Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wonderful Wizard of HTML

I may not be technologically savvy, but I'm not completely in the dark either.  I had heard of HTML prior to my Digital History course.  For example, I was familiar with the Compose/HTML buttons in the corner of my blog post pages.  Occasionally, when something wasn't formatting the way I wanted it to, I would switch over to HTML and try to discover the culprit.  (Sometimes this strategy worked, sometimes it lead me to start over from scratch!)

For the most part, I thought of HTML as being like the Wizard of Oz.  The face that the world sees is striking, with fantastic formatting and special effects.  But behind the curtain, it was unimpressive, odd, and a bit confusing.  I preferred to keep that curtain shut, as long as the proper buttons were being pushed and levers were being pulled, the pyrotechnics kept working as they should.

This week Toto, in the form of my Digital History professor, forced me to pull back that curtain and try my hand at the levers and buttons.  With the aid of, I was taken step by step through basic HTML.  The principles are pretty simple.  You have to spell out exactly what you want the text to do, and then you have to tell it to stop at the end.  It can be tricky to catch on at first - forget a " here or a /> there, and nothing happens - which is extremely frustrating!  Once you get it though, it becomes a bit addictive.  I was driven to learn how to do all kinds of little things that add nuances to your web page.

Much like my colleague Dave noticed, I was impressed with how writing in HTML tapped into my creative side.  I often separate technology and creativity, but this showed me how interrelated they could be.  I also have to admit that once I started to catch on, I got really excited.  I didn't quite have the "genius" moment that Lindsay did, but that's probably because I'd just passed the point of frustration!  Once I had caught on, it became hard to stop.  I can see now how so many people end up adding too much to their web page, its kind of fun to show off what you can do.  (This is evident from my tweet!)

With the curtain pulled back on HTML, does it still seem like the Wizard of Oz to me?  Sure, I learned that with just a few essential tools, I had the ability to do it on my own all along...

No comments:

Post a Comment