LIS 390W1A - Course Narrative

Table of Contents

Class 1: Introduction


  • Welcome, introduce self.
  • Introductions, in the following format:
    • Name
    • Department
    • What are your interests (e.g., what motivates you in life, why do you find your major interesting, etc.)?
    • Do you know HTML? CSS? How to program? Are you familiar with W3C standards?
    • How much prior experience do you have creating web content?
    • What do you hope to learn by taking this class?

Brief Overview of the Class

In this class we will primarily be focusing on the world wide web and the various technologies that make using the web possible. The goal is to provide you with a basic conceptual understanding of how it all works, so that you can both create your own web content, and be able to hold intelligent conversations about the web. The purpose of this class is pragmatic. In the early 2000s, it might have been possible to teach you everything you need to know about the web to become an expert. Today, web technologies are emerging and changing so fast that it is impossible within the scope of this class to truly engage with all the technologies you might want to learn or know about. Thus, the purpose of this class is to give you a working, foundational knowledge that will prepare you to learn about any aspect of the web you are interested in. It is also to teach you how to learn about new, emerging, and changing technologies so that you can teach yourself as things change and evolve.

There are five things this class is geared to impart:

  1. An ability to create basic web content.
  2. An understanding of various ways in which a person can access content.
  3. An ability to research new web technologies and techniques and and ability to keep up with changes to known technologies and techniques.
  4. An ability to evaluate the affordances of technologies which may be useful for supporting the creation or access of content
  5. An understanding of the historical and conceptual motivations that have and continue to shape the development of the web.

More specifically what I hope you will learn in this class:

  • A general understanding of how computers, the Internet and the World Wide Web work.
  • An understanding of various methods of how to get content up on the web, and a general understanding of how they work.
  • The ability to use HTML and CSS to create content and the knowledge of what is required to publish that content.
  • An general understanding of how programming works, especially with PHP and Javascript.
    • We will only go over how to create very basic dynamic web pages. The purpose of this introduction is to give you the ability to read code, and successfully incorporate fragments of code you find on the web into your own websites.
    • It is beyond the scope of this course to teach you how to program.
  • An understanding of how to evaluate these kinds of technologies for the purposes of your project.

Why won't we be learning in-depth how to create dynamic pages? Several reasons:

  1. Pragmatic: The difference between static and dynamic pages is the difference between markup and programming
    • Markup is enhancement of text (or, theoretically, media in general).
    • Programming is telling the computer how to perform a particular function.
    • Programming is beyond the scope of this course.
  2. Historical: This course is intended to be an introduction to HTML (primarily).

However, the internet and the web are rapidly changing, so what we cover is somewhat flexible: tell me what you want to learn, and I'll see if we can cover it.

Administrative Stuff

Please see the Administration page of this site.

Assignments & Grading

Please see the Assignments & Grading page of this site.

Expectations & Philosophy

Please see the Philosophy section of this site.

Lab 1

Lab 1: Introduction to HTML: How Easy is Easy?

Quick Admin Work

As part of class today, I need everyone to complete the following task. If you are not in class today, you still need to complete these steps on your own. What this will do is create a file that will allow you to change the permissions of files in your directories and have them stick. This is a GSLIS-system-specific task.

  1. Open a terminal window, or, if you are using windows, open an SSH client (either SSH or PuTTY; see the Course Technologies page for more info).
  2. SSH into one of the classroom servers.
    • On Macs: type in the following command at the command prompt (without the % sign - the % sign indicates that you are at a command prompt when typing):

      % ssh

      Remember to substitute your NetID for "netid", and you can pick any of the classroom servers to ssh into; remember, they run from 01 to 05 (e.g.,

    • On Windows: fill out the appropriate boxes in the connect window. There should be a box that says "user name" and a box that says "server" or something like that. Type in your NetID into the "user name" box and the url of one of the classroom servers into the "server" box (see the Mac instructions above).
  3. Type in your GSLIS password at the prompt.
  4. Once you are successfully connected, type in (or copy and paste) the following command at the prompt - be sure to substitute your NetID for "netid":

    % cd /homei/users/netid
  5. Type in "pwd" and hit enter to make sure that you are in the right path.
  6. Type in the following command (and hit enter):

    % touch .keepperms

    This should create an empty file called ".keepperms". All files in unix that start with a period (a ".") are hidden files. Therefore, if you type in "ls" to list all the files, you will not see it. Type in "ls -a" (the -a means "all"), and you will see it. Type in "ls -al" and you will see the long format description of all the files. Personally, I rarely use -a without -l.

    To learn more about any command, simply type in "man commandname" where "commandname" is the name of the command. Thus, to learn more about the "touch" command, type in "man touch", to learn more about the "ls" command, type in "man ls", etc.

  7. Type in the following commands, one at a time, and be sure to keep the capitalization the same as what is written below (the command-line is case sensitive):

    % chmod o+rx .
    % chmod o+rx courseweb_html
    % chmod -R o+r courseweb_html

    This changes the permissions on all your files and directories in your courseweb directory (-R stands for "recursive") so that they are read accessible, and it makes your username directory and your courseweb directory navigable (the x stands for executable).

  8. Now type in the following commands:

    % cd courseweb_html
    % find . -type d -exec chmod o+rx '{}' ';'

    This will find all the directories in your courseweb_html directory, and change their permissions to be both readable and browseable.