WordPress is a Typewriter

A “Type-In” is an event during which people get together with their typewriters at a library or coffee shop. They talk typing, show interested people how typewriters work and let them try typing for themselves. I read a story about a Type-In at which there was a young boy watching over his mother’s shoulder. As soon as his mother began typing, the boy exclaimed, “The letters go right onto the paper!”

Today, this site (baty.net) is a static website managed via Hugo and deployed to a Digital Ocean VPS. I prefer statically-rendered sites. They’re simple to host, fast, secure, and portable. I like having all of my content safely stored on my computer as Markdown files. Everything is version-controlled in a git repository so I can review any change ever made to the content or layout. It’s the way I think sites should be managed.

The problem I have with publishing a static site is that creating and editing content is too far removed from the actual rendered page. This may not be an issue for people who carefully consider their writing before rendering and deploying. If content is slowly cooked and properly served, then using a static rendering option is great.

I fly pretty fast and loose with my writing. I publish things I’m interested in and am eager to share. I’m impatient. If I had to write three drafts of every post before putting it out there I’d never publish anything. This is why I like using WordPress.

Using WordPress makes me feel like that boy at the Type-In. I feel like the words are going right onto the paper. Sure, the metaphor is a little thin, but the point is that when writing with WordPress (or any CMS, really), the distance between what I’m typing and what I’m publishing is very short. The only thing closer is editing HTML directly on a live page, but that’s something only crazy people do.

On the other hand, publishing a static site is like sending a document to a printer. I have to make sure everything is connected, that there’s paper in the machine, and then wait for the job to finish before seeing the output. If something needs editing, and something always needs editing, the whole process starts over.

So I struggle with choosing publishing tools. I much prefer the idea of statically rendered websites, but in practice I’d rather use WordPress.

I’ll be right back. Gotta check the printer.