You could say that I am a bit of a fanboy of the late 1990s and early 2000s web. I loved the funkiness of GeoCities. I enjoyed the random midi file that began playing when a new web page opened. I am nostalgic about an early web that felt like an explosion of weird creativity that was driven by the passion of the people who were using this newfangled toy and were not quite sure what to do with it. Visiting a web page was like diving into a shameless, bottomless pit of geekdom.
When I see a new block editor plugin pushed out by Nick Hamze, I perk up. It is sure to be something interesting.
Hamze is the mind behind Sorta Brilliant, a website that is dedicated to sharing unique blocks mostly for the fun of it. In a web development world that is seemingly pushing another business or eCommerce tool every day, it is easy to sit back with blinders on. Yawn. Hamze is asking, where has all the creativity gone? He is putting his ideas and cash behind the development of features that harken to those early, fun days of the web. His projects will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is filling in a particular void that has been widening for years. And he’s doing it in style.
“I have at least 10 new block ideas a day,” said Hamze. “They just pop in there, and I have them made as fast as I can.”
Part of the problem is finding enough developers to help push out these projects at the pace that he can draw them up. Hamze is the creative force behind the projects, but he is not a programmer.
Discoverability of these plugins can be also an issue. They are not exactly the types of plugins that are in fashion at the moment and can fly under the radar. “I waffle back and forth between wanting to make stuff to make WordPress fun and get lots of installs,” he said. “Every time I ask someone how to get more installs, they tell me to make more boring stuff, but I don’t want to do that.” Hamze is speaking about the ecosystem’s drive toward more minimalist and business-oriented trends.
Hamze said many of his plugin ideas come from building his Zune fansite, Hello From Seattle. It is a passion project for a long-dead MP3 player, but it fuels his brand of creativity.
“I see zero passion, especially in the WordPress space,” Hamze said. “It seems like everyone is just going through the motions lately. I’m trying my best but I don’t see anyone else who wants to bring back the old days. Fun doesn’t seem like something WordPress is supposed to be used for. It makes me kind of sad. WordPress is supposed to be used for large corporations and business; it shouldn’t be used for silly things like I’m doing.“
He has at least one fan. Hello. I am just here to bring the rest of you along for the revival of the weird and wacky web experienced during the golden age of website creation.
One such throwback plugin is his Peculiar Pointers block. It is a container that allows users to upload an image to use
This article was written by Justin Tadlock and originally published on WordPress Tavern.