Whenever I learn something new, I go through three phases.
In the first phase, I don’t really know anything at all, so I just basically try to understand what is going on. Hopefully, I’m picking up the terminology and the basics and so on. During this phase, I don’t really DO anything other than keep learning more.
In the second phase, I start to get a handle on the topic. This stage starts when you can recognize the legitimate debates within the topic versus the standard (um…what is the polite/professional way to say “pissing contests”…I’ll get back to you…) smack talk that goes around. It is somewhere during this phase that I actually start to do things.
In the third phase, I have a good grasp on the subject matter. I understand pros and cons for issues, I have technical mastery, and can do pretty much whatever I need to do within the topic, although I might still require a reference every now and then. As I read others about subjects within the topic, I can tell who is a chucklehead and who actually knows what they are talking about.
The fourth phase starts when I almost never read anything new. Sure, news is news, but if I can no longer pick up tips and tricks from books or magazines or websites, or what have you, then that is Phase Four. At this stage, all you really need to do is keep up on things and expand your knowledge base into new corners of the topic if necessary.
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I’m somewhere in Phase 3 when it comes to WordPress. I can make WordPress sit up and dance if I need to and I can build a website in minutes if necessary. I don’t build my own themes (can’t see the added value when customizing is so easy, and getting easier) but otherwise, I would consider myself to be a fairly solid WordPress user even though I don’t delve into the programming aspects of it. (I do my own HTML and CSS, but that isn’t actually about WordPress, but rather websites in general.)
Another interesting part of Phase 3 is that there is a period during which you have developed enough competency to recognize both incompetence and greater competence than your own.
My best example of this is Solari in the movie Amadeus where the Emperor is incompetent when it comes to understanding and appreciating music and thus considers Solari the greatest of all time, and Soalari is completely competent (if less talented) in music and can thus tell without a doubt that Mozart is a truly great musician.
I bring this up after noticing that all of my blogs have the Canonical URL’s plugin by Joost de Valk at Yoast.com. As I was upgrading all of my plug-ins I re-read the description of the plug-in. I know what Canonical URLs are and I know why it matters when it comes to SEO and Google. But, I don’t really know what exactly Joost’s plugin does.
So why is it installed? Because Joost says I need it and I know that I’m Solairi and he is Mozart…at least for today… 🙂
By the by, if you are serious about WordPress, I highly recommend Joost’s site. You can use it to keep you from running down the wrong path and his WordPress SEO Guide is about the best darn step-by-step from the beginning instruction you will find anywhere on the Internet. As an added bonus, most of what he recommends are also flat out best practices even if without taking SEO into account.
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