Zoe is a front-end web developer based in Philadelphia, PA. She's an erstwhile educator, artist and designer, all of which is insanely helpful for running her small web development shop.
She calls on all of her former and current experiences in her blogging and as an instructor for Girl Develop It Philly and TechGirlz. When not fingers-deep in code, Zoe spends a lot of time building Lego structures with her two little boys and tweeting @zoe_rooney.
On Sharing and Needing “Credit”
There’s a lot of advice out there for web developers along the lines of “share what you learn.” It’s good advice — writing about a concept helps iron out all the wrinkles in your understanding. Sharing your writing publicly opens up the potential for discussion, and for helping out someone else who’s trying to learn the same thing at some other point in time. Let’s be honest, it also opens up the potential for recognition.
That recognition part can be tricky, though, because it’s tied up in this idea of getting “credit” for the things you put out there. Especially with front-end development, where there’s a rolling, ever-changing landscape of Stack Overflow and blogs and documentation and MIT licenses, I think ownership of many ideas is a nebulous concept at best.
The thing is, in my experience writing what I’ve learned or what I think about some topic makes me feel like I own that topic, even when logically I know I don’t. I’ve had this feeling, seeing somebody else I follow publish some writing on a similar topic to a recent post of mine, that it was “mine” and that I should be getting the “credit.”
I don’t think, upon reflection, I even know what that “credit” is supposed to be.
Perhaps, since this feeling is especially pervasive when it’s someone with a larger reach, it’s back-patting, that whole recognition thing popping up again.
When I find myself questioning whether I want to post a tutorial about a technique I use, wondering if I’m giving too much away to potential competitors, or when I find myself muttering under my breath about someone else writing about the same topic I just wrote about, it doesn’t feel good. It feels selfish and fearful. It feels like a little bit of impostor syndrome creeping up, sometimes.
What feels good is sharing so that I can iron out those wrinkles, and so that I can look back on my good ideas and my questionable ones in the future. It feels good publishing posts that help me talk about what I’ve learned with others doing this work. It feels even better to share so that other women, especially women of color, can see someone who looks like them doing this work, and so that they feel more comfortable sharing themselves.
Reminding myself of the things that feel good about sharing helps me hit “publish” on those tutorials. It helps me remember that there’s a wider conversation we can all have, together, and maybe there’s sometimes some recognition in that but if there’s not, that’s okay too.