Make it Your Way
Making it “wrong” (if there is such a thing) is much more important than not making it at all.
Designing and making things (physical and digital) is something I’ve loved to do for as long as I can remember. The web made it easy for me to pursue that passion in ways never imaginable with physical things — a medium that changed my entire perspective about what I could achieve on my own as an entrepreneur. Traditional approaches to learning never worked for me, but with the web, everything is open and I quickly found I excelled at figuring out how existing things worked to the point where I could make my own things which eventually led to a living.
As a kid, I loved taking things apart to see what made them tick — something my parents weren’t fond of depending on the subject. I remember stripping our new VCR to the bones to figure out what happened when the VHS tape disappeared behind that little spring-loaded door. My Dad came home to a floor full of bits, and after a few choice words, I remember him taking the time to explain how it all worked as we re-assembled the mess of parts. This was a refreshing experience compared to typical learning sessions with my Dad. He was an engineer, extremely precise and book-smart, so he struggled when it came to helping me learn the only way he knew how.
I’m using that same method today for everything I make for the web. I’m extremely proficient at the basics (HTML, CSS, etc.), but when it comes to actually making something work, I’m winging it for the most part. I’ll find examples, look at source code and decipher how the pieces come together, then customize or make something new using that information. I’m constantly building on that foundation as new methods for development become standard, but if you asked me to develop a working concept from scratch with no reference, I’d have a hard time getting past the design and initial front-end development.
I’ve always admired developers and their seemingly limitless knowledge about the craft they’ve grown to love and their ability to engineer solutions with absolute detail and forethought of the problems being solved. But, as much as I’ve admired developers over the years, I never had the desire to be a better developer in the traditional sense. That said, I’m not going to let code get in the way of designing and proving the concepts and ideas I have which is what I love to do. I’m making these things with hopes that others see the value in the design and concept (not the code), with hopes that by demonstrating how something could look/work, I’m inspiring new ideas and approaches to solving problems in simple and elegant ways.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to have a continuous understanding of the environment you’re living/working within, but it’s equally important to have a continuous understanding of what you love to do and how you’re going to provide the most value to a community as well as yourself. Making things my way has lead to so much more than forcing myself learn and make things the “right” way. In other words, making it “wrong” (if there is such a thing) is much more important than not making it at all.