Gutenberg Woes and Wows

The new editor is coming to everyone now and I’m hearing the complaints in other blogs.  In this post, we’ll look at why Gutenberg’s reviews are WOW and it’s ratings are ugh. Gutenberg has been getting poor ratings and I’m pretty sure I know why.  

The reviews of Gutenberg are being written by early adopters.

The RATINGS are being done by middle and late term adopters who are not nearly as comfortable with learning new tech.  Early adopters tend to delight in learning new tech. They often have great intuition with technology (because they adopt new technology on the regular.)   They are often familiar with computer code (in this case, HTML and CSS) — and the changes in Gutenberg are really handy for people who are use custom CSS and HTML.  For everyone else? The mood appears to be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Early, Middle and Late Adopters

In tech development, early adopters are rare birds.  They tend to be tolerant of glitches and problems.  They tend to be patient.  They tend to be technology friendly.  They don’t have the “RFM” problem (“read the freaking manual!”).  They’re willing to struggle in order to get enhanced capabilities, even if it means dragging their way through the technical documentation, the websites and so on. 

Mid-term adopters only adopt the new technology when they either begin to clearly see the advantages of changes–and they want those advantages.  This is why the new mobile phones get such hype and always provide some new “must have” cool thing in order to entice more people to make the change. 

There are advantages to being a mid-term adopter.  I didn’t get the Note 7 phone early — and I was glad I didn’t given the “exploding battery” problem.  I did get an iPhone 5S (or was it 4S?) early, and regretted it very quickly when it’s battery life was awful.   It’s usually a good bet to “wait” — and let other people suffer the pains of glitches and problems, report on them–so that the manufacturer (or code creators) can fix it before it gets in one’s hands. 

 Late term adopters only change technology when the drawbacks of staying with the old technology outweigh the advantages of new technology by a considerable margin. OR their old technology begins to be withdrawn from support (or even from the market).  Late term adopters are usually a bit tech adverse. They struggle with technical changes.  I have a sister with dyslexia and a computer science degree — she struggles when new tech comes along because the RFM problem can be very severe for her.   

The Gutenberg Roll-Out

I was one of the first users of Gutenberg — and as an early adopter, I was primed to have fun with it.  I had worked with Divi and other “frameworks” for blogs, and this editor gave me many advantages of those fancier (and expensive) frameworks.   And it gave me the much wanted Drop-Cap.  

Because I am a coder and I want to create a lot more custom HTML-fueled sites, I know that this architecture (or framework) is going to GET ME MORE STUFF.  For example, I’m interested in creating a re-usable “Recipe Card” block for my food blog.  I can see the possibilities. 

But for folks who just want to WRITE, dammit! there is pain.  The longer you’ve been at this, the more you have “muscle memory” in how you blog.  Middle adopters and late adopters know how the old stuff works and they are comfortable with the “old way.”  It’s hard enough creating good posts.  Re-learning the mechanics of simple things is painful, make no mistake.  Ask anyone with a new cell phone. 

The advantages to Gutenberg are currently difficult for middle and late term adopters to SEE, understand and exploit.

This is why I’m writing all these new blog posts on Gutenberg.  There’s a real need for walk-throughs and instructions for non-early adopters. I can see what’s coming with all these new-fangled capabilities.  And I think the middle and late term adopters will be MUCH happier in the long run.  AFTER the pain of change is in the rear-view mirror.

But whyyyyyyyyyyyy!??!!!

Many bloggers are asking WHY should they go through this pain.  We’re still pretty much at early adoption stage for Gutenberg, but the classic editor is going to go away eventually.  Frankly, the classic editor’s capabilities are not extensible.  There are other editors coming on the market, other frameworks that can create blogs and websites with “advanced cool” —and the classic editor will begin to look more and more dated. 

The blogs created by the classic editor will begin to look more and more dated, too.  Moore’s law teaches us that big changes in micro-processing ability in computers goes at a MUCH faster place than changes in code.   The underlying code of Gutenberg is going to help the creators of WordPress keep up with technical change so that WordPress blogs continue to be the cutting edge of cool–and also the last word in “easy.”

Well, is it a Good Editor or a Bad Editor? 

Gutenberg is an excellent editor, but it is a serious change in the day-to-day way we write.  People who are unhappy tend to complain by using rating a technology low.  Most people don’t rate at all.   I don’t work for WordPress or get any goodies from them. I’m just a regular user with a business account.  I am an early adopter and I’ve been using Gutenberg for about six weeks and I can see the potential.  I think that once people get used to it, they won’t miss the classic editor at all. 

Getting Beyond the Pain 

Most of the gripes I’m seeing about Gutenberg are “general b*tchin’ ” because it’s change.   It’s different.  It’s boring learning new stuff.  But MOSTLY, the problem is that when we sit down to blog, we are in “creating mode.”  We are not in “learning mode.”

I have mentored dozens of graduate students in my day–I’m a well known “agony aunt” for thesis writing and I know that the BEST way to get a WHOPPING case of writer’s block is to try to edit WHILE YOU WRITE.   Writing blogs is fairly similar.  We sit down to write in “creative mode.”  We are not in “learning new technology mode.”   

Our blog posts are better if we write them in “creative mode” and let them sit.  Come back the next day — or at least in a few hours — and THEN edit what we write.  Looking at a text with an “editor’s” eye is quite different from reading a text that just flew off your fingers.  If we start criticizing our own writing WHILE we write, there is the road to writer’s block just waiting for us.

Start learning Gutenberg with an OLD, unpublished post

If you want to get beyond the pain of change to this editor most quickly,  start by writing in classic editor mode.  Even better,  I would advise you to take an old post, one you abandoned,  call it up and convert it from the classic editor to the Gutenberg editor. 
 
Now you’re combining your “editor” stance with learning the new technology.   You have a whole bunch of new kinds of blocks to work with: paragraph, heading, image and list blocks.  You can explore and dink with things.  It’s an old post you haven’t looked at in a while, so you can feel more confident rearranging it and working with it — because this is not something that you’re red-hot to see published right away. 


Separating the learning of the editor — FROM the WRITING PROCESS — can help.

Bonus — you may end up reworking that old, unpublished post into a spiffy new post you can be proud of.  There’s no pressure in working with an old, abandoned post and you may be able to approach it more creatively by combining it with figuring out the new editor.  Both your left and right sides of the brain will be working on different things.  

More Gutenberg Links

More soon.  ~Lola

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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