Week 1: Understanding the Web
Reading & Review
One goal of Domain of One’s Own is to help participants develop a deeper understanding of how the Web actually works. We’ve chosen a set of readings/videos/resources for you to review prior to your first cohort meeting that, we hope, will give you a better understanding of the the history and underpinnings of the Web.
- As We May Think, Vannevar Bush (1945)
- Small Pieces, Loosely Joined: Preface, David Weinberger (2002)
- Seven Ways to Think about the Web, Jon Udell (2011) (feel free to skim this one)
You'll notice that the readings and resources for this week cover a fairly large swath of time. Bush's article from 1945 predates the Internet by almost six decades. It's still worth reviewing and reflecting upon, however, in that it brilliantly foreshadowed the systems that ultimately became the Internet and the Web.
Weinberger's piece (a preface to a longer book that examines the Web) is a great introduction to how the Web was different from anything that came before it and how its inherent qualities of openness (and, perhaps, democratization) have ultimately informed what it has become.
Udell's short piece is a bit more theoretical – but it proposes a number of suggestions about how we should be thinking about and interacting with the Web. Udell is known for advocating that we become more nuanced and critical users of the Internet. This article summarizes some of the reasons why he thinks that we need to be more self-aware about our interactions with these technologies and spaces.
- Doug Engelbart 1968 Demo (VIDEOS)
- Home of the First Web Site (~1992)
- How the Web Works, Chad Chelius (2011) (VIDEO)
- How Search Works, Matt Cutts (2010) (VIDEO)
As you review the home of the first Web site, we encourage you to explore it via the Line Mode Browser Simulator, to get a real sense of how we first interfaced with the Web. Take a moment and reflect upon the incredible degree to which those interfaces have changed in the last 20 years.
The two short videos by Chelius and Cutts are pretty basic introductions to the concept of the Web and of Search Engines. Understanding how Search Engines work, even on a basic level, is critical to developing a literacy around and about the Web – after all, Search Engines mediate a vast amount of our interaction with the Web. When was the last time you thought about how the algorithms that build your search result ultimately affect your experience of the Web (and your ability to find what you're looking for on it)?
In addition, prior to the first meeting, we encourage you to think about what domain name (e.g., yourname.net) you might want to establish as part of this project. Below are some suggestions and guidelines to help you begin that thought process.