Four months ago I released a piece of JavaScript. It was just a harmless bit of code geared towards a specific problem I had encountered. I tend to enjoy sharing my creations and, yes, that little “egoboo” one gets too.

The day after releasing it I noticed a tweet from an industry “hero” to the tone of “oh not another one”. You see, for the uninitiated, there is a certain worthiness of something derived from how it contributes to the landscape of the industry and the open-source community as a whole, and this worthiness is the only kind we’re supposed to care about.

If you do something to further your own understanding, for example, then you’d better damn-well keep it to yourself, because unless it’s a perfect pearl of engineering the dragons will descend and ensure every spec of self-worth you had riding on your pet project is demolished.

There were other messages of disapproval, one to the tone of “this problem has already been solved”. And: “you should be putting your efforts elsewhere”. It’s as if there is this delusion of a grand directive, as if we’re all aboard starship “free the world” and we’re the sole exercisers of revolution. We must all pull our weight contributing to the directive otherwise we’ll have wasted precious human resources.

I don’t buy that. There is no directive. We’re all running around solving problems that we care about and discovering new things to improve our understanding of the world, and that’s wonderful. We’re not automatons working in unison towards an absolute. And the world would be such a dull place if we were. So please go ahead and:

  • Implement the 12th selector engine
  • Make yet another templating solution
  • Create a CSS3 creature just for fun

There are some that will grow furious at your wasted time. You see, this is all very serious to them. This is serious stuff indeed; really serious in-fact. You’d be forgiven for thinking that fairies and kittens die in anguish whenever a subjectively sub-par piece of code is released into the world. Fortunately though, nothing dies… other than the tad of self-esteem you foolishly placed on a petty side-project. A fool I am for trying.

Not to worry though. There are people here in this “community” who don’t take everything so seriously. If I was one for a sappy directive it’d probably go like this:

  • Make stuff, share it, and then share how you did it.
  • Embrace newbies and their willingness to participate.
  • Don’t take anything too seriously.

So remember: there is no directive. It’s just you and other people trying to figure stuff out. Improve things, feel good about it, but don’t berate others for not subscribing to your particular brand of lofty idealism.

PS: Just to be absolutely clear: I am guilty of taking things too seriously. This post, and any others that seem accusatory and preachy, are almost entirely addressed to a previous version of me.