Interview with Molly Holzschlag
Molly talks about the dismal Web economy, the Web Standards Project and the role of women in I.T.
Tell us about the WoW and your role in it.
WOW is World Organization of Webmasters. It was started by Bill Cullifer, who had a very successful career with AT&T and tells a story of being out on the golf course one day with his buddies thinking "is this all there is?" With a passion for technology and a real desire to do good in the world, he began WOW almost six years ago to support Web professionals in finding educational resources, community, and certification. WOW certifications are astonishingly difficult and are exhaustively created and reviewed regularly by Subject Matter Experts and Instructional Designers. My own role is very varied-I help with general communications, editorial, content, Web site management, conference planning, and I serve as a speaker and certification trainer as well. It's a non-profit organization, so I wear a lot of hats. My personal favourite jobs within the org are conference planning and curriculum development for K12, technical schools, and Universities. The idea that work WOW is doing is contributing to the high quality education of Web professionals is really gratifying.
As well as being in the WoW, writing 25 books, talking at conferences and being the Arizona State Coyote Wrestling Champion, you're in the Web Standards Project. How did that come about?
Rumours about wrestling coyotes are all untrue, and I've written 27 books to date, which I believe, like doing too many LSD trips, qualifies me as insane. The reason I joined WaSP is because Zeldman asked me to.
Now that AOL have adopted IE for a further 7 years, and Microsoft have decided to abandon the Mac browser altogether, is there any point in the WaSP?
Have you looked at Content Managment Systems lately? Or the .NET framework? There are problems related to standards that go far, far beyond browsers and into other software and development issues. While WaSP is most noted for its work in helping improve standard support for Web browsers and software tools such as Dreamweaver MX, there's a heck of a lot more work to be done.
You've just written "CSS: The Designer's Edge" (soon to be reviewed on DMXzone.com), with Eric Meyer as technical editor. What's the focus of the book?
As the title might imply, it's a book that teaches CSS to designers. Well - to everyone, but with a bent on providing an educated understanding of the language of CSS and how it applies to design.
You're starting a CSS tutorial non DMXzone.com next week. Tell us about that.
It's a set of tutorials for designers, people who have a design in mind and want to build it from scratch in CSS. We'll be looking at some of the great designs out there, learning how to build, and - on the way- pick up the knowledge through the act of doing the job.
Do people ask for your autograph?
Daily, when they hand me credit card slips.
I once saw your Color For WebSites book in the bookshop at the Tate gallery in London - possibly the only technical book ever to be offered for sale in an art gallery. How does that make you feel?
I remember you emailed me about this and I got so excited I had to call my Mom, if you can imagine. "Mom, one of my books is in the bookshop at the TATE!" That was a big moment and when a grown woman has to immediately call her mother to relate the news, well, you gotta know it felt really, really good.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=Amish, 10=Star trek convention attendee), how geeky are you?
It depends on the time of the day. When I'm working, I can achieve an almost 10 level of geekdom. But I'm one of those people who became a geek late and life. I started out as a party girl, and somehow can't quite shake that. And I probably really need to be both.
|"I started out a party girl, and became a geek."
What's the first website you ever made? What's your favourite site you've ever worked on?
Aside from doing HTML for various aspects of GEnie in 1993, the first site I ever made was my own home page (on a server long gone) in 1994. My favourite site to have worked on has to be WebReview. The reason is because I worked with such a great team, worked with top of the line designers, developers, writers, editors, visionaries - I can't even begin to express how much fun that year and a half of my life was. It felt like we were changing the world and the world was loving us for our contributions. It was a great, great time and I'd love to feel that way again. The loss of WebReview has been linked in some ways to my own feelings of displacement over the past several years.
The glass - half-empty, or half-full?
Depends how far away the bartender is standing.