March, 1997

Shakespeare Resource Center screen shot from March, 1997

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The first generation of the website. This is actually the culmination of a misspent school term in which I was supposed to be learning technical writing (DePaul University, Dept. of English, ENG 495: Technical Writing). I had only been in the graduate school for one quarter, and my sole purpose was learning just enough about the English language to get a job as either a writer or an editor. As usual, nothing goes according to plan....

Part of my grand plan to get a job was to take a technical writing course so I could make a living on the coattails of technology without really having to know technology. At the first class, I was informed that learning basic HTML would play a great part in my passing the course. I remember being worried at the time, because I had limited experience with the World Wide Web at that point.

This is why I can't necessarily recommend my learning technique when people ask me, "So, how did you learn HTML?"  At the time, I was unemployed and living off the balance of my student loans. Nothing but time on my hands. I got home from class with a limited HTML primer consisting, as I remember, of a description of paragraph and header tags. I took that, logged onto the Internet, and proceeded to spend the next 36 hours (online and offline) picking apart websites by using the "View Source" command. Our first project for the next class was supposed to be a simple page using <P> and <H#> tags. Mine included anchor tags and an image. I was going overboard on every project that required HTML from that point on.

Which brings me to this design....

The Shakespeare Resource Center was born because we had to do a "resource" project in HTML for our class. After careful consideration, I decided that Shakespeare was a worthy subject and set about doing some initial research for it. I used my Earthlink membership space and created a directory; the initial site would reside at the address home.earthlink.net/~feiffor/bard/, consist of four to six pages with some setup material and links to primary websites, and might last until the end of the school year.

In keeping with my desire to one-up my classmates, I decided that I needed to go beyond anything we had learned previously. That's where the frames design comes in. We hadn't even touched frames in our HTML lessons, and we weren't going to learn them. However, I'd spent the entire quarter doing things in HTML before we'd gone over them in class; it would have defeated the whole learning process to have held back at the end. So, I designed the site in frames, one for navigation and one for the main content. And, as the research went on, I was introduced to the concept of "scope creep" as the page count finally came in at nine. I got an A for the final project, and after so much work, I decided that the site would stay up at least through the summer.

That May, I finally got a real job being a Web-type guy (I never did get a formal job description) at Coolsavings.com, where I was their first-ever Quality Assurance Coordinator for their website. They seemed to like the SRC, and it gave me something tangible to put on my résumé. The job couldn't have come at a better time—I was on my last sawbuck remaining from my student loans, which wouldn't resume until the fall.

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