Jul
05
2010

The Making of a Computer Nerd

This is a new website, though I am far from new to the web.  I was raised by hippies who were fearful of computers.  My freshman year of high school I was writing term papers on a brother word processor, and was lucky if I got to use the computer with Netscape at the library.  My father was issued a work laptop, though he never brought it home, until he had emergency surgery for appendicitis.  His company asked him to do some work over the internet from home, appalled that he wasn’t 100% what they were talking about his company bought him an AOL subscription.

My world changed overnight, when my dad came home from work I’d get right on his computer, and not get off of it until the wee hours of the morning.  That fall I had an accident with his laptop, a carpet and a glass of ginger ale and my family finally gave in and got a desktop.  In the early months of 1998 I made my first webpage.  It was some geocities nonsense, and I was using their editor.  One of my chat buddies at the time told me that was retarded, and to learn html instead.  So I did.

It was like discovering my own heaven.  I loved learning new ways to put things on the screen.  I learned how to use frames, javascript, and tables.  I learned to create seamless landscapes of information.  I got a copy of paint shop pro and learned to make my own graphics, and began my crazy art of photo editing.  I found more people like me and started volleying to get accounts on other servers.  Having your own website was the cool way to be an introverted girl in those days.

Cascading stylesheets and increased support of javascript allowed web designers to control every aspect of how a page looked and felt.  By 2001 I was making pages where the entire window looked like a photograph.  All the menu and pages elements were nestled into the graphic design, including the scrollbars.  CSS also allowed all definitions for page elements to exist in one file which saved a lot of time when rolling out new page layouts.  Think of how often a teenage girl changes her clothes, imagine how often she redesigns her webpage.

Around this time I had made a good number of male geeky friends.  They were all into programming, and thought my web design was cute girl stuff.  Around Thanksgiving  of 2001 I was completely fed up with their remarks.  Over the course of the thanksgiving break I turned my dorm computer into a server, learned PHP, MySql and wrote an entire back-end for my website.  It was extremely cool to have my server in my room, though I was constantly worried that the network would go down while I was away.

Working a website with a database back-end was revolutionary.  All my content was no longer made up of separate files, instead there was one file that would key up the content requested from the database.  Redesign was a simple as putting the new layout in the main file, and updating the stylesheet.

However, soon after the web ceased to be a new frontier.  HTML and CSS have been fairly stable since 2003 when Mozilla came online.  Mozilla offered CSS support that was a close match to Internet Explorer.  However, Mozilla did not implement all aspects of CSS and as a result a lot of script and design elements became obsolete.  Blog formats were becoming more popular, and social networks were on the rise.  A knowledge of web design was no longer required to have an internet presence.

While discovery of new technology was a lot of what drew me to web development in the first place, the internet is still a pretty cool place.  Even though things seem to be leveling out, and the internet is becoming more apart of our daily lives there is still something to be said for being able to make something the whole world can see from a text editor.

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