Adventures in Acquiring Knowledge

martha cinader

in the last few weeks and months we have been making a transition from being a weekly newspaper with a print focus and fledgling website, to a weekly website with a monthly print companion publication. in the process, i as the editor (and co-publisher with my husband tony mims), of both forms of the publication, have been spending some long hours studying and investigating web culture and technology.
i’ve always had a cavalier attitude toward higher education that i still can’t seem to shake. i think it’s because i never liked the idea of an exclusive club. when i was a teenager in new york city, back in the seventies, there was a popular nightclub called studio 54. the gimmick was that you could only go in if the people at the door gave you the stamp of approval. you could be refused entry because your hairdo wasn’t right, or your shoes weren’t allowed. that kind of thing made me want to go in the other direction. but there were many people who thronged to the door hoping to get in. there were vip’s who thought they were special because they weren’t required to undergo inspection. in my mind applying to a major university or any college at all was no different. how could anyone deny me some fun on my night out, or deny me in my pursuit of knowledge at any time? there is no university that can prevent me from learning what i need to know, so why should i be concerned whether or not they want me around?
while the government searches for ways to tax us for using what is so far the ultimate source of free knowledge, i continue to proceed with my technical education. like so many other people seeking Information of all kinds, i traverse threads of the world wide web for the information i need to accomplish a particular task. it is a challenge not to get lost in the ongoing weaving, and i get tangled up at times, but i have hung on, and in this manner have acquired a few morsels to satisfy my search. everything that i have learned how to do on the World Wide Web i have learned from the World Wide Web. i never took a class or read a book. that just appeals to my freedom loving nature, and i do hope that this vast library, becomes more accessible to more people, instead of less.
my latest investigation has been into the best way to present multiple menu options, when some menu items have two sub-categories. here’s an example: we offer guides to various kinds of local businesses. so the first category is “guides”. the second category is the type of business; “restaurants”. the third category is the type of restaurant, “coffee shop” would be one choice. since my goal is to make navigating our site as intuitive and simple as possible, i was searching for the quickest and easiest route for someone in search of a coffee shop in our guides to find one. if they could do it in one click that would be best of all.
in the process of fulfilling that goal i have learned how to do simple css coding, i have found some freeware that simplified the creation of a javascript code for a pop-down menu with subcategories. it also allows me to place a menu on a framed page that opens pages in another part of the frame. i incorporated what i learned into yet another redesign of the site. Now instead of loading a new page of options every time a reader chooses a category, the thing for which you are searching is reachable with one click.
now it is up to you, our readers, to test it out and let me know how it works for you. i’m going to move on to a new goal for next week, and hope to create a little Peace and Poetry along the way.

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