Where It All Began

Two people met, and here I am!

Ok, that’s a bit glib. Let’s focus in on my WordPress adventure so far… but even THAT has to start far earlier.

It’s 1995. I’m 9 years old, growing up in a suburb of Ottawa, chilling at my neighbour’s place over legos when a crisp new sound sings from the TV.

It’s the North American theme song for Sailor Moon, the newest addition to YTV’s programming. It’s starting in September! “A Dragonball Z for girls” was the common trope… Little did they know the true magic of the Sailor Senshi. I was hooked, in quite a number of ways. Now y’all know how I speak Japanese.

But where were fans supposed to gather in the 90s online? Usenet boards were not very noob friendly. Facebook etc didn’t exist. Neither did CSS. It was a simpler time, one in which I had to actually walk uphill to buy bootleg VHS copies of anime ($12 for 3 episodes!) from the not-very-local corner store.

The internet was free, though. So was Geocities. So with my mom’s permission and support, I set up my first web home in Enchanted Forest, and rapidly got to work building my fansite. I remember eagerly telling friends at school what I had done the night before, to quizzical looks of bewildered noncomprehension.

That property evolved over years, as good homes do. It became a proto blog, a proto youtube, a zine amalgamation. Go dig it up if you can! Skills planted and nurtured here blossomed throughout my childhood and teenage years – HTML naturally, but also visual design, written communication, connection, the power of 1s and 0s, the power of words. Publications were minted. The press was always hot.

But my friends were not as into all this computer shit as I was! They often trust me to be the person between the screen and them, despite my attempts to show that it’s just click clack linkbacks, just 1s and 0s we persuade to dance.

Fast forwarding through quite a lot (selling websites before WordPress existed, and before I could get a credit card myself, life, etc), we arrive in 2006, at Carleton University’s AP 236 lab, when during a lull in a technical class, my client asked me how they could edit their site without needing to buy Macromedia Dreamweaver and learning all my skills developed painstakingly over my life.

After thinking and musing on this, I googled. And I found WordPress.

From 2006 through 2011, I was what I would call a solo unnetworked designer / developer (implementer was not a term used before the plugin ecosystem was more mature). I was using WordPress to build, reading docs and forum posts for solutions, but never thought I had anything of value to give back.

It wasn’t until 2012 when my paths crossed with the local WordPress community here in Ottawa that I realized, “WordPress is made of PEOPLE!” And it wasn’t until 2016 that I watched Soylent Green, and got yet another hearty laugh out of life.

In that fast forward of my life earlier, we skipped the whole bluegrass-musician-touring-north-america chapter. Suffice to say, WordCamps and Music Festivals share much more in common than you’d think on first glance. Within a day I had found my home.

Within a few months, I spoke at WordCamp Montreal. Hopefully someone will chime in with the video link in the comments! That was the same place and time that Automattic had a grand meetup: so Matt gave a talk, and I mustered confidence to ask him a question, the answer of which changed the course of my existence for eternity. While I know there was a camera recording, I have yet to find that video, and there’s a prize for anyone who can!

Y’all can see what happened after then in the echoes of the internet, our WP.org profile pages and WordPress.tv archives, the blog posts and tweets, the photo galleries both shared and kept private.

Maybe it’s the stickers we produced along the way?

There needs to be a Part 2 to this post actually documenting my WP voyage, but this is how we got to the Start of my Word.

#WP20 #FromBlogsToBlocks #BuiltWithGutes #AndExistentialThreats


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