Skip to content Todd Libby

Molly Holzschlag


[00:00:00] Todd Libby: Welcome to the Front End Nerdery Podcast, a podcast about front end development, design, and other topics. I'm your host Todd Libby. My guest today is someone that I personally owe a debt of gratitude for, and I am elated to have this chance to have you on the podcast today. So, one of my first quote, unquote mentors in web, along with a lot of other people that I had during the early days of the web standards project, following W3C work and all that. I have with me author and the fairy godmother of the World Wide Web Molly Holzschlag.

[00:00:41] Molly, how are you today?

[00:00:43] Molly Holzschlag: I'm delighted to be here. I think people give me far too much credit. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time with a big mouth. That’s pretty much my story sticking to it, but it's a delight to see you, Todd, it's wonderful to be here.

[00:00:59] Todd: It’s, it’s, wonderful to see you as well. So, would you tell the listeners a little bit more about yourself?

[00:01:05] Molly: Well, I'm pretty much a, a about to hit my 59th year cycle around the sun there. So, I came to the technology table later in life than most people would, might imagine considering, you know, the, the volume of intensity. Once I got rolling with it, that I brought to the, to that table. Very, very passionate about, words and semantics and linguistics and writing and literature in my early life.

As well as the meaning of things. I always was fascinated by that. And I had a really, I have a very interesting life story of extremes. you know, the, the dark is very dark, and the light is pure gold. So, I think that by the time I made it to the table of what the World Wide Web was, I was really front loaded with a lot of ideology about what technology and communications meant for people.

And I saw it as an opportunity for global. growth and enhancement and distribution and redistribution of goods and services and supplies and the humanitarian and social and civil rights intersections, and how we have emerged to, you know, see those ideologies as part of our historical reality, 30 years forward.

Where are those ideologies today? And, I have had a very strong, concern that we maintain, some semblance of an ethical ideology about how and what we do on the web today. As my own personal entrance of extremes into that world of communications where dark or light can come and manifest because that's human beings, not technology, not an abstraction, but what we do and what we bring to that table.

So now I continue with that concern of the ethical individual in an open web world. We have a dark web, if you want to call it that we have alternative networks that I believe we need, but this is open web. What is our ethic? What is our code? And I don't think we know the code at all

[00:03:31] Todd: Yeah, yeah, I would agree, yeah.

[00:03:34] Molly: And I mean that in every way possible is not just a double entendre.

[00:03:40] Todd: Right

[00:03:40] Molly: It is a multiple commentary on the code issue of both an ethical standard and a, an awareness of what we really do and why we did and why we have the languages we have and what we've done to them.

[00:03:57] Todd: Yeah.

[00:03:58] Molly: So, I come with a lot of concerns and a passionate fervor for, for civil social awareness in a technical environment.

[00:04:08] Todd: So, my first question then I normally ask my guests is, and I've had a lot of different and very interesting answers to this one. How did you get started in your web development journey?

[00:04:24] Molly: It was, it was a strange little unveiling. again, my interest in, in meaning and language. I began to become more and more educated and pursuing education and cultural anthropology and that it was through actually through cultural anthropology that I met the entire field of linguistics. Once I fell into that, all of my interest in language and all of my interest in meaning became very, very, clear as to how to qualify and quantify what was really interesting me.

And it was all about the meaning of language, the meaning of words, semantic, semiotics, the meaning of signs of symbols, of color. How do these things influence not only design, but every aspect of human communication? This is where I started getting really excited. And when, so I had the, you know, I was talking about the darker side of, of my particular personal life journey.
A lot of that was fraught with very severe medical and behavioral health issues of a profound nature due to life. It happens to people.

[00:05:38] Todd: Yeah, yup

[00:05:38] Molly: And, you know, just a continuum of trauma that has persisted throughout my life has caused a lot of disruptions. And in that, the, the World Wide Web started to, well, first of all, it actually was BBS’s and becoming aware, and disabled early in life.

I was disabled by the time I was 21 from these issues. So, I was pulled out of the, the, the regular world that people were you know, you know, the, the rites of passage that we go through. Graduating school, you know, normal, normal educational processes for higher education. I was not in that environment. It became chaos, but I always knew that education was a solace and the place that I went for, for comfort.

