Growing as a Blogger
When I started blogging, it was basically an ego trip. I thought that I must have something valuable to share. This was a serious mistake but like most mistakes, there was a lesson to learn if I was open to seeing it. I had potential as a blogger because of a basic understanding of grammar and syntax, life experiences which provided context for commentary and a brain. What I lacked was an understanding about human nature, serious communication skills and a genuine love of my fellow men. And I didn’t really appreciate what a great obstacle that was.
I don’t quite understand why I stuck with blogging, given my serious deficiencies but perhaps it has to do with my need for mastery and my ego. I have always believed that there is unlimited potential to learn and master skills. I felt that I could do it.
So Sunday found me at Wordcamp San Francisco hoping to increase my mastery of blogging and my understanding of the possibilities provided on the WordPress platform. What I find remarkable about WordPress is that it allows me to go beyond my limits. Without achieving the technical mastery of programming HTML or CSS, I can make complicated things happen on my blog. I can embed videos and music. I can post pictures. I can make layout changes. What WordPress can’t do for me is give me skill and judgment in how to use these capabilities for powerful communication. I love the features. But more and more I discover that I am using them poorly.
Technical mastery does not equate to making connections
I can grow more with my technical blogging skills and I appreciate learning new features and possibilities from WordPress but I was really wanting to learn more about how successful bloggers think and how they create magic on their blogs. The presentations that I most enjoyed were bloggers sharing their whys and not their hows. From my perspective Wordcamp didn’t provide enough of that. In fairness, I don’t think that that is what WordPress or Wordcamp is about. WordPress is a powerful platform not a training program for bloggers.
So what is WordPress?
WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg revealed that WordPress isn’t about blogging. It is about freeing information. Bloggers are merely an artifact of that process. Which perhaps explains my reaction to Wordcamp. Wordcamp supports the WordPress mission. Bloggers are are not a part of this mission. They are more like moss that grows on a building when the conditions are right- interesting but irrelevant. Or maybe like the pet collie you like to have around when you get home from a hard day at the office to lick your hand. He makes you feel good but doesn’t make you better at your job.
I didn’t relate to the Sunday program
I think this is why I struggled with the format of Wordcamp. The blogger focused sessions were snacks, not nourishing meals. Most were presented by staff and not real bloggers and focused on new features and how to use them not on using the platform to connect emotionally with readers. It wasn’t what I was seeking but in review I think that this makes perfect sense for WordPress. My expectations were unreasonable. Still I learned from the experience. I have a better appreciation for the power and limitations of WordPress for bloggers. It won’t make my blog better even if it can load it up with technical fireworks.
Will I attend another?
Whether Wordcamp San Francisco makes sense for bloggers is another question. My initial response is that I wasn’t their target and that blogging is not really essential to their mission so I shouldn’t attend unless I am interested in seriously getting into the code. Still, I now have a much greater appreciation for the process and resources that make my blog production so easy. My simple worldview of blogging has become more complex. Technical prowess and skillful blogging are completely separate skills. It is unreasonable to expect to learn both from the same source. Without attending Wordcamp I still wouldn’t have learned that lesson. So, I value the experience. There was useful information and an opportunity to participate in the WordPress community. Now I have better information to evaluate next year’s Wordcamp and what I can learn there. Will I attend? It’s too early to say.