Creating Web Documents                                               

Instructor: Prof. Peter Ohring
Class Hours:  Monday, Thursday 2:30-4:10
Location:   New Media Computer Lab in Nat Sci 1013
Office Hours: Nat Sci 1007: Thursday: 12:30-2:30,
Wednesday 2:30-3:30
Email:    peter.ohring@purchase.edu
Website:   http://faculty.purchase.edu/peter.ohring/

Course Objectives

  1. Facility in authoring web documents using html, css, and basic scripting
  2. A deeper and broader appreciation of how the www is evolving as a communications medium including cultural, social, ethical and legal issues.
  3. Experience in conceptualizing, designing and implementing projects that creatively use the web medium.

Course Structure: The class meets twice a week. Thursdays will be devoted to hands-on work and more technical topics while Mondays will center on class discussions based on the weekly reading along with other learning activites.

Hands-on work will often involve lab worksheets that should be completed, signed by either the instructor or TA, and submitted.

We will be using moodle, an open source course management system, extensively this semester. Course materials, other resources, and grades will be posted there.

Attendance at all classes is required. You are allowed up to three absences. Each absence beyond this threshold will result in a letter grade deduction from your final grade.

Reading Responses: You will have weekly reading assignments. For each reading you must submit a response that is at least one page long (double-spaced). These responses are not summaries. Unless we pose a question to you ahead of time in class, you should write your thoughts about the reading (e.g. what was interesting to you, what do you agree with, what do you not agree with, what do you not understand etc.). These responses are to show me that you read the materials closely and prepare you for class discussion. Submit yor responses through the weekly moodle assignment set up for this purpose.

Labs: The labs will be a combination of self-paced work using worksheets and instructor led activities.  Hand in your completed, signed, lab sheets before the start of the next lab.

Exams: The midterm and final will focus on technical materials covered in the course.

Projects: The two course projects are opportunities for you to synthesize the various topics that we will covering in class and for you to explore creative uses of the web medium.

Attendance and Grading: Attendance at all classes is required. You are allowed up to three absences. Each absence beyond this threshold will result in a letter grade deduction from your final grade. Attendance includes participating in social software facilitated interaction that we conduct outside of class. The final course grade will be determined as follows:

Readings and Responses: 25 %
Labs: 20%
Exams: 20%
Class Projects 25%
Class Participation: 10%

Text: Learning Web Design, Third Edition, Jennifer Niederst Robbins. (pdf available in moodle.)

Special Needs: I encourage students with disabilities to let me know as soon as possible during the semester what, if any, special accommodations they will need.  After-the-fact accommodations will not be possible.  All students requesting accommodation for disabilities need to provide documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities.  This office is located in the Counseling Center, in the basement of Humanities (Room 0012).  Call Ronnie Mait, who directs the office, at (914) 251-6035, or call the Counseling Center, (914) 251-6390.  They are happy to answer questions.  For more information, go to http://www.purchase.edu/studaff/specialstudentservices.

Syllabus: This syllabus is subject to change. Always refer to the class web site for the current syllabus, live hyperlinks and class announcements.

Week 1 (August 30 - First Day)

Reading:
As We May Think, The Atlantic Monthly | July 1945, Vannevar Bush
Consider the following questions when you write up your response. These questions will
also guide our class discussion.

  1. What does Bush mean when he talks about the “record”
  2. What are the similarities and differences between media in 1945 and the present.
  3. Compare Associative Indexing with Numerical/Alphabetical Indexing; what are the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and when are they appropriate?
  4. Social Tagging (flickr, del.icio.us, facebook) is a relatively new approach to indexing. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach to indexing versus the traitional Numerical/Alphabetical Indexing?
  5. What did Bush miss?


Class Activities
Lab 1: HTML Basics
(Chapters 3-5 in Learning Web Design)

Week 2 (September 6)

Assignment:
Go to the campus library and get the microfilm or microfiche for the issue of the New York Times published on the day you were born. Read and write about a few articles. Compare the convenience of using these media (standard for research not long ago) to reading newspaper and magazine articles on the web. Integrate this experience into your reading response for this week.

Reading:
An Oral History of the Internet, Chapter I: The Conception, Vanity Fair, July 2008, Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb
The History of the Internet in a Nutshell, Cameron Chapman


Class Activities
Lab 2:Working with Images
(Chapters 7, 18, 19 in Learning Web Design)

Week 3 (September 13)

Reading:
Is Google Making Us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr Consider the following questions when you write up your response. These questions will also guide our class discussion.

  1. Describe the different paradigm shifts in communication technology over human history.
  2. How does your experience with the web compare with the author's?
  3. What do you think about the assertion that the Internet is effecting our brains?

Class Activities
Lab 3: Working with Links
(Chapter 6 in Learning Web Design)

Week 4 (September 20)

Reading:
Understanding Comics, Chapter 1, Scott McCloud
Consider the following questions when you write up your response. These questions will also guide our class discussion.

