Two summers ago I was employed by Colorado State University to produce and maintain an online version of a physical summer course Chem 103. This course amounted to the same idea as our own Chemistry of Art and Artifacts – a chemistry course that is intended to be taken by non-science majors.
I had never done coding or programming of any significant type and had only the experience of “messing around” with my own computers and their helpful GUI’s (graphic user interface). Taking on this job was a crash course in one of the easiest but most poignant “languages” today, HTML and its beautician cousin CSS.
By forcing myself to learn this language, both by pay and by self-motivation, I taught myself how conversations and presentations can and do occur through the digital world. Much like this class which is going to force us to learn a tool for web development and use, entering the “backside” of the web allows for greater interaction with its frontside. This interaction is coupled with the understanding of why certain types of code and certain methods of presentation make for a better user experience.
The web is a network of interlinked and conversing computers and users. Learning HTML and CSS is like learning the alphabet. While the regular user can get by just fine without written language, by learning these two languages one allows themselves to start talking in a very different way.