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HTML

I often think that a person with my characteristics could have easily become a nerd. One of those people who can fiddle with computer code, and maybe work as a web designer like a lot of friends I’ve made: creative people but at the same time totally up-to-date.

I even did that for a while, and made two or three websites. I did my research.

When I was little, and my father had given me a Commodore 128, the language used was called Basic and it seemed inaccessible to me. It was in the hands of a group of initiates with whom there was no way of coming into contact. So I gave up immediately. But one day I saw Dad holding the computer manual in his hand, and page after page, unhurriedly studying the principles of the code. And that was enough to start using it.

Observing the simplicity of that gesture, studying in order to act, had such a strong impact that it shaped my attitude towards knowledge. For a long time I lived in the certainty that it was enough to patiently study something to master it, to enter the caste of the initiates of whatever you wanted.

In general, I think this is still the case, although my adult experience with computer code has confronted me with almost insurmountable limits. Can a humanist, as I have become, really learn to tinker with code and tailor-make the style of his own websites? Maybe he could, if he decided to devote a lot of time to it. For a few years I tried, I read up on it, but the ratio between the effort employed and the results was discouraging.

So I gave up, and every time I see a real nerd at work, I have the feeling that I could never be like him: it’s as if he doesn’t only know procedures, but a real language that says nothing to me: that language allows him to communicate with the machine and get results. In this sense, the name ‘languages’ given to the various codes is very appropriate. Learning those languages actually seems to open up wonderful new horizons, just like learning a foreign language.

And like a foreign language, it is possible, but it requires a huge commitment of effort, frustration, time and money.

Now that I have several microblogs active on the Tumblr platform, I occasionally try to make them prettier, more aesthetically similar to how I would like them. And when I do, I feel very close to the level of a complete beginner, as if I haven’t learned anything in all these years.

In fact I’ve learned almost nothing, but that’s no reason to give up: I have to work on this almost, because in my relationship with the machine it’s all I have.

Fortunately you can use many free prefabricated styles, and then, with trial and error, try to modify them. For example there’s the bizarre macOS Sierra Theme which presents items as if they were each a different OS window. In general, however, I like those that display lots of posts side by side in small boxes, so that your microblog looks like a mosaic or a noticeboard of post-it notes.

My favourite is called Minimalism.

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