Since this is the special education issue (umm, not the *special* education issue, not that you all aren't special, butů nevermind), I thought I'd take a few paragraphs to rant a little bit about education, learning, the internet, and stuff like that. I may even get around to giving you some websites where you can teach yourself stuff, so keep reading.
I am a firm believer in learning about things, though I'm not necessarily that hip on education. Though I do have a college degree, I don't see college as the place where I learned most of what I know and enjoy - that is, the DIY aspects of punk rock, and my involvement with computers. Most of that kind of stuff was self-taught. By figuring things out for myself, reading books and fanzines, and asking people who already knew what they were doing for advice.
Actually, when you think about it, punk rock is really about educating yourself on how to do things and how to think about things. Whether it be playing in a band, running a record label, screen printing t-shirts, putting out a fanzine, or any other DIY endeavor, it pretty much involves learning how to do things, and then doing them. Nobody's gonna do it for you, and, more often than not, nobody's gonna show you exactly how to do things. You learn by checking out other zines, other bands, other labels, etc, and then following by example, figuring out things as you go along. Also, punk also (hopefully) teaches you to think for yourself, and educates you to some of the bullshit that is out there in Amerikkka. It's all about learning, kids, whether you want to admit it or not.
Well, in the same way that you can learn about how to do punk things, you can learn how to do computer things. Whether it be putting together a cool looking web page, learning how a computer or internet connection works, or even writing programs, you can figure it all out yourself. How do I know this? Because that's the way I did it. I have taken one computer class my whole life, and that was in 9th grade. Everything else I know I about computers, I taught myself - and now that's how I make my living, helping people get their internet connections working.
So, I guess I'll take some time now to educate you a little bit on building
a web page.
Web pages are written in a code known as HTML - that stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it is really easy to learn. You can get the basic of HTML down in a few hours over the course of one day. All you have to do is find a web page that gives you the basics of HTML, and then look at the code in other peoples' pages to see how they do things. It's really that easy.
As long as you have a computer, the best place on the net to start learning about how to do HTML is NCSA's Beginners Guide to HTML (http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/General/Internet/WWW/HTMLPrimer.html). This will tell you just about everything you need to know to get started. The only other things you need are a text editor (simpletext on Macs and notepad on Windows) and a web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer). To learn HTML without a computer is more difficult, though you could probably do it at your local public library, with the myriad of books that have been published on HTML authoring.
After you visit the NCSA website and learn something about HTML, you can start visiting web pages with your browser. When you see one you like, view the source code by choosing "Page Source" or "View Source" from the menu on your web browser and see how the designer got the page the way they did. See a picture file on the left hand side of the screen? Look at the source code and see what formatting it took to put the picture there. Is there colored text? Again, look in the source and figure it out.
Your first few pages will probably look amateurish, but with practice, you'll become more skillful and will have a killer website for your local scene, your zine, or whatever you want. In addition, after you get a cool website up, you can start hiring yourself out to "THE MAN" and taking his money (to the tune of 50 bucks or more an hour) by designing web pages for him. Learn web design, and you could probably scam by for quite a few years without a "real" job.
In the same way that you can learn computer stuff on the web, you can also learn punk rock stuff - tips for doing fanzines, screen printing, etc. Before I let you go this month, I'm going to mention a few sites for getting some of this info.
The first site is "The Book of Zines". This website gives you tons of information on how to put together both paper and electronic zines, how to get publicity for them, how to publish you own comic book, and much more. If you are wanting to get a zine started, here's a good place to get some idea. You'll find it at http://thetransom.com/chip/zines/ .
If you're interested in silkscreening, I have an article I wrote a couple of years ago for a fanzine on how to do your own silkscreening for extremely cheap (and not terribly professionally either, though it works for making decent looking single color t-shirts). You can find that article at the following URL: http://www.cruzio.com/~hanford/diyshirt.html .
Also at my site I have an article I wrote for Punk Planet on setting up a gig. It is by no means complete, but it is also a good overview of things to think about if you want to try to promote a show. That article is at http://www.cruzio.com/~hanford/diygig.html .
Another okay DIY resource, though it tends to focus too much on the business side of music, is IndieCentre (http://www.csd.net/~muji/indiecentre.html). They have quite a few articles up about how to do stuff, including the Simple Machines guide to putting out records. Check it out.
Okay, so I hope that at least some of these things are worthwhile to you and you can learn something from them. Just remember, if you're interested in it, there's probably information about it on the net - you just have to know where to look.
You can find copies of all my columns - past, present, and future - at http://www.cruzio.com/~hanford/maximum.html . Also, by the time you read this, I should also have columns up by some other of the MRR columnists (those who sent me their columns to put on the web), and there will be a link from that page to the page of the other columnists. Check it out. As always, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me at PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz, CA 95061. Next month: A guide to punk radio on the internet.
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