“We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness on sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.”– John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, 1159
I used to hate it when people would tell me, “There is no sense in re-inventing the wheel…”. To me that just sounded like an excuse for being lazy or essentially not creative, but then I remembered this quote from John of Salisbury. Truthfully all great innovation has come not from re-inventing the wheel, but making a better wheel.
I like to make better wheels and if we hope to be able to move forward, creatively and technically we have to look back at the past, and see the steps that others took to get where we are. If we make great leaps forward it’s not because we are such great jumpers, but that we were able to jump off from a great height.
That’s why I use WordPress and different Theme builders, and occasionally will adapt someone else’s theme for a project that I am working on.
WordPress makes everything easier from setting up the site to maintaining the site and even designing the site. WordPress is a CMS that is open source and totally free which are 2 big advantages. What’s more WordPress has a very active user community that is continually building and improving the platform. WordPress also has a huge library of thousands of themes and plugins that can literally transform your site from a simple blog to a powerful full featuered site.
I like to write my own themes from scratch (if you are unfamiliar with WordPress think of a Theme as a template), and I often will use one of my old themes to make sure I have a framework to work from. There are also a lot of theme builders out there that you can use to build a nice custom theme quickly. There are some circumstances in which a theme builder may not work for a project, but honestly if I need to get a design done fast I love theme builders.
Customizing Existing Themes
I once had someone accuse me of copyright violation and theft because I created a theme for them based on another theme. There are some theme makers that clearly state that you can not modify their themes, but most all themes clearly state that you can modify the theme in any way you want. Most theme builders understand the concept of Standing On The Giant’t Shoulders and are glad to see their work inspire someone else.
So in pursuit of building a better wheel I am ready to take that leap into the future, but I know that I can only jump that far, because of the boost from people who came before me.