Beauty in Simplicity: The Internet, Programming, and Public Perception

My GitHub profile can be found here.

Prior to reading the “Timeline of Software and Languages” and “Timeline of Networking and the Web,” I was unaware of just how many different players and components were involved in forming the basis of the computing technology and internet that we know and use today. I especially enjoyed reading about and seeing the photographs of early computers and their initial applications in performing business functions. While early computers took up the space of an entire room, we now have computers in the form of mobile devices that fit in the palm of our hand and allow us to access information from nearly everywhere in an instant. The “How the Internet Works in 5 Minutes Video” also added to my baseline knowledge of computing and the internet. I found the video’s explanation of routers to be particularly enlightening. A router is something that many of us have in our homes, but I never fully understood how this device worked until watching this simple breakdown.

The two articles about computational thinking and journalism spurred my thinking about the intersections between the fields of programming, journalism, and public relations/communications. Students and professionals in these fields have the ability and opportunity to influence people’s thinking about current events, companies, organizations, and other people. As communications practitioners and journalists—and now as aspiring developers and programmers—what is our role in shaping the thought process of others and in influencing public perception, and how can we use programming language and web development tools to do this? I believe this class will give me the opportunity to explore the intersections and relationships between these fields.

As I read through “The Pragmatic Programmer Quick Reference Guide” and the software and programming philosophies, I noticed that each of these articles espouse several overarching themes that are also reflected in the timelines of programming and the web—ease of use, testing, improvement, and the continued pursuit of knowledge about coding and programming. In the Unix philosophy, one of the sections that stood out to me referred to the need to “encourage a software culture that knows that small is beautiful, that actively resists bloat and complexity: an engineering tradition that puts a high value on simple solutions…” (“Basics of the Unix Philosophy”). This idea that beauty lies in simplicity and ease of use for my target audiences and users will be a policy that guides my work throughout this semester. The WordPress software philosophy and GNU free software philosophy also lend credence to these themes. I am excited to learn how to use WordPress, and I am relieved to know that it has been designed to be easy to use and to adapt and improve for sharing with future users.

The aforementioned themes are important because I will use them as guiding principles for my work throughout this semester. How can I write code and develop a site that is simple, easy to use, and that caters to my audience’s needs while influencing their perception of my client or organization? How will I incorporate constant testing and self-guided learning to improve my programming skills and the look, feel, and user experience of my site? This summer, I look forward to learning as much as I can about the topic of web development, and will refer to the programming philosophies and reference guide as best practices to guide my efforts.

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