Digital Culture

The path to learning starts…

…when you realize you know nothing.


I’m actively working as a “web specialist” for whatever that title is worth. But when I read about things like ajax web development, or PHP image functions, or even just browse through Justin’s blog and see what some people are doing with web design (this site is unreal…transparency, animated background, variable graphics on posts, and all with XHTML and Javascript…no Flash or other plugin necessary. All that is necessary is a standards compliant browser [sorry IE]). I could no more write this stuff than juggle elephants. I feel like I understand it, and I can champion it, even find novel ways to use it and instruct people about it…but I feel like I should learn how to DO it. Any tips on teaching a logical but otherwise underqualified web guy how to learn ajax, or even javascript in general?

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

5 replies on “The path to learning starts…”

ha. i was just about to leave a comment with the 11 things… link as another suggestion, but thought, hmm non-round number, what are the chances that was one of things jason linked to in that post of his?

Javascript is the easiest one to start with. A wonderful place to is Javascript Source , which gives you both an idea of the range of programming you can do with JS and sample scripts to tailor to your use. That’s how I did my masters project and Brad’s work when I knew nothing about Javascript for form validation.

And of course there’s WebMonkey for the basics.

Honestly though, unless you truly need to know how to program from scratch, don’t bother. The learning curve is steep unless you’re a programming natural, and there will always be someone who can do it better. That’s why I just use and credit their scripts :).

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