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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) April 13, 2000


This newsletter sponsored by: Searchbutton.com, Allaire, NetMechanic and Affliate Solutions


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Now with over 95800 subscribers!

http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. SUBMIT & WIN: Director 8 Shockwave Studio Giveaway Complete! 2. FEATURED INTERVIEW: Molly Holzschlag, and the Human Side of the Web

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. SUBMIT & WIN: Director 8 Shockwave Studio Giveaway Complete!

Every Thursday, the Update features a new article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. We encourage you to submit your own article ideas - your words could be here, being read by thousands of other subscribers.

This week, Maura "Chip" Yost returns again, with an interview with Molly Holzschlag. Molly is a prolific Web author, instructor, and designer. In this interview, the two discuss technology and the sometimes overlooked human side of the Web.

Thanks for the interview Chip, and enjoy your copy of the Director 8 Shockwave Studio. This was our last week for giving away copies of the Director 8 Shockwave Studio package, so we'd also like to extend thanks to the folks at Macromedia for providing this great Web Dev package, and to everyone that submitted their article proposals. Keep your eyes peeled for a new Submit & Win contest coming soon!


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\--------------------------------------------------------------adv.-/ ****************************************************************** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED INTERVIEW: Molly Holzschlag, and the Human Side of the Web

"The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live." Those are the words of Ethel Percy Andrus (1884-1967), though they exemplify the living philosophy of Molly Holzschlag, prolific Web author, instructor, and designer. Molly and I met at WebChicago, held at the beautifully refurbished Navy Pier convention center overlooking Lake Michigan. Join me for a cordial conversation with Molly, honored as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Women on the Web, for her witty and humanistic reflections on Web origins, trends, changing job skills, technology education, impacts, languages, and inspiration. Molly's latest book, "Teach Yourself Adobe Live Motion in 24 Hours" (SAMS) will be available in May.

Chip: How did you get started with all this?

Molly: My academic training includes a bachelors degree in Writing and Communications and a Masters in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research. When I was studying for my Masters, New School was using the Internet and doing things online already. But the Web as we know it was still very young; this was 1991-92. I had some interesting classes, like Online Journalism. I mean in 1991, who else was thinking about this stuff? So I had a pretty progressive education.

The other start was that I was already working online. I had been involved with online communities, mostly at Genie, which was at one time the largest online commercial service and is now defunct. When they began to build their Internet gateway I sort of got handed the hat. They said "hey, we need people to be our Web masters, go learn this new markup language, HTML."

I was working recently with a guy named Derrick Story, who was the outgoing Managing Editor of Web Review (http://www.webreview.com/) and is now at O'Reilly Networks, and I was incoming as interim Managing Editor for WR. At one of our planning meetings, he said something very striking to me along the lines of "when we were growing up, we were being trained for the Internet even though we didn't know it." Isn't that an interesting perspective? When he said that, I said "well, that's true, that's really true."

The way I always put it was that I was on a street corner and got hit by a bus, but I had all the right credentials and that's how I survived. I had the right stuff, whatever that means! I could do a little of this, and a little of that, and a little of something else. I could design a little bit, I could certainly communicate well, I could write well, I had visual design experience, and a love of technology, and of course this culminated into my work on and with the Web.

Chip: Those are the elements...

Molly: Certainly. It's changing, though. When we were kids, there was no such thing as: "I want to be a Web designer when I grow up." But now, that does exist, so that's changing the whole dynamic into something new.

Chip: I've seen, as you probably have, too, pages by 12-year-old girls that are just phenomenal.

Molly: I have a close alliance with a 16-year old designer in Germany, named Tobias Horvath. I met him last year, when he was only 15, and this guy is doing phenomenal work. His visual designs...he has no background, he doesn't come from a family that supports this, he's not getting supported at school, he's learned everything on his own, books and online. He has a native skill, and I'm not talking good, I'm talking really good. It's just an awesome thing.

Chip: I feel as though I have so much to catch up on.

Molly: (Chuckling)...Me, too!

Chip: Well, I think that's one thing that attracts people to the Web, people who like to keep learning things.

Molly: Absolutely!

Chip: And I think we're seeing that with WebTV, all the alternate types of devices [for Web access]. On the one hand, it's really awesome, scary in a sense.

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Molly: Well, isn't it interesting that when I used the word "scary" today in a conference presentation, many people admitted that they were, in fact, scared? The truth of the matter is that it's all so overwhelming! It's been my experience that people come to me and tell me they are afraid. They are concerned they are going to lose their edge, lose their jobs, that they don't understand these technologies, can't keep up.

>From a technologist's perspective, I'm very interested in seeing technology move forward. From a humanitarian perspective, and a person who has been on the Internet long enough to remember the grassroots ideologies that early online communities had, it is something that gives me great pause. I have to think about it and say: "OK, this is great! I love the technology! I love where it's going AND what about the grassroots community, humanity, global communication, empowerment, that we are setting aside in the name of growth, commerce, marketing, and so forth?"