[00:06:29] Todd: Yeah

[00:06:29] And so I began to do that and seek out alternatives in that space. Got involved with BBS’s. Got involved with Gopher at St. John's University. Got involved in all kinds of internet technologies prior to the World Wide Web, because they were focusing on medical outreach. And then I got involved professionally as a writer doing documentation and research for and building Gopher services.

And then it went and spilled into the mass BBS situation with, with you have CompuServe and Prodigy and the era of pre-web communications on MOSS. And that's when I actually ended up becoming the round table, I became the, basically I ran the, the disabilities round table on the General Electric GEnie network back in the day.

And that was my entrée into accessibility and the World Wide Web, because as GEnie began to build a gateway to the internet, somebody said, hey, Molly knows a little bit about that. Send her to learn this thing called Web, whatever that is.

[00:07:39] Todd: Yeah

[00:07:39] Molly: And that was the TCP/IP stock. And that was HTML. And that was in 1993, early, early, probably late 92, actually, but, but

[00:07:50] Todd: Yup

[00:07:50] Molly: falling into where we already had a node here via the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and BIBO white computational physics there, we had our first node on the, on the backbone of the web via CERN and

[00:08:05] Todd: Yeah

[00:08:05] Molly: Tim Berners-Lee. Yeah. So, I somehow ended up right there. I had no intention whatsoever. I had no idea. No clue, no reason, no rhyme

[00:08:15] Todd: Yeah, yup

[00:08:15] Molly: there I was. And you know what, for me, it was just the wonderful opening of the meeting of the semantic and linguistic and cultural brain with finally something. That matched my logic and analysis skills, and I was able to become a hybrid. And that opened the world to me.

[00:08:39] Todd: Yeah

[00:08:39] Molly: And I am grateful for that moment, but I don't understand it at all. I think a lot of my generation could probably say that. There was no intent. There was no what do you want to be when you grow up? Oh, a web developer.

[00:08:56] Todd: Yeah

[00:08:56] Molly: [Inaudible] there wasn't a possibility. So, I mean,

[00:08:59] Todd: Yeah

[00:08:59] Molly: my, my exposure at that point to computation was freaking punch cards.

[00:09:08] Todd: I think it was when I, when I talked to people that got similar starts or, you know, started around that time, it, it, it's usually the same thing. They are just you know, for the lack of a better term, they just fell into it.

[00:09:24] Molly: Yes. And they fell into it in a way that stimulated and expanded who they were.

[00:09:30] Todd: Yeah

[00:09:30] Molly: So, they kept at it. So that was my passion. And I fell in love with that because I had never been supported. This is not, I mean, gender bias. I don't know, men were not the problem a lot of times. I remember having trouble with computation. My logic and analysis is superior, computation, little weak, but you know, fifth grade T religious teacher, females, like, don't worry, honey you'll never need it.

Stop crying. She could have said that. Or she could have taken five minutes at the end of the day and sat with me until I did understand it.

[00:10:09] Todd: Right

[00:10:09] Molly: Which do you think would have served me better?

[00:10:12] Todd: Yeah

[00:10:12] Molly: Obviously not her shutting me down and telling me you'll never need it. Guess what? I need it.

[00:10:18] Todd: Yeah, yeah.

[00:10:19] Molly: We need it.

[00:10:20] Todd: Yeah, yeah

[00:10:22] Molly: I don't know about most people, but a lot of people, I think that came to web development who are not strong mathematicians one way or another, had to go back and teach themselves.

[00:10:33] Todd: That would be me.

[00:10:36] Molly: Yes, I, I

[00:10:37] Todd: Yeah

[00:10:37] Molly: think it's a very common phenomenon and it speaks to the gaps in our current education. There's no rubric,

[00:10:43] Todd: Yeah

[00:10:43] Molly: you know, people come without math, or they come with strong math or they, you know, they're missing pieces that are not their fault.

[00:10:50] Todd: Yeah, and I, when, so just as a quick little story here, when I learned, when I, when I moved from Portland, Maine to a small town in New Hampshire, I saw my first computer in the math room and that was a Commodore PET.

[00:11:15] Molly: [inaudible] Oh, really?

[00:11:21] Todd: A Commodore PET.

[00:11:21] Molly: I remember my C64. I loved that.

