Code is Poetry. Websites are Paintings. (forking the WordPress footer)

Talk Proposal: WordCamp Los Angeles, 2016


Every piece of American money in your pocket, right now, every bill, every coin, has 3 words on it. Do you know what those 3 words are? Do you know what they mean?

Every page of the massive website carries 3 words as its footer. Do you know what those 3 words are? Do you know what they mean?


E Pluribus Unum

is an American mantra. “Out of many, one.” Many people, from many places, one nation. It’s a pretty good mantra for WordPress too, “out of many contributors, one robust, empowering, rights respecting platform.”

Code is Poetry

does anybody actually know what this means? If you Google it, you’ll find as many articles celebrating the insight of this slogan as you’ll find articles critiquing the absurdity of it.

Code is Poetry repository on GitHub showing pull request for Websites are Paintings footer fork

Is code poetry? Let’s discuss this idea.

And let’s also go further. Let’s fork the WordPress footer:

Code is Poetry, Websites are Paintings

You’re invited to contribute to this project on GitHub:


A conference like WCLAX is filled with developers. People doing great work and earning a living with WordPress. This is fantastic. But there are also people who deeply care about blogging. WordPress isn’t only a CMS. What we do in cyberspace isn’t only technology or efficiency. Every day cyberspace is a place of Creativity, Cultural Critique, New Ideas, and New Questions. My WordPress footer fork is a small acknowledgement that websites are not only places to buy Mickey Mouse T-shirts and new Cell Phones, but they can also be Sites of Art.

How many websites do you have?

As a WordCamp attendee, there’s a pretty good chance you manage lots of websites for other people. But how many websites do you have for yourself?

When I tell people I have dozens of websites they’re often surprised and often think that’s ridiculous. No one tells a writer they should only have one book of poems. Or a painter that they should only have one gallery worth of paintings. Nobody tells BeyoncĂ© that she should only have one album.

WordPress is Art

Perhaps we think in terms of one personal website because we think of it as a portfolio site where we show everything we’ve done. That’s great. But using WordPress to make a portfolio is like saying that the art of photography consists in photographing the paintings you’ve made. Photography is a great tool to show your paintings, and WordPress is a great tool to show your paintings, your web designs for clients, and lots of other things. But just as photography can be an art in it’s own right, WordPress and websites can be art in their own right.

Photography can be your art!

The Web can be so much more than just a way to document your art in other media. It is an extraordinary, powerful, subtle, expressive medium in its own right.

WordPress can be your art!

How many WordPress websites do YOU have?

I think you need more!

Screen Cap of WordPress Footer

WordPress revision screen showing my fork of the WordPress footer