The first time I came across the internet was back in 1995 when an uncle showed how he sent to email to connect with his sons who were studying in the US. In those days, the PC was not a common place in India. Internet was via dial up and expensive. About 5 years later, I started on a Geocities like many others. I created a website, and tried to write content. But the free account allowed creating only 5 pages – later it was 5 MB I think. I used to enjoy writing some thoughts, like a diary of things I was learning or trying to understand.
Somewhere down the line I forgot all about Geocities and writing for that matter.
It then started with a boring job. I was working in tech support but my job essentially had be in a cubicle for 9-10 hours. Frustration with the kind of work I was doing and total lack of any real enjoyment from my work led me to start writing down short stories and ideas. The charachters in my short stories (while many of these remain unpublished and even incomplete) lived brilliant lives, interesting lives. It was basically an escape for me from my mundane life.
I first used MS Word to just write down things for myself. I then saw someone mention blogspot. I chose blogspot to write articles once or twice a month, that ranged from movies to books to popular cultural references. I called it Bombay Pirate.
So the journey into writing content online started.
Enter WordPress but not really…
By early 2009, the tumult of the global economic crises did not escape anyone. Jobs were hard to come by and many companies hired on a temporary basis. I ended up realising that such pressures meant companies valued people and their time even less. At such a time a low paying yet highly interesting job offer came along.
I got the offer to write for a living for a tech blog. The blog itself was part of rtCamp – a WordPress development company.
Although I was the lone non-developer in my company, I loved doing what I was doing. I was surrounded by people who were developing things for people exactly like me (the end user on WordPress)
I moved my personal blog to WordPress and started encouraging anyone I met to explore WordPress. But truth be told, I was not enamoured much by WordPress. I was more in love with writing for a living. I thought of WordPress as just a tool, a means to an end. But things were soon to change.
WordPress was my passport to Open-Source
I have lived all my life in India. In India open-source is very important. Not just as software for technical and cost reasons but also as a philosophy. I was a fan of open-source without being a developer or a coder. I have always regarded open-source as a socio-political philosophy more than just being about software. I wanted to engage with the open-source community. But there was a glitch in engaging with open-source enthusiasts. Despite being a computer graduate, I was not really into programming. I was not a coder!
Writers are hardly ever taken seriously. I mean I doubt a blogger who does not know how to use the console would be taken seriously in the world of Linux.
WordPress was different. Bloggers were its biggest advocates. It biggest fans. Afterall it was made for bloggers. It opened new worlds for me when I started attending WordPress meetups in Mumbai. I even got involved in organising a couple of WordCamp in Mumbai.
WordPress is like a passport – to start a conversation with a fantastic programmer, a brilliant designer or even entrepreneurs who run businesses on the web. I do not blog professionally anymore but my personal blog is still on WordPress. I still create content and most of it is over WordPress and often for WordPress products.
Getting involved in my local community got me thinking about the global community for WordPress. What does it do? How does it function? How is it still work in progress and why it should always remain work in progress. I ended up talking to some awesome people who contributed to WordPress and now a days, I spend some time volunteering for https://make.wordpress.org/community/
As Sean Davis said in his essay “If you’re intrigued by WordPress, jump in. The WordPress community will catch you”
It was remarkably easy to just get involved with the WordPress community. To do a little bit something for the software I use everyday.
I do not think of WordPress as just a means to an end anymore. I actively promote WordPress to anyone and their uncle, the one from the beginning of this essay included.