Learning Javascript

About This Journey…

In 1957 the Supreme Court moved to desegregate American public schools. One key factor in that decision was the famous ‘Doll Test’ devised by Dr. Kenneth Clark. Dr. Clark gave young black children two dolls to play with – one black, one white – and asked them a series of questions about each doll. The experiment revealed that racial segregation caused major psychological damage to children’s self-image, and that the doctrine of “separate but equal” was a charade which the Supreme Court moved to strike down in their historic Brown v. Board of Education Ruling.

For years I worked at a Civil Rights group where I was in charge of updating and maintaining the organization’s website. I also tried to push the idea of re-creating the doll test within an app that children could try in schools around the country. With modern technology you could track the interactions by location, based on age, income, neighborhood etc, giving a more detailed picture of how segregation impacts youths today.

Unfortunately, app developers don’t come cheap, and the costs were too prohibitive to seriously consider.

Never one to admit defeat I decided to learn programming in order to create a doll test app and bring to light the continuing segregation in public schools. But aside from that narrow purpose I’ve always had an interest in technology, and always felt an urge to create software that looked and behaved as I wanted. For example I hate every to do list app I’ve tried, they’re all so ugly. Wish I could make my own. I hate my note taking app, my email client, they all feel clunky to me – I want to make my own.

But I’m a complete noob. I know HTML/CSS from messing around many years ago and can create a static website from scratch. But when it comes to javascript and programming in general, I know nothing. (I’ve copied and pasted code but really I know nothing).

But all that is about to change. I want to learn to program and create applications from scratch. I want to be able to have an idea and bring it into the real world after an afternoon of coding. This blog is going to document that journey. I will post my progress in Javascript as I code. My first blog posts will contain simple, small “hello world” programs, and progress until I can build complete applications from scratch. Eventually, as a definitive test of the effectiveness of this journey, I will apply for a job as a junior developer with a proper agency.


Eventually I hope to become a full stack Javascript developer, and these days developers don’t seem to code much in vanilla Javascript, instead they use jQuery for front end interactions, and a plethora of differnt frameworks to quickly get started building amazing applications.

I want to get there eventually, but I really want to understand programming first. For that I want to know how to build apps from scratch with Javascript, Ruby, Python, PHP (JS first of course). Without that foundation I know I will feel like I’m “cheating” the entire time and I will feel like my ability to create things will be too dependent on having some kind of framework or cheat sheet within arms-length.

So this will all be pure javascript for the most part. Once I can build what I really want I will start to move on to speeding up my development with time-savers like jQuery etc…

Wish me luck! –