APIs and JavaScript

(I’m trying a new way to organise my thoughts into words since I’ve been dissatisfied with my previous blog posts.)

This week in DITA, we’ve learnt about web services, the dynamic content you see and use on a web page, and APIs which is the interface which allows different software to interact. In this post I intend to explain the things we’ve learnt and my opinions on them.

APIs

APIs, which stand for Application Programming Interface, allows you to access date from the web server which you can later you to develop and modify programmes with. Originally this was something I struggled to understand, partially because while I was reading about it something about it felt so…incorporeal. I understood the coding languages and such because I could see the codes that create the outcome but with APIs I could not see the process of software interacting with one other or how the data was accessed. However, it is an important tool used with the creation and development of web applications. Applications can use the data collected to manipulate websites and personalise them for each individual user and this enhances web services even further!

It’s also thanks to APIs that we are able to allow different websites to interact with each other and put that data on different websites through embedding shortcodes. I feel this is a very important development because re-posting content is a huge issue in website and by embedding content such as videos and music, you are able to share them on your preferred platform and still allow views and response to the original creator which I think is very important.

JavaScript

I was super excited to learn about JavaScript because I’ve always had a slight interest in coding languages. JavaScript is a dynamic computer programming language¬† which defines the behaviour of web pages and allows scripts within it to interact with the user. Recently I’ve started to learn JavaScript and besides the fact that getting the syntax wrong is an absolute nightmare I find it a complex and exciting coding language to learn. There’s a certain thrill in seeing your script work after working on it for ages to get it to run the way you want it to! Compared to CSS and HTML, you’re able to do more things, or at least dynamic tasks which is very satisfying to see. Getting the right syntax is important however in order to get computers to understand you but hopefully I’ll be able to work it out!

how do we fi[x this mess]

This week in DITA we talked about relational databases and information retrieval and did several exercises in information retrieval. My title is just me quoting a result I had after having a bit of fun with Google’s autocorrect. I like questions, I like the sense of innocent curiosity you get from the ones searched. You really can’t find fault with even the most ridiculous of questions because in the end it is a genuine concern or curiosity a person has about the world. The main issue is how to find or provide the answers to them.

It’s interesting to see how far we’ve developed the search techniques used to search through databases despite the growing amount of information there is on the Web daily. From using structured queries to being able to input natural language in searches to find items. I think it makes its simpler and easier for most people to use unstructured queries without having to remember the specific search operators needed to find relevant answers.

However reflecting to a lab exercise we did previously where we evaluate websites what I found dissatisfying about many of the websites was how they relied on Google search to find particular pages or information on the website. In my opinion the problem with that is that without advanced search tools or even a basic understanding of search operators, it makes it difficult to filter through search results to find the exact page you need, and I feel that most people, regardless of how often they use Google, are unware of the latter.

I started wondering if there is a way to integrate search operators into people’s normal practices when entering queries, it’s something that I think most students now study when they’re young but never really continued to practice for some reason. I think it could be partially the fact that search operators, well, doesn’t come as naturally as simply inputting unstructured queries into a search.¬† Furthermore, as much as I enjoyed using search operators, when I did the exercise I find that Google’s information retrieval has adapted so well to natural language that you can find pretty relevant answers for many general questions.

Which brings to question how far could search engines improve the quality of information retrieval? Is it up to technology to advance at this point or for people to improve their own technical knowledge to be able to use the full potential of these information retrieval tools?

Just for my own amusement, I’ve decided to end this page with the rest of my results in google:

c4f7f868621d3817cfd1d740c08d8705(Is it charming enough to go on Google Poetics??)

Blog’s First Post

Just started up my blog and I’m pretty excited!

As a law graduate I was pleasantly surprised to realise just how diverse the field of library and information science was! I’ve never thought of looking at library science in this particular light until recently and it is incredibly fascinating to see the progress up to now! I intend to use this blog to talk about my thoughts on the matter and review what I have learned throughout the week.

The term information architecture is a rather new word for me yet I believe it beautifully describes a very important aspect in our lives. The web becomes increasingly essential to us and thus management of digital information becomes more important to people now than ever. This week we talk about defining information architecture and online publishing and something that I wondered about was publishing and interactions on the Web in relation to blogs and social networks. Blogs and such are created to encourage people to publish content online however most people do not create blogs of their own and there has been a series of websites such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter that not only encourages posting your own content but compiling and curating content from other sites and users. It is interesting to see that blogs are also a collection of content either for the curator’s own perusal or to share their interests with other people. With tools such as embedding and retweeting I wonder if we lose the links and connections between websites and if this means the Web has become a less interactive space than before. I wonder how blogging will change from here onwards!!

Now, for my own blog I’ve picked the Eighties theme because I love the idea of hidden sidebars, I feel like it makes my page look less cluttered. The header is a photo I took while I was at Li Jiang which showed the various notes left in a restaurant from travellers and I’ve picked a complementary green scheme to go with it. I’ve used the right sidebar to add widgets and the bottom is for people to view other lovely blogs and posts! I’ll probably fidget with the layout of my blog more as time go by but I think I am pretty pleased with it for now!