Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eric Explains URLs (video)

I'm teaching a course entitled "The Nature of Knowledge" and we're specifically focusing on what happens to knowledge in a digitized, networked environment. I gave the class a "technology inventory" survey to complete and the hardest question on it proved to be identifying the top-level domain of a given URL. As such, I made this video to explain URLs a little bit more in-depth.


I didn't do a particularly good job of explaining a few things in this video. I want to make it clear that it's not a flawless intro. Hopefully I can remake it sometime, but for now here are some caveats:

  • What does a scheme mean? I introduce two of them but don't describe their implications, i.e. that they're transfer protocols.
  • Subdomains are basically everything in the domain that's not the TLD. I don't think that's clear from my example.
  • Search can literally be a file, e.g. search.php, search.html, search.pdf (though that wouldn't have a query string). I know that the idea of URLs pointing to files is mostly an antiquated idea in the days of database-driven CMSs & web frameworks like Ruby on Rails. But it's a good starting point to learn more about them.
  • Google is a bad example. I knew that but I didn't realize quite how poor, because Google doesn't use a ? to distinguish the query string, oddly enough, so a Google search actually contradicts how I'm describing a query string.

Anything I missed? Open to criticism but I hope this is a decent overview despite its flaws.

Also, I have a git repo of the site I made to demonstrate the different pieces, totally willing to share if someone wants it.

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