About three months ago, a friend of mine mentioned some guy named Jeffrey Zeldman to me. Said he had a book that I should really read because it was great. Apparently this Zeldman guy had insightful things to say about web design and the use of standards like XHTML and CSS. About a month ago I picked up the book.
Two weeks later, I almost changed careers.
I kid you not, this guy made me want to be a web designer more than anything else in my life. Steph was shocked how serious I was when she read an email I sent late one night to my parents. The reasons I didn’t go running for the digital hills were only that I love my current job and I realized that I’m simply not good enough at web design (yet) to make any money at it in the public sector. I think it’s something I will probably do avocationally (like this site) for quite some time until I become good enough at it that I could do it professionally, assuming that day comes.
Zeldman’s book took the tiny shreds of knowledge I had about HTML and CSS and expanded them mightily in such a way that after reading every chapter I was aching to go make a website and try the techniques he had shown me. The aching part might have come from the fact that I was exercising while reading the book, but that’s beside the point. If you author web pages, even if you use Dreamweaver or GoLive, you owe it to yourself and your viewers/users to read this book. Your sites will be slim and powerful. They will work well on every platform. You will feel sexy. Go pick it up.
I am incredibly excited about web design and where it may lead me and the rest of the world in the future. One of the things I love about web design stems logically from the fact that the Internet is awesome. As you’ve read in earlier entries of mine, I love the Internet. It amazes me what happens when minds collect in centralized locations. Some people call it "hive mind" (thanks Jeff!), and sometimes that’s appropriate. Here’s a blog entry about that topic.
But I’m not just talking about the novelty of having people vote on things to see how close we can come to a common "truth" using the power of all our combined minds. I’m saying that the Internet has become and will always be an extremely powerful method of communication from the masses to the masses, or more precisely, from the average man to almost anyone on the entire planet. That’s powerful.
Only in the last ten years of human history has the average person been able to speak his mind in such a way that it was instantly and freely accessible to everyone else without doing a lot of work. I pay $60 a year for this site. I learned a bit about HTML awhile back (it only takes a couple weeks to become fairly decent at it) and that’s about all it takes. Anybody can do this. It’s even easier with free tools like Movable Type, which is what I use to manage this blog. It’s brain-dead simple once you get the hang of it, and it’s becoming simpler every day.
This trend is absolutely unstoppable and it’s only going to get better from here. Think about how many times in history things would have been different and better if certain people had a voice. But they didn’t because they couldn’t. Those days are over everywhere the personal computer is available. And that is because of the medium of the Internet. I’m excited about web design because I can learn to wield that medium with power and skill. That’s amazing. It’s like learning to write all over again in some kind of magical book that can express more than I would be able to on regular paper. That continually amazes and excites me.
It’s a great time to be alive, and it’s an even greater time to be a geek.