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The Internet 101…….011010110010, Part II

“What is HTML?” This is a question that has confounded Web content creators dating back to the Roman Empire, although in those days HTML was spelled XIIVLDMXVV.

In simple terms – and I always chuckle when programmers begin that way – HTML is a set of elements that are used to define the structure and content of a Web page.

Confused? Good. That’s exactly what those scrawny, stooped little Web programmers want as they sneer at us from behind their thick, taped glasses. “Tell him…tell him it’s a set of elements,” they chortle to one another in their wheezy, high-pitched voices. “Yeah, and…and tell him there’s lots of math and if he wants it done in time for his meeting we’ll need more pizza!”

Here are the basics: HTML – which is pronounced by making the same sound you would when trying to cough up a feather – is an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language or, as it is more commonly known, Weapons of Mass Destruction (see previous blog.) HTML is a set of instructions used to build a Web page that dictate how your text looks, what colors appear, where pictures go, if there’s enough closet space, how are the schools, and whether you’re within walking distance to public transportation.

To understand how a Web page gets to your computer, you need to know that HTML, your Web browser and the Internet share an important relationship that is complex, dependent and, at times, inappropriate. The Web browser visits the Internet where it “asks” to see a Web page, or more specifically the page’s HTML. The Web browser “asks” very politely, if somewhat nervously, using language called http, an acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocols, which is just a fancy way of saying Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Internet, however, demands that the request follows specific rules or it’s Good Night, Irene!

Perhaps an analogy will make things less clear. Think of HTML as a teenage daughter, the Web browser as her prom date, and the Internet as her dad, who is in foul mood and drinking heavily having been fired today for losing the Kretchmeyer account:

HTML: “Daddy, that’s Browser at the door. Will you let him in and I’ll be right down?”

DAD: “Yeah, yeah! Sure, honey. (Muttering)…’the Hell kinda name is ‘Browser’? (Throws open door) What’daya want?”

BROWSER: “H..hello, Mr. Net. I’m here to..to pick up your daughter?”

DAD: “Oh really? Just like that? No polite banter? No ‘How do you do, Mr. Net? Lovely night out, Mr. Net. Are you a sports fan, Mr. Net?’”

BROWSER: “I…I’m sorry. Um, lovely night, Mr. Net. Are..you a—”

DAD: “URL! Call me URL, not ‘Mr. Net.’”

BROWSER: “Uh…are you a sports fan, Earl?”

DAD: “It’s URL, you little shit!”

HTML: “Hi Browser! Daddy, what’s all the shouting…Oh, my God! Are you drinking again? You’re humiliating yourself in front of Browser!”

DAD: “I think you’d better leave, Brows. Right now!”

HTML: “Daddy, no! It’s my prom!”

DAD: “That boy’s not to be trusted, honey! You’re my precious, little file and he just wants to corrupt you.”

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, http://www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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