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The Usefulness of Encoding

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February 17, 2015 by nbrown24

A few years ago I was working as a Program Coordinator for the City of Norcross. The department I was in was in charge of putting on events for the city, such as concerts and festivals, and a small part of my duties included editing the department website. So I tried to learn some basic HTML coding in an effort to do more than just impart text onto a webpage. What I remember most about HTML was how what seemed on the surface to be so direct and simple was actually incredibly intricate the more you delved into it. The TEI guidelines article “A Gentle Introduction to XML” reminded me of these complexities, and how little knowledge I actually have of text encoding. To say that I don’t exactly understand text encoding and all of its components would be an understatement. Just trying to read that article, let alone comprehend it, was a bit of a task in and of itself, and at times it felt as if trying to read another language. In essence that’s really what coding like HTML and XML is: a language of encoding that, when fully utilized, can be effective in formatting webpages in a desired fashion.

There is another facet of this that needs to be discussed. With the prevalence of websites like WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger it is not as necessary as it once was for people who are interested in running a blog or website to have a deep understanding of code and all of it. While it was easy for me to learn basic HTML codes such as bolding, underlining or italicizing text, the deeper uses of HTML escaped me. Even the Burnard article shows this. When he is first explaining the uses of XML structures, the example he uses shows how to add quotation marks around texts, it appears to be simple and straightforward. Yet the more in depth you get into encoding the more complicated it becomes. And in an age when blogging has become as easy as signing up for an account with one of the aforementioned websites, is it really necessary to know the ins and out of text encoding?


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