Self-expression on the internet: a hybrid approach?

The internet should help you express yourself easily and ensure you have control over the content and quality of your writings. But is that possible?

The internet has always been called the great platform for self-expression. The claim goes that you no longer need to be talented and lucky enough to get your work into a book or newspaper or magazine; anyone can publish anything to the internet, and if it’s good enough, it can get found.

It’s definitely true that the cost of self-expression has gone down with the internet, so people are much more likely and able to use it to publish their ideas. (The idea of economic cost, or amount of effort it takes to do something, is a very powerful one, by the way. When it gets easier to do something, that thing explodes in popularity. It’s pretty self-evident, but it’s a powerful way of looking at things like the rise of self-expression with the internet.)

There are two main ways of publishing content online:

  • Publishing independently (making your own platform)
  • Using someone else’s platform (hosted publishing)

Both of these fall short of the goal of allowing for easy self-publishing. I think, though, that there’s room for a hybrid that would bring the best of both.

How to make a website, part 1

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but there’s this thing called the internet that people these days tend to use a lot. As I’ve said before, it’s extremely important nowadays to now how to develop for the web.

So what better way to learn and practice web development skills, all while making a name for yourself on the world’s biggest platform, than to create a website?

This is the first in a series of tutorials where I’ll show you, step-by-step, how to build an awesome website from scratch.

Let’s go, yo.

Why care about web development?

Say you want to write about how awesome your pet toaster is and publish it for everyone to see. Say you want to make an app where users can interact with their own virtual pet toasters. Say you want to start selling pet toasters online once you’ve convinced everyone how awesome they are.

In this case, I’d probably be a bit concerned about your sanity. But, more importantly, you’d want to learn some web development – that is, the art of creating web pages like the one you’re viewing right now.

‘Tis the season… to not visit websites

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the life of a web developer.

You’d think that people would go on the internet with that shiny new phone/tablet/toaster they got for the holiday season.

Apparently, no one does that. Here’s a look at my latest hits (not the band type, I mean the number of visitors to

hathix visitors graph
As the festive spirit goes up, visits to websites go down.

From what I’ve seen, this seems to be the case with pretty much every website and app: visits or downloads sharply decrease during holiday season. For what it’s worth, things return right back to normal once the new year begins.

An introduction to web development

HTML 5 logo on an iPhone smartphone with app icons around it in a cloud
Welcome to the web.

Back in my day (OK, before my day), the profession of web developer was a low one. It ranked below puppy hater but above Yankees fan on the scale of professional honor. Because of all the tags and transparency spacer images we used, we were seen as crude hackers with no sense of aesthetics.

Well, we may still be lacking in aesthetic sense, but as the Web has developed so has the profession of web developer. These days there are countless tools we can use to make well-written, standards-conforming, and beautiful (OK, maybe not that last one) web pages. Most of the great websites you use today (shameless plug: including this one) are built using these tools.

HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript: the future of the web

Before I start, a brief trip through history…

It’s 1999. Internet Explorer 5 is hot stuff, the tech bubble is growing. And Mariano Rivera is World Series MVP. And young (gasp.)

A web developer sits at his computer, drinking coffee and writing some code. He wants to make a browser-based game. The only way he can do this is to use Adobe’s Flash platform to make an interactive movie and embed that in his website.

He wants to put a video on his site too. YouTube sounds like the name of a cheesy subway line, nothing more. Our developer has to make a Flash movie for that, too.