Being responsible for content is, well, a responsibility

As a developer, I rarely have the opportunity to create things that end-users realize exist. Now, that isn’t to say that what I create isn’t potentially useful; hopefully it is just that. Otherwise, what is the point in my doing it?

But when I work on something like, faceted (or guided) search, for example, I write the backend code that retrieves data from the database or the search engine. I together the markup that makes things appear on the page. I write the javascript that makes things happen when the user clicks or selects elements. But I don’t put the data into the database. I let somebody else do that. Nothing that I do is actually tangible to an end user.

error-objectexpectedI am like a spy; as Al Pacino puts it in The Recruit, “Our failures are known. Our successes are not.” If a site/utility/application is designed well, users usually do not realize that the code exists. Their intuition guides them through the experience, and they don’t have to think about what is going on “behind the scenes.” Once something goes awry, however, it often becomes painfully obvious that something is wrong with the code. If the message on the right looks at all familiar, then you have experienced that to which I am referring.

Until now, this has always been the case. Being that day to day I work with eCommerce websites and the pushing around of data tangential to that sphere (to and from Amazon, e.g.), I just set up “content regions” where “content” will go once a merchandising team has decided what “content” corresponds to Widget A as opposed to Widget B.

However, this whole blogging experience has put me squarely on the opposite side of the coin. I chose WordPress as a CMS because it would be quick to set up (and throw away, more importantly, should it not suit my needs,) it is open source (oh, how I love to hack,) and it is generally well-received by the internet. This left me with something I don’t usually have, when it comes to technology: time. I was left with time to write my own content. This isn’t to say that I have a mountain of time at my disposal (my wife and I do have a two-month-old for which to care.)

It is an odd experience, I must say, to have the proverbial eyes on me1; I can usually hide in the background of the scene, making sure that I have dotted every semicolon and crossed every… well, nothing really gets crossed, but you get the point. Content is the lifeblood of the internet (which is why, incidentally, Google bothers indexing content and facebook allows pretty much whatever anyone wants to post to appear on their site.)

Now, I just need to find something worthwhile to say…


1The eyes to which I refer are the single pair of eyes of the person who will actually read this far :-)

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