There was a time when nobody knew how to write literary prose. The geniuses who invented it shared their special tool with a few friends, and they relished in their private, elite communications. Eventually monks, politicians, and academics joined the club. Now, we judge a society’s overall level of intellectual advancement by the literacy rate: the percentage of people who have learned to read and write.
Long ago, it would have been ridiculous to assume a whole society could be judged by its ability to read and write prose. It feels ridiculous now, to assume that we might use computer programming as a similar benchmark. Yet it may happen.
Daniel Jalkut - Learn To Code.
Suzi Steffen pointed me to this post by Doug McLennan earlier. I like it. Doug writes,
I think the new literate goes beyond words, and beyond making video and image and sound. I think code and meta-data are the new literacy, and that in turn leads to a new literateness. Information and ideas are multi-dimensional. Those who can take dynamic information and mash it up and mix it and find creative ways of presenting it in service of ideas have the possibility of communicating in more compelling ways than with just words or video or image.
He’s spot on. It reminds me of something Matt said earlier this year in a Q&A session with Memburn. He said,
Scripting is the new literacy, and the ability to learn and execute on your ideas without relying on anybody else is going to be invaluable as you iterate and experiment on building something. It’s good to build for yourself first, because in the worst-case scenario where no one else likes it, at least you will.
That type of individual-driven creation and publication is something schools still struggle to grasp. Our school system must move quickly to adopt new ideas of literacy beyond what’s traditional.
I particularly like that Doug pointed out it’s more than the act of creation that makes for literacy. You need to do more than write, record, or photograph. A creative form of presentation is an inherent part of his definition. Your ability to use, master, and build those tools determines how much you control your path.
Just when I think I’ve wrapped up the changes to my site I realize that there’s a half dozen CSS and content changes still left. It’s a process.
Responsive Design Testing. Cool site that allows you to test a URL in various widths and device sizes. Really handy for testing a responsive design you’re working on.
Ian Stewart, of Thematic fame, gave a terrific presentation at WordCamp San Francisco about how to use post formats in your WordPress theme. The video is now online and posted over at ThemeShaper.
He’s also made all the slides available to download if you want to save them for later reference.
If you’re looking to make your site more flexible and better able to handle various types of content I highly recommend watching this all the way through. Great stuff.
Post formats significantly changed how I write and made a digital commonplace book possible. If you’re not using them on your site right now you’re really missing out.
Don’t Fear the Internet. Fantastic series that aims to introduce basic HTML and CSS to non-web designers. The videos are incredibly well designed and focus on getting you actually doing things.
I’ve meant to set up a photo blog for a while now. I made a quick photo theme a while back but it was really just a dirty hack of this theme and I never got around to setting it up. This time I decided to eat my dog food and set it up on WordPress.com.
This way I can use the iOS app even more and maybe hammer on post by email some as well. I got that set up last night so head on over and take a look.
I also have wanted to start tracking more information through my domain. I started off simple by just writing a basic reading list feature into my theme. It’s a digital bookshelf stream of sorts.
I’m hoping things like length of time reading and page count will, in aggregate, show some cool data after a year. I still have to figure out how to track length with Kindle texts though.
There are some rough edges, author and genre pages for example, but I’ll clean up the loose ends and then make it all available on the existing Github project.
Spent the better part of a weekend starting a simple WordPress theme for photos. Boone Gorges’ post from this week make me think of attempting something similar. Put the project up on GitHub for now.
If you can create a culture of teaching and learning within your community like what went on when Greg showed us git, your project will take off. Those moments are more important to the humans involved than any app feature.
Gina Trapani — Your Community Is Your Best Feature.