[00:11:22] Todd: Yeah, well, my, my family had this, the C64. I ended up, for whatever reason, just packing it all up from downstairs and bringing it right up into my room and there it stayed.

[00:11:37] Molly: I own this computer.

[00:11:37] Todd: And

[00:11:40] Molly: I love it.

[00:11:40] Todd: I, I started learning Commodore BASIC.

[00:11:45] Molly: I love it.

[00:11:45] Todd: When I picked up that manual, I read the manual. And then I took those, Choose Your Own Adventure books. And I started making text-based games out of it,

[00:11:58] Molly: Oh, that is so cool. What a cool legacy Todd, I love it.

[00:12:02] Todd: and I sold the discs to people

[00:12:06] Molly: Oh, that’s hilarious.

[00:12:06] Todd: that had computers.

[00:12:08] Molly: Oh my God.

[00:12:08] Todd: So, I guess I was a little entrepreneur back then.

[00:12:10] Molly: You must've been talking about those OG original floppy five recorders.

[00:12:16] Todd: Yes. Yep.

[00:12:16] Molly: The ones that went like this

  • Molly pretends to hold a floppy disc and fan it *

[00:12:18] Todd: Yep, and so when I started getting into graphics and the math side, that was hard because I didn't have that piece.

[00:12:27] Molly: You didn’t have that, yeah.

[00:12:29] Todd: Yeah

[00:12:30] Molly: And yet look at the look at this is what worked in my brain was the fact that when you look at linguistics, linguistics is the science of language,

[00:12:38] Todd: Yeah

[00:12:38] Molly: the math and science and language. So, you're not looking at it so much as I'm going, I mean, there are certain, there are so many areas of linguistics that, you know, are so deep sciences and arts of themselves. It's hard to just generalize. But for the most part, when you look at linguistics, you not, you, you know, the job that I have, there's certain things that I was exposed to.

They do not look, you know, when you take a sentence or you look at a language, you're not necessarily learning a language to speak it. You're learning the structure. The way that this piece goes here, in order to get this logical result, you're looking at math. Okay. You're looking at logic.

[00:13:19] Todd: Yeah

[00:13:19] Molly: You're looking at algebra. If you, if you were to put it into Euclidean logic. Okay. So, I think that those things made sense to me, but the con computation, and yet look at what you're talking about there. Todd, you're talking about a visual design. What is visual other than geometry?

[00:13:45] Todd: Yeah, yep

[00:13:45] Molly: So, we, we forget that one is the other and they're all the same.

[00:13:50] Todd: Yeah. Yeah. I persisted though

[00:13:54] Molly: Yes, and I’m really glad to hear that.

[00:13:56] Todd: Because I'm stubborn.

[00:13:59] Molly: That's, that's why we didn't flatten. That's why, despite the Sisyphean, you know, epic journey we've been on with, with that, with that boulder rolling right on over us and flattening us. We don’t die.

[00:14:12] Todd: Yeah

[00:14:12] Molly: We get back up because we're passionate.

[00:14:16] Todd: Yeah. Yeah. So, I wa, I wanted to get you on to talk about a couple of things

[00:14:21] Molly: Shoot

[00:14:21] Todd: that we specifically, you mentioned in the form you filled out, but the one that one being, the meaning of access. So, what is your meaning of the word access as far as, the web goes.

[00:14:36] Molly: Well, here we go back into the semantic. Semantic relationship of word to meaning and intent of meaning. Access is simply as a word as a term, something that is, is to be accessed is to be available. That’s all. Availability.

[00:15:02] Todd: Yep

[00:15:02] Molly: Okay. So, when we extrapolate availability and we look at the model that we have found ourselves in, this is true of standards, but it's even more true of access in my way of thinking, because availability is the on-ramp to the World Wide Web.

So, anything that prevents the World Wide Web’s content to be available to as many comers as is possible is failing out of the gate. This is the on-ramp not the ticky-tacky house. Oh, my goodness. I forgot. Let's make it now available.

[00:15:43] Todd: Yeah

[00:15:43] Molly: To a few people based on our cognitive biases and things we are being told and the 4,000 ADA, you know, in the last year, what was it? 4,000 now we're up to

[00:15:55] Todd: Yeah

[00:15:55] Molly: America under the Americans With Disabilities Act, something that was unprecedented prior in years, you know, to see 4,000 of them in less than what, 365 days.

