I went to NYU to be in advertising. Even though there was no Mad Men then, I pictured myself storyboarding my way through college and walking out with killer reel to kick start my career on Madison Avenue – only a few blocks away. NYU’s course catalog supported these assumptions with descriptions of classes where you actually got to shoot your own commercials.

NYU had a phone registration system for classes. When it opened, I called it from my dorm room, and entered the code for the first class. I was disappointed when the robo-voice said, “This class has been cancelled.”  I was devastated when the next 5 advertising class codes resulted in the same message. It turned out that the entire program had been cancelled.

Scrambling for direction, I searched the course catalog and settled on the communications program. To compliment the compromise, I learned the advertising trade in practice at my internships. I was often exasperated at the antiquated content of my classes, with topics such as Rotogravure printing.

Then I had a to take a couple of classes titled Scanners 1 and Scanners 2 – and I assumed that meant NYU thought that learning to scan needed two semesters. They turned out to be the two classes that made my entire degree worthwhile. I knew on day one, when the teacher introduced herself and said she worked at the Gartner Group, a technology think tank, that I was going to learn something valuable.

Scanners 1 should have been called Web development 101. We learned HTML. We learned how to produce web graphics in Photoshop, animate a gif, and I actually built a portfolio website for my artwork. Scanners 2 should have been called CD-Rom authoring. There was a time when a rich media experiences couldn’t be hosted online because they wouldn’t fit through a 22KB/second modem (the things that made the screetching-beeping sounds). My class project was a video and music experience for Tom’s band. It was gorgeous – full of rollovers and other little interactive surprises.

The combination of these two classes gave me the deep experience in interactivity to be able to build websites from scratch for clients, before I even graduated. It got me internships at Funny Garbage and at The Criterion Collection, working on websites like David Burn’s music label Luaka Bop, and early DVD menus for The Seven Samurai and Robocop. I could have kept working for either of these companies and made a real name for myself in the interactive world, but no. I was still in lust with advertising – idiot.

Anytime my advertising career stalled, and as print continued to die, I fell back on HTML. And here I am now, working at Pop, one of the best interactive agencies in the country. My foundation in Web development has always given me an edge. I would never call myself a developer, but I can  look under the hood and fix things for friends, like a retired auto-mechanic. So even though I tried to run from making websites, like designers run from Powerpoint, it was an inevitable destiny.

This was my 11th post for #NaBloPoMo and was inspired by the prompt given to me yesterday by Laura. Here is what’s next:

Prompt #11 (Nov 12) They say that each person has three places (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place): The first is your home, the second is your work, and the third is your place in the community that you go to foster a more creative and connected life. What is your third place and where is it?

One thought on “HTML was My Fallback

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