Inspirations: Noah Grey

photo by Noah Gray

photo by Noah Gray

It was January 2001, several years before on a whim I had started a journal on my site, just to let some of the noise out of my head.  I was a freshman in college and by this point it had been brought to my attention that many of my friends used my journal as a way of keeping up with me.  So I decided to keep it around, though it was getting really annoying to write my entries in HTML and upload each one via FTP.  There was one lousy perl diary script that I was not a fan of because entries still needed to be individually uploaded.  Though through my searches on yahoo I found something revolutionary and new, a little program called Greymatter1.

Unlike Blogger which required use of an outside service, Greymatter1 could be entirely run and maintained on the same sever as the website.  Entries could be written entirely online, with no uploading and no mark-up necessary.  Templates were easy enough to customize, and even though entries and archives were saved to their own files a little shtml and css wizardry made it possible to easily redesign.  I thought Greymatter1 was the coolest thing ever, I read everything I could on it, and I stumbled upon the website of its creator Noah Grey2.

In an interview about Greymatter3 Noah was asked to describe himself:

Hoo boy…  😉  I don’t think I can give any decent answer to that in a paragraph or two.  I’m just a quiet, restless loner-type who’s kinda frightened of the whole damn world … nothing special.  I spend almost all my time in my room (I’m a manic-depressive agoraphobic), curling up with a good book or movie, or better yet just with Thomas (my teddy bear) for a few hours, trying in some quiet stumbling way to get back to a place inside myself where everything is alright again. 

There’s far more than anyone would ever care to know or learn about me on my old homepage4, though. Whatever it says there that “gets it right”, that reduces it into words as best I’ll ever be able to do, still applies.

When I went to that “old homepage” I was surprised.  It was not the typical garishly designed blog full of geekery and talk about code that ones comes to expect from programmers.  It was a personal journal with links to his photography, and other creative pursuits.  I was quickly drawn into the pure humanity of everything Noah put on his site.

I would describe Noah as humble, and an amazing artist who shares what he sees, thinks, and feels with no filter.  I, and probably many others went to his homepage, and kept coming back for years.  His photography is absolutely breathtaking.  Every image stirs some sort of emotion, and captures a unique essence of the subject.  I’ve looked at many of his photos and wondered that those colors actually existed, the contrast, the texture, the facial expressions, the movement that is captured.  His photography also covered such a scope of emotion and subject matter.  From bright colors, to dark greens, to nightlife, to footprints on the beach.

His journals were raw, and always read effortlessly.  To read an entry by Noah was to know that piece of him thoroughly.  A sentence inside the first paragraph you were in his world seeing what he saw, feeling what he felt.  From harrowing depression and seclusion, loving and being loved deeply, to the soundless grief of losing that love.  I got to soar with him for a moment when he started his life with Barry, and my heart ached when Barry died.  I’ve had 10 years of Noah and have watched his life ebb and flow.

Noah Grey2 over the years has continued to inspire me to let it out.  To let it out just as it is.  It always says more that way, It is always more beautiful.

Noah Disappeared for a while, and recently I happily discovered that he is back online and posting again.

I should also add, Noah was one of my many inspirations to code.  9 months after my first install of Greymatter1 I wrote my first PHP/MySql backend.  Greymatter gave me new freedom and hope in being a complete control freak, and maintaining a dynamic webpage.  In the summer of 2002 I rewrote it entirely and the resulting code “Dogma” is still what powers my page outside of the blog, which is powered by WordPress, which was also inspired by Noah Grey5.

I don’t know who inspires me more: Noah the programmer, Noah the artist, or Noah the person.

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  1. Jaclyn

    October 25, 2011

    AHHH I used to love greymatter, haha I used it back in my grade school days! Thanks for changing my link girl, can’t wait to here from you!

  2. david

    November 8, 2012

    Very cool. I, too, began using GreyMatter shortly after discovering Blogger – hard to believe it’s been so many years ago! But learning how to use GreyMatter gave me the boost I needed to turn blogging into something more than just a passing novelty. I communicated with Noah a few times back then – turns out we literally lived within a few miles of each other at the time!

    Very grateful to Noah for his contribution to the online world.

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