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Archive: 'The Web Behind' Category

Audio Waves

As the year draws to a close, I have a few bits of podcast news to help fill the lonely hours between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The first is that Jen and I have done two more “The Web Behind” episodes since the last time I mentioned it, and they were both really fun.  Back on November 28th, I interviewed Tom Bruce of the Cornell Legal Information Institute about the very earliest days of the web, parallels between the arguments then and the arguments now, writing the first Windows web browser more or less from scratch, his invention of marquee, and the time he took a road trip to NCSA with Tim Berners-Lee to help bring cgi-bin to the web.

Then on December 20th, I got Tantek Çelik on the line to discuss how the web is like OpenDoc, why the web didn’t impress him the first time he saw it, the creation and interesting features of Internet Explorer 5 for Mac, how interviewing developers working in the field helped shape IE/Mac and thus the browsers that followed it, and how DOCTYPE switching came to be (and who thought it up).

On the other side of the microphone, I was honored to be the guest for the first episode of Besquare’s “12 Days of Podcasts”, which started on Boxing Day and continues on through the Feast of the Ephiphany.  We talked for just over half an hour about CSS past and future, conferences, how I got started on the web, and ways to land a job in the web industry.  As I publish this, they’re just three episodes into the series, so it’s not too late to jump in.

Happy listening, and a joyous New Year to you and yours!

The Web Behind Turns Five (Shows)

The Web Behind now has five episodes under its belt!  I don’t know why that seems like a milestone worth celebrating, even accounting for the digits-of-my-hand bias humans tend to have, but it does anyway.  I am really, really happy with how the show has been going.  I’ve learned things I didn’t know and been reminded of people and events I’d almost forgotten.  I think the listeners are also learning a lot.

Here’s a list of all five along with the top-line topics that were covered in each one:

  • John Allsopp — early web design tools, community groups that shaped the web, and thinkers from the mid-20th century who shaped hypertext and the Web
  • Steve Champeon — predecessors to HTML, the webdesign-L online community, the birth of the web standards project, and how he coined the term “progressive enhancement”
  • Dave Shea — the CSS Zen Garden, the origins and lasting effects of the CSS Sprites technique, and reminisces about the web design community of a decade ago
  • Molly Holzschlag — what it was like to be online in the time of BBSes, Gopher, and the text-only web, early accessibility, the blink tag, the Web Standards Project, and how Microsoft started embracing web standards
  • Chris Wilson — the origins of the Mosaic Browser, Internet Explorer 3 and 4, the origins of CSS, and how * html is even possible

If you follow those links, you’ll land on each show’s 5by5 page, which has all of the links that were collected by listeners on the livestream as the shows were being recorded.  Those alone constitute some fascinating material, and they’re that much better as hypermedia adjuncts to the episodes—as you listen to a show, follow the link as it comes up so that you can see the thing we’re talking about as we talk about it.  The future, man!

Those links are a measure of just how awesome our listeners are, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you.  If you’re one of said listeners, please comment here so you can be publicly recognized.  Your efforts are making every interview even more valuable than they are on their own.  You are helping us identify and preserve important information about the history of the web.  You are making the whole endeavor even better than I could have imagined.  Thank you for believing in what we’re doing.  Thank you for pushing us to new heights.  Thank you.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the episodes, now is the perfect time to get caught up.  And if I could ask a personal favor of you iTunes subscribers: if you like an episode, please give it a good rating.  If you’re feeling particularly effusive, a comment would be great as well.  Why do I ask, you ask?  Because ratings and comments help shows bubble up to the top of the heap in the iTunes Store, and that brings in more listeners.  More listeners means more sponsorship income, which means we can think about doing shows more often.

We’d actually really like to do that.  I have a list of almost fifty potential guests, and there have to be some I’m missing.  I really want to hear their stories and bring them to you as quickly as possible.  With increased sponsorship, we can make that happen.  If you feel we’ve earned that with what we’ve produced so far, please take a minute to help us get there.  I really appreciate it.

Catching Up: TWB #2 and #3

I’ve been a little bit remiss in keeping up with The Web Behind.  I think that’s irony?  Or maybe it’s just a bummer.

Anyway, the second episode, starring Steve Champeon, was recorded and released last week.  Hear about SGML and HTML, progressive enhamcement, the inside and little-known story of the WaSP’s success, and more.  I learned at least one thing I had never heard before, and Steve’s just a fun guy to talk to regardless of topic, so hopefully you’ll find it as interesting as I did.

Next week, we’ll be recording our third guest, Dave Shea, on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 17th (a week from today!).  In addition to being a pretty darned fantastic designer, Dave is of course the mastermind behind the groundbreaking CSS Zen Garden.  We’ll spend our time talking about that and other products of Dave’s brilliance, like CSS Sprites and Chalkwork Icons, as well as find out what he’s been doing of late.  Jen and I hope you’ll join us!

The Web Behind #1

Last Thursday was the first episode of The Web Behind, which was also episode #35 of The Web Ahead, and I couldn’t really have been much happier with it.  John Allsopp made it brilliant by being brilliant, as always.  To spend 80 minutes talking with someone with so much experience and insight will always be an act of pure joy. and we were beyond thrilled that he used the occasion to announce his Web History Timeline Project—a web-based timline which anyone can enrich by easily adding milestones.

The episode is up on 5by5, where there are a whole bunch of links to things that came up in the conversation; as well as on iTunes—so pick your favorite channel and listen away!  If you are an iTunes listener, Jen and I would be deeply grateful if you could give the show a quick review and rating, but please don’t feel that you’re somehow obligated to do so in order to listen!  We’ll be more than happy if people simply find all this as interesting as we do, and happier still if you find the shows interesting enough to subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Guests are lining up for the next few shows, which will come about once every other week.  Jen is preparing a standalone web site where we’ll be able to talk about new and upcoming episodes, have a show archive, provide show information and wiki pages, and much more.  Great stories and perspectives are being uncovered.  Exciting times!

John Allsopp to Inaugurate ‘The Web Behind’

Jen Simmons and I are very pleased to announce that our first guest on The Web Behind will be none other than John Allsopp.

Hailing from Sydney, Australia, John by himself has seen and done more on the web than most web teams put together.  First encountering the web in the early 1990s, he built one of the very first CSS tools, Style Master, and a number of other web development tools; published a wealth of information like support charts and free courses; wrote the deeply insightful and far-seeing article “A Dao of Web Design”; influenced the course of the Web Standards Project; and founded a successful international conference series that continues to this day.

We’re incredibly excited to have John as our inaugural guest, and hope you’ll join us for the live recording this Thursday, September 20th at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.  That’s also Friday, September 21st at 8am Sydney time, and 2200 UTC if you want to calculate your own local offsets.  The time zone dance is the reason we’re recording the first show at that particular time.  Moving forward, the plan is to record on Wednesdays, usually mid-afternoon (US Eastern) but sometimes in the morning—again, depending on the time zones of our guests.

Be able to say you were there when it all started:  please join us for the live recording, and subscribe to get the finished podcasts as they’re released.  We already have some great guests lined up for subsequent shows—more on that as we firm up dates and times—and some interesting plans for the future.  We really hope you’ll be there with us!

The Web Behind

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.

July 2014
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