  1. What do comics, as defined by McCloud, share with the web? How do they differ?
  2. Write done a definition of a website in the spirit of McCloud's definition of comics.
  3. Understanding Comics was publishedi n 1993, before the web had wide acceptance. What do you think has been the impact of the web on the comics art form?
  4. Why do you think this reading is relevant to this class? Not relevant?

Class Activities
Lab 4: Formatting with CSS
(Chapters 12, 13 in Learning Web Design)

Week 5 (September 27)

Reading:
Web Style Guide, 3rd Edition, Chap. 3, Information Architecture, Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton

Class Activities
Lab 5: Page Layout with CSS
(Chapters 14, 15 in Learning Web Design)

Week 5 (October 4)

Reading:
Web Style Guide, 3rd Edition, Chap. 4, Interface Design , Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton

Class Activities
Lab 5: Page Layout with CSS continued
(Chapters 14, 15 in Learning Web Design)

Week 6 (October 11)

Reading:
Photography in the age of falsification, Atlantic Monthly | May 1998, pages 92-111. , Kenneth Brower
Consider the following questions when you write up your response. These questions will also guide our class discussion.

  1. Media have long been manipulated in order to distort the truth. However, digital media and tools like Photoshop have made it very easy to do this in a professional way. Is this a serious problem? What are the solutions?
  2. Various digital media have contributed to a blurring of reality and fiction. For example, the NY Times reported in an article titled “Try Convincing a Child These Are Real Penguins” on June12, 2005 that “children today, reared on a steady diet of lifelike computer-generated imagery”, know their animation. It's real life that may trip them up, if reports from screenings of the documentary ''The March of the Penguins'' are any indication… Angie Argabrite, from Clifton, N.J., took her children to a screening and was surprised to learn that all three thought the film had been at least partly animated. Her 10-year-old son, Eli, asked, '''If they wanted to make the film so real, why did they use special effects when the penguins were underwater?''. Can you think of other examples of this kind of blurring? Is this is a serious issue?
  3. It is said in the article that Ansel Adams… ‘turned to music for his metaphor and mantra.“The negative is the score,” Adams would recite. “The print is the performance.”’ For what other artistic and nonartistic endeavors are score and performance good metaphors?
  4. In what other areas of culture and society is digital photofakery prevalent. For example in the 2004 election fake “guilt by association” was used to discredit John Kerry. (A fake photo of Kerry with Jane Fonda together at an anti-war demonstration was circulated. The Washington Post had an interesting editorial on the subject. See also the recent brouhaha over a photo of Iranian missiles .)
  5. Artistic Practice is not always the same as Photo Journalism. Practitioners have different responsibilities towards their audiences. How do you think the ethical issues raised in this article apply in the arts?
  6. Other media can be manipulated and “staged”. Give examples of this and discuss their relationship to photofakery.

Class Activities
Lab 6: Applying Styles
(Chapters 17 in Learning Web Design)

Week 7 (October 18)

Reading:
Getting There - The science of driving directions, The New Yorker, April 17, 2006 , Nick Paumgarten

Class Activities
Website design
Midterm, work in class on midterm projects, file transfer protocol (ftp)
(Chapters 20 in Learning Web Design)

Week 8 (October 25)

Reading:
no reading this week.

Class Activities
Present midterm projects

Week 9 (November 1)

Reading:
How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web, Steven Levy, in Wired March 2010

Class Activities
Lab 7: Page Layout with Tables
(Chapters 8 in Learning Web Design)

Week 10 (November 8)

Reading:
no reading this week

Homework (NetArt)
Pick one netart project/artist to present in class on Thursday. Address what drew you to the project technically and conceptually and how the site is "alternative" or breaks the rules. Some portal sites that would be good to use are Turbulence, Computer Fine Arts and the Whitney Artport. Post a link to the project site on the moodle forum set up for this purpose, together with a response describing your reaction to the piece. Return to moodle and visit at least two other project sites reccomended by other students - respond to at least two of them.

Class Activities
Lab 8: Intro to JavaScript

Week 11 (November 15)

Reading:
Taste For Makers, Paul Graham
Consider the following questions when you write up your response. These questions will also guide our class discussion.

  1. How has "taste" evolved on the web over the past 10 years? Use the waybackmachine to peek at websites from years past.
  2. The article presents a stove top example of good vs bad design. What other examples from our daily lives work as examples of good vs bad design.
  3. What criteria for good design would you add to the list?
  4. Which criteria described in the article are most relevant to web design and why?


Class Activities
HTML Forms, Javascript and Forms
Lab 9: Javascript and Forms
(Chapter 9 in Learning Web Design)

Week 12 (November 22)

Reading:
No reading.

Class Activities
Lab 10: HTML 5

Week 13 (November 29)

Reading:
The internet: Everything you ever need to know, John Naughton, The Observer, Sunday 20 June 2010

Class Activities
Lab 11: Flash

Week 14 (December 6)

Reading:
No Reading

Class Activities
Final Exam
Work on Projects

Week 15 (December 13, 3:00-5:30 p.m.)

Reading:
No Reading

Class Activities
Final Presentations