Curiouser and Curiouser...

My Adventures in blogging, digital and Public History

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

W3 Schools Tryit Editor v1.4 - Fun Stuff! Really!

I was thinking about all the things I wanted to learn about HTML. W3 Schools Tryit Editor v1.4 is great for that. It gives you basic code which you can then play around with and edit. After you have what you think will amount to something, you simply click the “Edit text and click me button” to see how you did.

Skimmed fairly simple things and selected a number of tutorials relating to things I wanted to learn or things I thought would be useful for the creation of a website.

Tried caps - no changes to the text. Added a 'b' tag next to the paragraph text.(Also figured out I can't use the <> when I use examples because Blogger reads them as tage too! How to get around this? hmmm...). Anyway when I added the 'b' tage I got the following:


This is a paragraph.

Paragraph elements are defined by the p tag.

Hmm - forgot to close the 'b' tag and everything after it was bolded, not just the line I wanted. Okay, lesson learned.

Here is something handy, the 'br' tag. It breaks the text into lines. Excellent if you need to fit something into a small space or copy down a few lines of poetry. I created this awful little piece while practicing:

The snow
is absent
but it is Christmas.
Who cares?
not the people who have to drive.

Headings - It was fairly easy to figure out that the heading number dictated the size of the heading’s text in relation to the other heading numbers. So, the lower the heading number the larger the text. This would be good for titles and subtitles throughout a large text document. If I wanted a heading further down in the text to be larger, I just had to make the tag correspond with another heading tag which was the appropriate size.

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Some thoughts on posting this stuff -people probably won’t care about my learning curve ( or is it a straight vertical line upward?) But I will give a plug for the W3 Schools Tryit Editor v1.4 because they are so easy to use and you can always refer back if you need them. Plus they are free!

In the beginning...

In terms of learning how to build a website, I knew I was going to have to start at the beginning. Off to school, W3 schools that is, and the web-building primer for the beginner. I have to admit I felt a bit out of my element. I had no clue about any of this. Would it be ‘beginner’ enough for me? Well, it started with a definition of the World Wide Web - I was cool so far. Moved on to a description pf HTML - again, good to go. Even though I wasn’t great at using the mark-up language at least I knew what it was. Big shout out to Bill Turkel and his Digital History class at Western! Hmm, then CSS - I was a little foggy in this area but had some rudimentary understanding. The next definition on the list was JavaScript. I’d heard of it and knew it had to do with programming which completely freaks me out. The description
used terms like “client-side scripting” and document.write(some crazy code). I shuddered and moved on. A little definition on XML which was understandable. Then some more stuff on server-side scripting and Structured Query Language. Quoi??

Okay, definitions out of the way, I wanted to get down to the nuts and bolts of it. I always understand better by ‘doing’ so I was ready for the challenge. My first task was to work through the HTML Primer - very exciting! I dutifully typed the suggested HTML into Notepad and this is what i got:

This is my first homepage. This text is bold

Pretty simple and it was easy to understand using such a limited amount of text.The explanation portion of the tutorial gave me a step by step run-down of what each of the tags did. Beautiful. The tutorial was very easy to understand and I was ready to tackle something a little more challenging!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Museum of Perception

The Museum of Jurassic Technology would probably not be considered a museum in the traditional sense by any number of people. In Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders, Lawrence Weschler describes the museum and its exhibits in all their ‘kooky’ glory. He explains an exhibit featuring Geoffrey Sonnebend’s strange ‘memory’ theory which actually deals with forgetting. Further, Weschler describes another museum inhabitant, the Megaloponera foetens or Cameroonian stink ant which can emit a cry audible to the human ear and who also sprouts a horn out of the top of its head after inhaling a certain fungal spore. Perhaps one of the most unbelievable exhibits is a collection of letters to government officials, detailing ‘actual’alien abductions or invasions.

Untraditional in its approach, should David Wilson’s collection still be considered a museum? I would say that it should. A museum isn’t just a collection of artefacts which are the accepted ‘norm’. In fact, I would argue that any collection which makes the patron think critically about artefacts, ideas and theories has value as a museum. In fact, Weschler seems to have spent a great deal of time trying to validate the authenticity and the accuracy of the Jurassic’s exhibits. He seems to have been confused by the ‘legitimacy’ of the exhibits themselves as well as the aim of the curator. Ultimately, after much research and thought, he has come to the conclusion that the exhibits hold snippets of the ‘truth’ but that the museum itself is much more than a collection of strange artefacts.

I would argue that The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a museum of perception. The exhibits are part of the curator’s perception of reality. Whether the viewer or patron believes this reality is a choice he or she must make. Maybe the patron has a different interpretation. Or maybe the exhibits force the viewer to think critically about the exhibit or even its creation on the first place. And just maybe, this is what Wilson intended. It seems to me that his creative and fantastical approach generates feelings and emotions, and I would imagine, more than a little bit of controversy. In regard to his approach, I would say, isn’t that the point? Why go to an exhibit if you are going to leave without having had some response to what you have seen?

Wechsler’s search for the ‘truth’ also brings up another fundamental question, that being, who is really qualified to be the purveyor of ‘truth’? Again I would say that ruth is a matter of perception and interpretation. Truths have an inherent bias or point of view that is not always shared. There are of course facts that are not generally disputed. However, the interpretation of the facts is often different and therefore, potentially constitutes a different truth for each individual.

As Public Historians it is not really our job to be purveyors of ‘truth’. Rather, I think we collect, interpret and present evidence. Of course, although we may try to avoid it ( or maybe not), our personal biases may be evident. I think the best we can hope for as Public Historians is to engage our audience and have them leave a museum with something more than a t-shirt.