About: Elaine Nelson

Elaine Nelson was directionless with an English degree in the late 90s and then: GODDAMN INTERNET. In her current gig, she wrangles content and content management systems, but her last job was Webmaster, so she's dabbled in all sorts of web work. She's an editor at The Interconnected, previously published in The Pastry Box, and once had a poem published in an anthology of GenX writing, when that was the big new thing.

Posts by Elaine Nelson:

2 projects, 2 elections, 2 soundtracks

Since I got my first music cassettes and my first walkman, I’ve become obsessed with specific albums and just listened to them over and over. Music became entangled with specific people, places, and events. Raking leaves in mom’s side yard: Born in the USA. Riding the bus to school: Fascination Street. Walking through north Tacoma: Hunky Dory. Working out at the college gym: Achtung Baby.

As an adult, soundtracks followed me into my working life. Twice now, my work soundtracks have set themselves along with turning points…

Tones On Tail, Summer/Fall 2000

I’m fired up on A List Apart & Webmonkey articles, and learning enough CSS to think, yeah I could totally redo this site to go with the redesign that my boss wants to go with the “rebranding” we’re doing.

Meanwhile, I rip the CD I just got onto my computer; my sweetie has been introducing me to lots of different New Wave/post-punk that I missed because he’s four years older than me. It’s fierce and poppy and jangly, and I love it.

Time to fire up Winamp and blare Tones on Tail over and over while trying to figure out how to do an unholy hybrid table/CSS layout. Oh, and my first stabs at ASP to run a searchable database web thingy.

Not too long after the project is live, while I’m cleaning up odds and ends, fill out my “permanent absentee” ballot, waffling madly between Gore and Nader, and drop it off in the mailbox downstairs. Six weeks later, I’ll be at a new job with new web problems…and the election still won’t be over.

The President’s 2016 Summer Playlist (Daytime), Fall/Winter 2016

We finally get the go-ahead to go forward with the CMS migration I’ve been picking at for over a year. Time to put on the headphones, then.

All the content types. All the views. A theme that looks exactly like our current site, so hopefully no one on the outside will even notice. Editor roles, author experience options. Settings. And then the complicated stuff.

And then this delightful energetic mixtape from Obama. Almost perfect for just dropping into the flow. So I’m singing aloud to Jidenna and Aretha Franklin while yelling at code.

Summer moves into fall, an election approaches, and “we’re going to spend election week finishing up this thing.” But it takes longer than that, because it always does. And an election I was sure about curdles into something else, and music that was about fun becomes a source of defiance.

It looks like Spotify copied that list over into an “Obama White House” account, but I made my own copy, because now everything is off-kilter and uncertain.

Any Given Wednesday

Yesterday I spent almost three hours building a feature (capital-F Feature for the Drupal folx). Headphones on, not my hope + defiance playlist, but a Baroque music channel. Arranging all the little fiddly things, creating new repository branches, cross-checking settings. I spent a good long time on the same sort of work today. It’s very solitary and immersive. I tend to lose track of time (and food) entirely.

Last week I ran a content strategy meeting, which I haven’t really done in months. It’s not the same sort of lost-time-flow work, but it was some of my favorite clients trying to figure out how to update their content after some internal changes. They were really engaged, and sometimes it was just a matter of listening intently while they worked out their own things.

That same day, Justin and I had a working meeting to figure out what we need to do differently in our process, now that The Big Project is live in the wild. We had a lot of hand-waving, half-sentences, writing on the big whiteboard. I think we came up with some good ideas…some of which is what I was working on yesterday.

This morning, our tiny team met to talk through upcoming usability testing. Together we looked at some notes from the client, cross-checked them against the goals for the piece, reviewed the scenario and tasks. I edited a few bits on the fly, just cleaning up wording, rearranging sections, finding a little better way to say the thing that needs to be said.

It’s been almost five years since I gave up being a generalist, a web manager, a webmaster. But I still haven’t given up being a jack-of-all-trades in my heart, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Winter, or: Sean Bean is my patronus, part 1

“For some reason, the parts I play, like Boromir or Ned Stark, have a life online long afterwards. I keep seeing, what do you call them – memes? […] They’ll probably be my unintended legacy.” — Sean Bean


I recently completed the biggest project of my career. As you might expect from something that significant, it had a number of wacky delays. Especially at the onset, these were from issues outside of my control.

So I often found myself talking about what cool things we’d be able to do after “The Drupaling”, without being able to say when that would even be.

Last spring one of my colleagues confided to me that she started thinking about it like “Winter is coming” in Game of Thrones. (“I don’t know anything about Game of Thrones, either,” she admitted.)

Not quite the Boy Who Cried Wolf, but somewhere in that neighborhood. Something important is going to happen. Eventually. And nobody has any idea what it means for them.

Her confession could have been demoralizing — and there was certainly enough to be depressed and frustrated about in the process. But at the same time, I felt strong in my conviction: the change was absolutely coming, and it was absolutely going to change everything. So instead I owned it.

So when we launched, this is what I sent her: