Why is the web inspector editable?

The thought of someone sitting in their home rewriting the headline on the front page of a newspaper makes me cringe. Why then, is it possible for me to go to Sir Ian McKellen’s official webpage and change his background image to that of a cat in a turkey costume?

It’s obvious that the web inspector tool is useful for learning how the building bocks of code and style interact. I can also understand that it may be helpful to inspect the code of a website in order to debug it, or to be sure that it doesn’t contain malicious material. But I can’t think of a lot of reasons why it should be editable to the point of replacing McKellen’s face with Turkey Cat’s.

Regardless of the reason, it reveals a few things about the personality of web development, and perhaps of web developers themselves: they are tinkerers. In using Codecademy for the first time, I was reminded of how genuinely rewarding it is to achieve tiny victories in code. If you’re not de-bugging to figure out a past mistake, you’re often pre-bugging to see if (maybe) you can get something right the first time. Because of this, it’s important to break the code components (and the expected behavior) into its smallest unit.

For that reason, I’m also excited to begin becoming familiar with GitHub, which operates a bit like track changes for large pieces of code. With each small unit of code and expected behavior, new opportunities for error and unexpected outcome are introduced. Thus, the ability to isolate small changes and to keep a clear record of edits over time is extremely valuable.

But I’m still not totally convinced about the web inspector tool…

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