Alice Wright: Webmistress and Coder Girl

Alice Wright: Webmistress and Coder Girl

by Andrew Piccone

Tell me about your job.

As a web developer, I create and maintain databases. A database is where you put data, that’s the idiot’s version of it. Basically what I do is make the internet talk to a place where information of all types is stored. Databases can store sales leads, information for sites like Tumblr, they’re used for everything. It’s a good skill to have. I originally was a web designer and eventually I learned how to code. As the internet became more complex and more and more data was looking to be stored I started getting into that so I could progress with the internet and in my career. Eventually I learned more languages as people wanted more and the transition was really easy. The fundamentals were there: a programmer’s brain works differently than normal people’s.

Do you like your job?

I love it. I love that I can take that knowledge anywhere and help people set things up and really make the internet do what they want it to do. It’s hard to describe. I like that if somebody says, “I want a website to do this,” I can do it. And nobody knows I’m the back end girl and nobody sees me in my little room. Another thing I love about my job is that I’m not “Ms. Social.” I’m very awkward. The anonymity of it is appealing. I don’t actually like being that person who shows off what they do, I like just doing it! And letting other people enjoy it!

You also operate a blog?

I do, it’s called Get Off My Internets. Basically I document what internet celebrities are doing. An internet celebrity is somebody that’s known to people who spend a lot of time on the internet and read a lot of blogs. But if you went up to Joe, your accountant, he wouldn’t know who they were. It’s like Nicole Kidman vs. Julia Allison, not a lot of people are going to know who she is. Internet celebrities are people who take things a little too seriously. For example, the guys who run Tumblr; I’m a coder, I like coding, that’s it. They want to be famous for being coders and starting their website. They throw a lot of parties for themselves, and I just think that’s so pretentious. I mean they have publicists! You don’t need an agent, that’s what blogs are for. I miss the sub-culture days, when you were just famous on the internet. Now a lot of these people are getting in magazines and stuff, it’s crossing over. I think the internet celebrity culture is going to get worse because people are only taking themselves more seriously as the medium grows. There’s this two-year internet fame cycle where people get really popular or famous really fast and then get knocked over for the next new thing. That’s the internet. It’s constantly changing.

If New York is number 1, what city is number 2?

Um, I’m going to have to say Chicago, I really like Chicago. The weather sucks, yeah, but it’s got a lot of the cultural stuff that New York has, and it also has a lot of people who are really tough in their own way. Maybe you can blame the weather for that. So the people are tough and cool like they are here, but the social scene is a bit more low-key than it is in New York. It’s sort of like New York, without all the posing crap. I’m from Dallas originally, but I love New York. I had lived here two times before for work and now I’m never leaving again. Every time I leave the city I immediately begin plotting how to return as soon as possible. There are so many job opportunities here for what I do, so many cool people here. Every time you leave your house you meet someone cool!

What part of the city do you live in?

I live in Fort Greene. I love it. It’s just seems to be more of a melting pot, it’s not over-gentrified, but it’s not over-crimed. It’s a nice racial blend, the ethnic diversity is amazing. You get all kinds of people living together and enjoying each others differences and not stabbing each other like you do in some parts of New York. There’s the park right there, Fort Greene park, with the cool tower. I love it.

Have you ever been arrested?

Oh boy. I was arrested in high school. It’s more of an embarrassing story and not, like, anything bad. My friends and I decided we wanted to play Ouija board and we went to this abandoned house at the edge of town and sat on the floor and did it. We didn’t know that the caretaker lived across the highway and saw our flashlights and saw what we were doing. The police came and did that scare arrest and took us to the police station where our parents picked us up. We had to write four page essays about why what we did was wrong. They took it off my record after I wrote the essay, which I still have. It went something like: “What I did was wrong because I got arrested for it.” I’m not much different now than I was then.

Andrew Piccone is a photographer in New York.