catch up with it.
That’s the way with a lot of technologies I’ve been interested in at one point. I had a book on Cocoa programming for the Mac; read through it and understood most of it, not all of it… but even if I went back and learned it again, they’ve advanced it way beyond what it was when I read that book. There’s all kinds of new technologies involving things like automatic memory management and a thing called “Core Data” and other stuff. I could learn all that if it was my job, but not for my own sake.
That’s it, you know? The web used to be constructed out of materials that were simple enough that you could pick them up in your spare time. Not anymore. And it’s not just the web — lots of technologies have moved beyond a level where I can make them my own anymore.
Might as well just stick to services that do all the work for me, and I just add some content. Why do I even keep my own copy of wordpress here on goesping.org? Is there any reason in the world I should be doing this instead of just hosting it at wordpress.com? Answer: No.
I miss it though! I miss having a clue. I miss having some idea how to make pages that are actually my own and look OK. But you know, losing touch was a gradual process, starting when CSS and “DHTML” hit the shelves. I was never actually good at web design and programming. But I used to be able to fake it, and that fell away and now is long gone.