Whenever I meet a new person and we get to talking about our personal lives, one of the things that seems to surprise people the most, besides the fact that I live in Cleveland and not in New York City or San Francisco, is that I have a Bachelor’s of Art in History. The closest I came to Computer Science was a minor concentration in Artifical Intelligence, and in all honesty it was more of a philosophical study.
To me, history is vital. As a species, we’ve made a plethora of mistakes and done myriad things right, and the record (and outcomes) of those successes and failures can tell us a great deal about how we got to where we are as well as where we might go. (Also, from a narrative standpoint, history is the greatest and most authentic story we’ve ever told—even the parts that are untrue.) The combination of that interest and my ongoing passion for the web is what led me to join the W3C’s recently formed Web History Community Group, where efforts to preserve (digital) historical artifacts are slowly coalescing.
But even more importantly, it’s what has led me to establish a new web history podcast in association with Jen Simmons of The Web Ahead. The goal of this podcast, which is a subset of The Web Ahead, is to interview people who made the web today possible. The guests will be authors, programmers, designers, vendors, toolmakers, hobbyists, academics: some whose names you’ll instantly recognize, and others who you’ve never heard of even though they helped shape everything we do. We want to bring you their stories, get their insights and perspectives, and find out what they’ve been doing of late. The Mac community has folklore.org; I hope that this podcast will help start to build an similar archive for the web. You can hear us talk about it a bit on The Web Ahead #34, where we announce our first guest as well as the date and time for our first show! (Semi-spoiler: it’s next week.)
Jen and I have took to calling this project The Web Behind in our emails, and the name stuck. It really is a subset of The Web Ahead, so if you’re already subscribed to The Web Ahead, then episodes of The Web Behind will come to you automatically! If not, and you’re interested, then please subscribe! We already have some great guests lined up, and will announce the first few very soon.
I haven’t been this excited about a new project in quite some time, so I very much hope you’ll join Jen and me (and be patient as I relearn my radio chops) for a look back that will help to illuminate both our present and our future.