Part of my concern about how younger people are being educated about technology is that they are not being educated in the humanities, nor are they being educated enough in the sociological impact of technology. I've come across many people who are afraid of technology and who will make a strong argument that computers "have put me out of my job."

It's not that clear cut as that. However, there's a point made there that needs to be examined. The computer is an inert object; it's the people, and how we decide to use it, that make the difference. I think that part of the reason there are starving people in the world is not that we don't have enough food (I can't imagine how much food Las Vegas throws out every a day; you could probably feed several countries on that alone!) but that we don't distribute that food appropriately. So, when you think about that, it is not an issue of what we don't have, it's an issue of how we distribute it, and we're not paying attention to that. The Web is a perfect distribution means. We can use this to create that infrastructure. Are we doing that? In a limited way, perhaps...

Chip: Well, www.hungersite.com...

Molly: Exactly!

Chip: But, maybe some of that will come. That's a good idea!

Molly: Yes, but somebody somewhere, some organization has to make it so. It isn't going to happen, computers aren't going to figure this out on their own. People have to make it that way. At least for the foreseeable future, I don't believe these machines are going to be more intelligent than we are and automatically distribute food! We have to do the feeding, the caring, the nurturing. We, the people, have to do it.

Chip: Are you aware of www.novica.com? It's a site for world artists, brought together under the umbrella of an organization that provides the means for these artists to sell their goods around the world. The organization operates this Web site, takes care of the currency exchange and other business services.

Molly: That's the kind of thing I love to hear about, but how often do you hear about that, versus the new startup, the new IPO, or who got the venture capital funding? It's not a problem with the Web, it's a problem with how people are. Here's my concern: you look at the different media, every media that exists, be it a newspaper article, a radio show, a television show, all have the exact same potential. All of these media could be used for global improvement and sometimes they are, but for the most part, they're not.

I'd hate to see the Web turn into that because the Web is still the one [media] that is accessible to most people in technologically advanced societies and even in some that are not. So I have to say, there is something different with the Web, and I hate to see it being swept under the rug. And I also have to say that in the last two years I am seeing it get swept under the rug, or swept aside in the name of e-commerce.

Chip: Well, yes, and I think that is part of the genesis of "The Cluetrain Manifesto", because that is central to their real message, that the Web is about real people speaking in their own real voices to other people.

Molly: Right. What I want to do is to express my desire to have people think before they act as well as providing legitimate technology education.

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Chip: I think I saw that you are involved with some youth activities at Covenant House.

Molly: Yes, Bill Cullifer of World Organization of Webmasters and I, with support from CMP Miller Freeman, the organization sponsoring these Web conferences, have done some inner-city school work. Bill figures out which inner-city organizations in a given city have some really interested, transitional, at-risk youth. These kids are usually between the ages of 14 and 20 who have been in some sort of at-risk setting, possibly for drug use, gang lifestyle, or they come from impoverished or disadvantaged situations.

We go in and teach those who have proven an interest in the Web in their youth programs. We do what we call a "Web Fair." We've received support from Adobe and from CMP Miller Freeman to just go into inner-city schools and have a day. I have never in my life been so profoundly moved by a group of people as some of these at-risk youth. They are so hungry for knowledge, for love, for all the things that human beings are hungry for, but even more so because of what they have been through. While I wasn't from an impoverished background, I do have some things to say to them. But, boy do they have a lot of things to say to me!

And that's even more important. I walk away so enriched, it's just unbelievable! And it's just an honor to be able to give to the world something like that. To see the light come on in their eyes, and just watch it happen, to see some of them take it.

It's so profoundly moving to see how people can really make a choice and get excited about this, and find a place for themselves and make it work. It's very inspirational! That's something I'm doing that I'm really proud of, that brings a lot of joy to my life. And I'm very grateful to those organizations that have been supportive, because we go in there by the skin of our teeth - no funding. I do all the support I can, I follow-up with these kids, get the books (sometimes my publishers will give me the books, or I will buy them). It's a very grassroots, slow movement, but I think we're starting something.


As Molly and I parted, I knew that I had met an exceptional person, one whose sphere of influence far exceeds the World Wide Web. There are those who are only ready to carry the stool when the piano needs to be moved. Molly isn't one of them.

About the Interviewer:

Maura "Chip" Yost's interest in computers began when she received a Commodore 64 for Christmas, which at the time she considered the electronic equivalent of a lump of coal. She worked for over 11 years as an employment specialist and workshop presenter, and holds an advanced degree in training. Chip has contributed several open publishing articles to Webreference.

You can contact Chip at: john@dataplusnet.com

About Molly Holzschlag:

With almost 10 years of experience working online, Molly has authored or co-authored 12 books on HTML, Adobe GoLive, Perl and other Web Design topics, and is a regular contributor to several Web development sites, including Builder.com, IBM developerWorks, WebTechniques and DesignShops.com.

You can find out about Molly Holzschlag at: http://www.molly.com


That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com ecook@internet.com

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