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How to Make a Website: Guide to Web Creation, Design & Styling

I am a textual thinker, not a visual thinker. The resources I create for my own students focus on my own strengths and needs as a college English teacher:  the writing, basic conventions, and genres such as instructions and emails, and user-focused areas I’ve picked up out of necessity after watching my students learn to write for the web (there’s nothing in a typical composition class that will help them understand the…

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The neglected history of videogames for the blind

What kind of a “videogame” has no video? Nomenclature aside, this is an interesting exploration of audio-only games. Playing Real Sound as a sighted player, it’s hard not to be disoriented at first. Its dialogue—better acted than in any game I’ve played—cannot be skipped over or sped up by mashing a button repeatedly. We’re used to visual distinctions between “gameplay” and “cutscene,” where the former requires our active attention and…

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“What Teachers Make” Sequence of Assignments

Every year I rewatch Taylor Mali’s passionate defense of “What Teachers Make.” As part of a sequence of assignments designed to help students write a more engaging personal literacy narrative, I use Mali’s speech. Yes, it’s my job to teach composition, but composition is a term that applies to music, photography, choreography, athletics, etc. Students already have an intuitive sense of what makes a good Vine, what makes a good…

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World Trade Center Literary and Cultural Reflections (first posted September 11, 2001)

Not knowing what else to do, in the numb hours after the towers fell, I made a web page that explored the World Trade Center in literature and culture, as well as urban technology in general. I updated it a bit over the next few weeks or months, but have mostly left it as an historical record.    As journalists improvised to meet the public’s demand for online updates (in…

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The End of Headphone Jacks, the Rise of DRM

When you plug an audio cable into a smartphone, it just works. It doesn’t matter whether the headphones were made by the same manufacturer as the phone. It doesn’t even matter what you’re trying to do with the audio signal—it works whether the cable is going into a speaker, a mixing board, or a recording device. With the headphone jack gone, every other option is controlled by the iPhone’s software. With…