Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Too much source code, too little validation

I entertain the fantasy of making more frequent posts, but the longer I live the more distractions arise.

Students I've never met write with queries such as, "I hope you could answer a basic question for me on what it takes to be a journalist." My first impulse is to suggest that it requires the ability to do basic research before conducting interviews. But that's not very helpful.

There are many widely available references on journalism careers, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Journalism job postings are widely available via the Internet, including the Job File listings maintained by the Society of Professional Journalists' Chicago chapter.

A colleague asked what books could teach her Web design. I learned HTML eight or 10 years ago in the age of stone knives and bearskins. The O'Reilly series is now better than the books I used then. (BTW, over Thanksgiving my more mechanically minded brothers were poring over copies of Make, O'Reilly's hacker take on the digest-size Popular Mechanics of the 1960s. I enjoyed "The World's Biggest MP3 Player."

Most Web folks learn not from books but from other Web sites, such as Webmonkey. I found the basics in a Web tutorial by journalism prof Mindy McAdams, who shares my background as newspaper factotum.

Setting up a home page (with resume!) is a good Web design exercise, but a blog really does not require a lot of coding skill unless you want to trick out the standard-issue templates. However, one motivation to starting this blog was just to stare at the source code, which is how I learned a good deal of HTML.

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