One of the modules I’m doing for the first term at University this term revolves mainly around psychology; for the lecture next week we were asked to consider a question to be discussed.
What is the most important website on the internet?
Initially, when the question appeared on the projector board most people would react with Google, or Facebook. I can see why these were many peoples initial reactions, these sites are the giants of the web which make up a very large part of many peoples lives. Are they the most important websites on the internet though? No, I don’t think so.
As far as I am concerned the “most important” site on the internet varies depending on the use case, but for this particular question there is no use case. It’s very much an open-ended question which leaves me to argue that no site on the internet is the most important, we cannot conclude that a certain site is the most important unless we know the users objectives.
Yet I suspect that is again, not the case. I would presume that most people are likely to have their own site that they would describe as their favourite, and to them that is the most important.
Based on establishing that each individual person is likely to have their own “most important” website, what is mine? For this we have to go way back into my past, and look at the story of how I got to where I am now.
For the start of this story we have to go way back to when I first started in secondary school. I recall being asked if I was interested in joining a ‘web design’ club after school; I accepted this invitation and was taught how to use dreamweaver to build my own website. I couldn’t tell you what it looked like, or even what it was about anymore.
The next year we had a few sites we were helping to maintain, one of which for the Writhlington Orchid Project, with which I still work today. These sites ran on a CMS called Mambo, we didn’t do any real work on them, it was all copying and pasting existing content onto the correct page.
Some time later on I was recommended that I look at a book by an IT technician at the school; this was the first web related book I owned, and as I type this I have it in front of me now. It is the first edition of the book “How to build your own web site the right way using HTML & CSS” by Ian Lloyd. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone now unless is has been updated but it ignited the spark that got me to where I am today.
One thing that bugged me whilst working on this site was the sheer volume of repetition. I hated how much I was required to copy and paste the same code between pages to get the same parts on each, and this got me searching for a solution. I discovered PHP which allowed me use simple includes to automatically import these section of markup. This unlocked the world of programming to me as I delved deeper and deeper into it, until I eventually built my first database powered website.
This part of the process doesn’t matter much for this article though, all that’s important is that it started off my interest in programming; in making computers work for me.
From that first spark I’m now firing on all cylinders as I am starting to work on some projects which are pushing my skills further than ever before.
Going back to the original question, what is the most important website on the internet to me? Well, in truth it’s not actually on the internet. Not the copy I made following the book anyway. In answer to the question though, that very first site is the most important website to me.
For those interested, the site built in the book was called Bubble Under, and does have a version of the website online for the book, albeit a little more up-to-date than the version I built all those years ago.