Friday, January 28

yesterday's class

I find learning about usability studies somewhat dull. While the whole idea of usability is pretty cool, studying it in such technical nitpicky depth seems a bit... overkill or something. I'm not quite sure why I have come to such a conclusion, because I know usability is very important, and perhaps even the central value behind everything anyone ever produces, but for some reason it bores me a little. Kind of weird.

But, after all that lovely usability stuff was over, we played some more with dreamweaver. I'm a bit torn about how much I like it. People have told me it isn't the best html editor around. I have a good friend (randomlink & other randomlink) who hand codes everything and makes the most amazing looking sites. She says it's easy. Our professor says it's easy. Nevertheless I remain pretty much just as terrified as I was. I am unsure I could ever learn and remember all those complicated tags... But maybe I could. I want to try... I'm a little afraid but I want to try. I want to be good at it too. Very good at it. I envy all the people out there who already are.

Thursday, January 27


Our first major assignment, the proposal memo for our web portfolios, is due today. Mine has come together fairly well considering I have very little idea what I'm actually doing.

How dangerous is it to admit that kind of thing, I wonder? What if success for the most part hinges on concealing the fact that you've had to make everything up as you go along? Sometimes I suspect that this must be the case. Nobody can be so knowledgeable, so confident and assured that they never have to make things up as they go along. In fact, making things up as one goes along must be a sign of genius, or at least of great wisdom, clarity of thought, and creativity. I wonder if I'll ever really feel like I can do that and not have to be afraid of making mistakes all the time.

Tuesday, January 25


It's a bit weird, but I've never before thought of a document as a thing to be designed. But really, all kinds of documents we use in today's society need the attention of a designer to make them look professional and aesthetically pleasing. Why such things are so important is somewhat obvious and yet not. I suppose as humans we value elements of design and beauty even in the most benign and meaningless parts of our lives.

I am excited to start learning how to build web pages for our portfolios. At first I was nervous and slightly worried that I wouldn't be good at it, but even if I'm not that good at first, it will still be fun to play around and figure things out as I go. The chapters we were to read for this week will be more interesting and meaningful, I'm sure, once I actually attempt to apply the things they talked about. Actually designing the pages and seeing them on the screen will be so exciting. I can hardly wait.

But first comes all the planning and organizing of information... this is the part I'm less excited about. Mostly I'm the kind of person who jumps feet first into projects like this, telling herself she'll figure it out as she goes and it'll work well enough the first time. Planning is for sissies, a rebellious little voice in my head whispers. I realize, however, that this is not the case here. Designing a web site is no easily managed project. Though they seem relatively simple and straightforward when you see them in their millions all over the Internet, web pages are actually pretty complicated creatures, and the collections of them which make up complete websites even more so. There are so many details involved that you absolutely have to sort out in advance if your website is going to work properly.

Planning what exactly I want to include in my web portfolio is one of the more difficult decisions I have to make. There is a lot of writing I have that may not fit into the overall purpose or tone of the site. While I may feel like including all of it, doing so would probably take a great deal of work. I will have to decide which pieces will work best together in my portfolio, and then from there decide how I want to present them. I so far have many many ideas and as usual am having a hard time not procrastinating making a final decision between them all.

Thinking about my audience is another rather difficult thing for me. I'd rather not have to consider how other people will interpret my portfolio, but I do know it is important to think about if one does not wish to be misunderstood or dismissed for being unclear or uninteresting.

Friday, January 21

yesterday's class

we signed up for group projects yesterday. two other girls and I, and possibly one other guy if he doesn't drop the class (or decide not to add it, whichever) will be presenting Beginning Dreamweaver.

the prospect frightened us all just a little bit at the beginning, when we were forced to admit that we've never used this software before. half of us didn't even realize what exactly it was, much less how it works. but we spent the last half hour of class playing around with it. i find it's easy enough, at least to do simple things. it's amazing the things you can learn just by trying them. i'm excited to find out more and build what little skill i have.

Wednesday, January 19

528 words on my introduction to web design and web portfolios

I have just read five chapters (some of them rather long) on the planning and preparation that goes into designing websites and web portfolios. My thoughts as I try and recall just precisely what the details of those five chapters included are, I admit, vague. But the concept of a web portfolio does especially interest me, since I am at heart nothing very much more than an insufferable show-off. The chance to organize and present a portfolio of my work in this new medium is one I am quite glad to have, and I hope I prove capable of doing it well and in a style which suits my personality and taste. I realize such a task will take a lot of work, planning, and decision making. It is the endless decision making which worries me most, I must admit, not only in reference to this class and its objectives but to the world of professional/technical writing as a whole. Decision making has never been easy for me. Diligence and some presence of mind will be required in order for me to learn the best process for using all this technology to present my work or to accomplish whatever necessary tasks I will encounter in the future.

I find myself very curious about the details of web design we will learn in this class as well as about exactly where the things I will learn will take me. It will be hard work, not only because of the new and complicated technology involved but also because of the amount of thought and planning that will have to go into putting these projects together. I will have to decide how best to present myself through a compilation of my writing, which will involve endless consideration of audience and purpose. Unlike school projects I have put together in the past, this one will likely have a large significance on my future career. This is the point where I must ask myself, am I really ready for this? Am I really good enough? Do I have the strength and the skills I need to make a place for myself out there in the world? Can I really use what seems like such a meager talent to make any sort of difference to anyone? Cheesy, cliché questions, I suppose, but they insist upon being asked. I need to know who I am if I am to present myself honestly to the world. And it would certainly help if I knew what I was doing as well. Of course neither of those insights is easily come by, nor are they quite the kind of accomplishments you can check off your to-do list at the end of the day.

My familiarity with the web, I've come to see, has been something I previously overestimated. While I feel confident using it, there are many aspects I don't fully understand and, luckily for me, this semester seems to be the perfect time to learn them. Knowledge is power, as they say, and becoming more technically literate will certainly be an advantage to me in finding my place in the world of professional writing.

Thursday, January 13

the very first post

well isn't this exciting?