The importance of tinkering

Justin Tadlock was the first person I really connected with in the WordPress community — sometime back around 2008, if I recall correctly. I stumbled upon Theme Hybrid as someone looking to make a website, and I was off to the races, discovering everything that WordPress offers.

I also loved that the person I stumbled upon was from Alabama and even went to the same university I was attending at the time. The web, while so big, can feel so small.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time in Justin’s community and quietly under his tutelage as I read his blog posts, forum advice, and broader commentary about web publishing, development, and the WordPress community. Justin, without perhaps realizing to what extent, was quite the WordPress mentor to me.

He has just published a blog post about tinkering to build his own CMS for his personal blog rather than use WordPress. It’s a thing many developers do — some early in their careers and some later. I really appreciated this part of what he said:

I like tinkering with things and breaking them. To be constantly working on, breaking, and fixing my personal blog is fun for me.

With WordPress, things just sort of work β€” that’s a good thing seeing as how it runs over 30% of the Web.

Ever since I made the switch to WordPress in 2005, each year, I’ve had fewer and fewer things to tinker with here. I miss that excitement a bit. WordPress is a mature and stable project. I long for the thrill of the bleeding edge.

I want to continue learning, and one of the best ways for me to do that is to experiment with new things.

I think it’s important to maintain our passion and tinkering is a great way to do so. While I personally have no desire to make my own CMS, I appreciated the various reasons he gave for this particular project.

When we tinker and work on things that are perhaps adjacent to our career but not directly related, I think it can really help inspire us to do our best work in our careers. Not to mention, by getting outside the ecosystem we are always in, it helps us see the things we regularly do in a new light.

I’d encourage you to do some tinkering too.

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