Third web design workshop:
Machines Read, Too (with a little help from their human friends)

Patrick Mooney, Co-Lead TA, Department of English
Office Hours this spring (for TAs): Th 1:30-2:30 (& by appt), in Nicoletti's.
Voicemail: (805) 272-0069

During the first two workshops in this series, our focus was on writing web pages in such a way that the information was visible, intelligible, and attractive to humans viewing the web pages. But web pages aren't just viewed by humans; they're also read in various ways by machines. Of course, one of these has been touched on briefly already: HTML files are read by web browsers and rendered to produce the visible web pages that all of us interact with all the time. But there are some other more or less obvious examples of web pages being read by machines that we should consider:

This workshop focuses on how information that's represented in human-readable web pages can be made more machine-readable. We're primarily talking about:

Software we're using

I recommend that you install the Operator Firefox extension and set up at least a minimalist Google+ profile, if you haven't already. (You are also welcome to connect to me on G+, if you'd like.) More details can be found here.

Recommended preparation

Homework (which you can adapt in scope to your own schedule): As I said in the first workshop, you won't actually be learning these skills unless you practice them. My recommendation is that you produce a short "about me" HTML document that includes your name, a photo, and several links to you on other web sites (social networks, the English department's profile for you, etc.). I also recommend that your markup be semantic rather than presentational, and we'll talk in even more detail about why I recommend this than we did in the second workshop. (If you need more information about what I mean when I say this, you might want to watch the screencast or view the slideshow from the first workshop.)

Recommended background reading

Feel free to peruse any of the links in the sections outlined below. You may find, if you are pressed for time (and who among us isn't?), that a good set of quick background reading would be skimming one or more articles in the conceptual background section, plus looking at the descriptions of the hCard and/or XFN microformats. (If the technical descriptions seem difficult, don't let that deter you from coming: I'll go over the important bits in layperson's terms.)

Useful links

Available here, and divided into these categories: