A Web Development Reading List

When I’m teaching web development, I often give students a reading list of some of my favorite articles from people who write about the web, technology, and programming in general. I try to include articles that are seminal and influential, articles that have made significant contributions to new web development concepts or are a clear milestone expressing a piece of the history of web development, but often they’re simply articles that I enjoy a lot.

This benefits students by introducing them to specific writers who are leaders in the field and by giving them better understanding of the history of web development and why certain principles like progressive enhancement or semantic markup are still important as a primary value of the web. It also gives them a framework for making better technological decisions based on the key themes and arguments within the history and philosophy of web development.

Here’s the list, organized into a few categories. There is a general history and philosophy of the web reading list, followed by lists for specific debates within the industry (just one right now). Please let me know if you have any suggestions for pieces to add to the list.

Web Development: History and Philosophy

The web is a field defined by the ideas and values of those who create it. This reading list explores the history of thought that has shaped the web and the philosophical debates visible in the design of the network, and connects those ideas to both the overall architects of the web and the day-to-day practitioners who define web culture through their words and code.

The Free Web

The World Wide Web is changing quickly. Nostalgia for the early days of the Internet and questions about the future freedom of information online are growing. What is the web today? How has it changed? What should it have been? What should it be in the future?

I will update this list with suggestions and any other pieces I read that I think are relevant, and I’ll keep it here and on my courses GitHub repository. Again, please let me know on Twitter or GitHub or email if you have any suggestions.


Kevin McGillivray

Kevin McGillivray is a web developer, painter, and writer in Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, online and offline neighborhoods, and vegetables. He paints and dives.

Letters in bottles

Signal your address to receive my infrequent newsletters in a bottle where I write about treasures, tales, and deep dive dispatches.