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Archive for the 'rant' Category

Fine Grain Knowledge vs Abstraction in the Brewing Process

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

A friend recently pointed to the classic 1998 brewing text by Ray Daniels titled Designing Great Beers : The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles and pointed out the need for fine grain knowledge when it comes to beer recipe development. I used to have the same discussion with web designers a decade ago. Abstraction is a useful tool and we all enjoy the benefits of abstraction throughout our lives; but nothing really beats having fine grain knowledge when the shit hits the fan.

In my past life I was a web developer. Specifically, I would hand code quality HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) with attention to usability, accessibility and cross platform consistency. In short, I was a fine grain knowledge kind of guy. And I used to tell these DreamWeaver coders that it’s all fine until something breaks – then you need to know that code backwards. You need to be able to go into that code that makes the look and feel and functionality and understand how to tweak the fine pieces to fix issues.

Being a web developer isn’t just about making websites – it’s about understanding and employing web technologies to achieve a desired result. On reflection of what my friend was saying about the Ray Daniels book, I have to agree. While you don’t absolutely need to know the fine grain knowledge of brewing math and science to make beer, you will make better beer with those levers available.

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Amateur Web Designers are not Professionals

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

The barriers to embarking on a web design/development career are pretty low. I once had a female friend email me her revelation that she would forthwith be selling herself as an SEO Expert, for example. Why? Because for some reason people think that there is a whole heap of easy money to be made in the web sector that I’m here to attest is rarely made outside of corporate work; often, it’s a slow death of pennies on the dollar and being underpitched by the amateurs.

My credentials. Well, I have TAFE Certificate 4s in Website Design and Website Administration, a Bachelor of Computing, and a Master of Business Administration with an extra specialisation in Journalism and Media Studies. Yes, the business degree is relevant because professional web design/development is fundamentally about solving business problems for your client. I’ve also worked on a bunch of web projects, both paid and gratis (ending in 2010) in the private and public sector and by invitation taught a semester to TAFE Design Diploma students in the subject of hand coding websites using Web Standards best practice.

Relevant units in my computing degree outside direct IT and programming skills were KXA156 Multimedia and Web Applications, KXA281 Advanced Web Development, BSA207 Web Management, BSA309 Multimedia Professional Placement, KXA358 Human-Computer Interaction, KXT307 Computer Networks, KXA355 Ubiquitous and Mobile Computing, KXT301 and KXT302 Software Engineering Project. I also did business electives like BMA251 Principles of Marketing and BSA102 Information Modelling and Infrastructures.

During my MBA (Master of Business Administration) and specialisation units the relevant subjects – ignoring strategic management, law for managers, ethics, finance, statistics, economics, organisational behaviour, etcetera – included BMA584 Marketing Management, BMA684 Electronic Marketing, BMA787 Entrepreneurship, HEJ504 Media Writing and HEJ606 Advanced Journalism. Beyond that I completed a postgraduate unit in Investigative Journalism with John Martinkus.

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The Art of Memory is to Never Trust It’s Bullshit

Friday, December 18th, 2020

The era I was born into held fast to certain ideas about memory and how it defined who you were as a person. For example, the idea that we record a running tape onto which time and space all but indelibly imprints itself for historic accuracy. The idea that Perry Mason could pick apart a person’s memory with an eye to exposing the truth. That events and conversations require black and white consensus, or someone is lying (the age-old he said, she said arguments). People still hold true to this outdated idea of memory regardless that science outright refutes it. Mostly because they don’t want to believe their memory is fallible. We equate our memories to the record of us as a human being.

Next came the metaphor where memories are stored in drawers and every time you open that drawer you rewrite the memory. This is how memories can be altered through revisiting the story over and over. Every time you talk about the memory where you saw a bear, that story mutates into another memory. This process can be influenced by others. Intelligent human beings have been freed after decades of incarceration by the State because the evidence finally proved they were not the killer; to this day they have the memory of the crime and the guilt of committing it. That speaks to exactly how strong a memory can be influenced by others.

In the realisation that memory is accessed and filed and re-accessed there is a worrying fragility given to the question of who we are as individuals. Because if we aren’t our persistent and immutable memories, if those memories can be shifted and shaped by ourselves and others, then how do we reconcile our story with any type of empirical reality?

And that’s the rub. We can’t. The truth as best we can ascertain at this point runs something like this: we are a story we tell ourselves that changes over time.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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