The Language of Frustration
July 10, 2008, 5:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been struggling with a project for the last several months, and today it all sort of came to a head.  I’ve been wanting to assemble a collection of pop culture resources for a long time, but then once I officially took on the task in the form of an independent study project earlier this year, I just couldn’t make it work.  I sold the project largely on the basis of my annotations, but the words completely overwhelmed the substance of the content.  It was like that classic Far Side cartoon where the first panel is called “What We Say to Dogs” and the second panel is called “What They Hear,” only my version said  blah blah blah eBay blah blah blah Amazon.  That’s an awful lot of blah blah blah, to the point where I could no longer pussyfoot around the fact that a more graphic presentation would better serve the content.

When I first started the project in January, I opted to work with Google Page Creator because I was just starting my Internet Fundamentals class and realized my head would explode if I tried to do my project in XHTML.  I’m pretty sure my head exploded as it was, but I’ve glued it back together so many times the cracks blend into the landscape.  At any rate, I’m done with my classwork and I’m feeling emboldened enough to see what I can hack out in my monkey-level code.  Based on how my day went I may have been somewhat overconfident, but for now I have built the foundations of a simple home page and I know what I want to do next.  As much as it is a bit deflating to go back to square one on design, I have assembled a great deal of information I can plug right into the new structure.

All my research and analysis thus far hasn’t been in vain, but I have nonetheless presented myself with a fairly immense challenge.  The old “use it or lose it” cliche about languages felt truer than ever today, as I seem to have forgotten everything I learned about XHTML just a few short months ago.  I would be embarrassed to admit how many hours I spent today, trying and failing repeatedly to center an image without using a deprecated <center> tag.  I tried using css with an external style sheet, but it gave me zipadoodle and I finally decided to embrace the deprecation until somebody who makes sense can explain how to do things in a more standards-compliant fashion.

I do wish I would have figured this out sooner, but I was too busy tripping over my own ego to hear what my gut was telling me.  I don’t mean so much that my ego was inflated, because if I didn’t have a healthy sense of humility about this project when I started it, I certainly acquired one right quick.  I’d invested so much of my time, my energy, and yes, my pride, on pursuing a direction somewhat against my better judgement, despite that annoying little voice that told me I was yodeling up the wrong canyon.  You may or may not be familiar with Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of flow, but I’m  pretty sure at one time or another you’ve been so engrossed in doing something that you became unaware of your surroundings and lost track of time.   I live for that feeling, which has been conspicuously missing from this project until I managed to swallow my pride and move that rubber tree plant to a spot where it’s not blocking my damn view.  I now have high hopes of finishing this project before the end of the summer, which is more than I had yesterday.

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