Publishing on the Web (Milestone 2)

The chapter on HTML really hit me on just how difficult it could be for a user to create a web page without understanding the underlying structure of them and even the importance of a little server side knowledge. It took me a long time to understand how to do relative paths in web pages- hell it still seems odd to me.
In some ways the web as a collaborative medium is a failure- WYSIWYG html editors work to a degree but without a general understanding of what is being coded most users are going to get confused at some point in the game. In all honestly I have never coded a table by hand in my life, and honestly I don’t know that one should have to, but the basic understanding of how to lay out a page, link it up, and put it on a server has made things a lot easier for me.
It’s interesting to see how we have coped with this relatively high entry point, with such things as wikis and of course blogging tools. Wikis seem almost redundant to me in their design, but ultimately they make real the promise of the web by adding truly collaborative writing in addition to hyperlinking and rapid publishing.
Blogging tools on the other hand are the closest I think we may ever be to giving people a simple means of publishing on the web with a low barrier to entry. Even the big free sites may take some getting used to in teaching people the ins and outs of posting images, links etc, but they do make it a lot easier than finding a host, putting up the files and doing the design work. There are tradeoffs of course, mostly in the realm of design and individual creativity, but at the same time sites like blogger allow someone to publish what could be very important data or their most personal thoughts and feelings to the world for all to see, and they even provide a means of interaction for readers that makes their site a truly interactive medium.
My last rant was all about the disconnect between what users understand about computers and what they really are- the same can be said for publishing on the web, but in this case people are slowly making the tools to allow universal publishing better and better. Anyway, my father has been asking me to help him set up his blog, so let’s see if WYSIWYG is enough for Pops Ferdinand.

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