My first blog was a pain in the backside. It was hand coded XHTML 1.0 Strict that passed happily through the W3C validator. Being hand-coded, the maintenance side was a living nightmare. I’d only recently begun to code HTML and CSS so the combination of learning curves and rigorously testing (and re-testing) all hard links rapidly became torture. This was in mid-2003. The URL was Pigwork.info.
The subject of my interest at the time was the all-important fight for web standards best practices – progressive enhancement, graceful degradation, table-less layouts, separation of content from presentation from behaviour. Heady times.
This time-frame is how I got involved with developing in WordPress right from the beginning. I tossed a coin, took a little advice, developed back-end coding skills and re-launched on Pigwork.info with dynamic content to hammer away at the issues. Design. Web design. Programming. Accessibility and usability. And like a good little web standardista of the day there were only good words for best practices and vocal criticism where those ideals weren’t met.
I’d call that phase one of industry discussion. However, one of the principles of Future Medium once told me there were people in their offices who would be so livid at the mention of my name that they’d shake. Which is funny because I only very occasionally pointed to the exceptions and their work on the whole was well regarded. And I had many-an-argument at University with professional web designers insisting that table layouts would persist as industry practice well into the future. That future is here… and no self-respecting web firm would hire somebody with table layouts in their professional portfolio anymore. That’s crap methodology 101. All the things we nagged industry about have become the new norms.
Yes, heady times. Over the next few years on Pigwork.info the good battle was fought; the World moved towards those web design methodologies and the stream of dramas with commenters, spammers, hackers and trolls ran unabated. Trolls asserted that I was breaking the Internet by serving XHTML 1.0 documents with a text/html mime type. I’d wake to angry emails from strangers who screamed in capital letters there would NEVER be a broad adoption of mobile web technologies – the screens were just too small. And there was always a certain degree of web standardista in-fighting that was too abusive to be entirely healthy.
Heady times. Hacked by a Russian who replaced my site with a daring red hammer and sickle animation backed by patriotic marching music and statements of Victory. Hacked again by a wanna-be script kiddie with white-hat ambitions when I failed to update my WordPress installation. Ongoing wrestling with hackers in a point-for-point because I maintained hand coded comment forms (and I learned a lot about robust coding from that never-ending battle). Waking to 1200 comment spams. These were the days before all the answers were easily found on Google searches.
When shit broke – we ploughed the field with self-experiment and work-arounds for different browsers. Heady times, indeed.
But it got too much for me as the unique visitor stats rose and rose through to early 2007. Especially the hatred that I provoked. Regardless that all these ideas are fundamental industry best practice today. Anyway, I pulled the pin. Dropped the domain name. For six months I just disappeared from blogging.
Then on 4 July, 2007 the lights came back on. Right here on this domain name. Six years ago today. If you look back through the 808 existing articles in the archive (about 30-40 more have been removed as they lost relevance) you’ll notice a heavy initial focus on web design and development. Then an interest in photography and particularly film.
But no, I don’t allow comments anymore. It’s too time consuming. Too easy for trolls to hit and run leaving me to write for hours trying to explain to an invisible mind-thief that I was right. And the decision has never been a mistake for me. Nearly everybody who emails me is polite and respectful. While readers can also approach me on Twitter for almost synchronous conversation if I’m online.
As readership rises there is a non-linear increasing amount of work to manage, prune and respond to errant comment behaviour. I’ve been called unethical (as though there is an ethical right to comment) and told I’m not two-way communicative. So be it. This is a blog about my opinion and about certain facts.
Over the last ten years I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. One of those is that anybody who disagrees can publish their own blog post and link to mine to prove their point. Win-win. If they really care, they’ll say it somewhere. So comments remain off. I only regret that they initially existed.
And through this last ten years I’ve been heavily supported by Brett Drinkwater at Tas Web Hosting Services. Even when sometimes he’s been under-appreciated, disagreed with some of my views and been put in positions where he’s had hackers beating at the door with ambitions of retribution on my sorry blogger arse.
That’s been a total of ten long years heady blogging with an average of two-to-four (often technical) articles every week. I’ve earned a swag of qualifications and worked a little for The Man over that time.
So I guess today is really just another day in lederhosen (and out of them) at nortypig’s house. Salut.