[00:16:10] Todd: Yeah, yeah

[00:16:10] Molly: Hello, wake up.

[00:16:13] Todd: Yeah

[00:16:13] Molly: The coffee is percolating and it's smelling very strong that if people do not get on board, it's no longer federal government.

It's no longer Section 508 here in the United States. And globally, there are far more progressive laws out there. That it has to come to law is a tragedy of itself. The whole idea of the open web and a responsible web would mean that people would do and understand that what makes something accessible, whether you're looking at it in terms of a functional science or a philosophical on-ramp of how we address bringing the content of the web to as many people as possible. Are we going to be universal a hundred percent? Please. We all know from reason and logic, that reason and logic, the first rules are nothing is a hundred percent reasonable or logical in this world. It just

[00:17:13] Todd: Yeah

[00:17:13] Molly: doesn't scale that far.

[00:17:15] Todd: Right

[00:17:15] Molly: So, let's be realistic

[00:17:17] Todd: Yeah

[00:17:17] Molly: and aim to be, you know, we talk about inclusivity. What does that really mean when we're approaching all our problems through exclusion, not inclusion.

[00:17:28] Todd: Yeah

[00:17:28] Molly: Oh, that doesn't, I don't have any blind users. Why should I care about blind users? What kind of exclusionary thinking is that?

[00:17:35] Todd: Exactly

[00:17:35] Molly: Completely exclusionary.

[00:17:36] Todd: Yeah, yeah. And that re—that you remind me of something, that I'll for a second here, I spoke with a stakeholder, at a place I worked at, and I said, well, the, they had a, SaaS app and a, you know, regular public facing website.

[00:17:57] Molly: Right

[00:17:57] Todd: And I said, well, we gotta make sure these are accessible to everybody. And the stakeholders said we don't have disabled users.

[00:18:08] Molly: Wow.

[00:18:08] Todd: And I said,

[00:18:09] Molly: You know what? Guess what does he use his own website? Because that sounds like a big disability right there.

[00:18:13] Todd: Yeah

[00:18:13] Molly: Disability talking about meaning of language disability means either no ability or apart from ability.

[00:18:23] Todd: Yeah

[00:18:23] Molly: Who among us human beings is at any time completely in sync with every ability. And who of us has never experienced being apart from ability? Please,

[00:18:37] Todd: Yeah

[00:18:37] Molly: it's the nature of the beast. Start there, acknowledge that we are temporarily at best able bodied or able mind and in, and given stress like the pandemic, like the political environment of the world, not just my own attitudes about it.

We are in a time of great darkness.

[00:19:01] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:01] Molly: To, to, to, to be so exclusionary and dismissive of all aspects of humanity is the worst possible response

[00:19:10] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:10] Molly: in my opinion.

[00:19:12] Todd: Well, yeah, definitely. I did point out while he was wearing his eyeglasses that he was wearing an assistive technology.

[00:19:22] Molly: That’s right, look at me. Hello. I can't see, I can't hear.

[00:19:25] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:25] Molly: It's all diminishing with age.

[00:19:27] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:27] Molly: There are emotional problems. There are medical problems and I screw up a lot.

[00:19:33] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:33] Molly: And I have to course correct. And I have never had a quiet breakdown. They've always been in public, and I have to build myself back up after that and remember that that's human

[00:19:46] Todd: Yeah

[00:19:46] Molly: and it happens

[00:19:48] Todd: Yep

[00:19:48] Molly: and I'm not going to disregard the benefit of what people bring to the table, despite what we may judge about them so long as they're not harming other people

[00:20:02] Todd: Yes

[00:20:02] Molly: in the process.

[00:20:04] Todd: Yeah, yeah. So, it, yeah, fortunately there was the stakeholder had an open mind. And it took a couple of more meetings, but I, you know, took what I have learned throughout the years and was able to take the, I guess take, take everything and just make it, make it happen and make it work and, and made things as accessible as I could at the time for the time I was there.

[00:20:36] Molly: And I'm not sure. See, when one of the things, when I think about accessibility and expanding what that really means on the front end, it doesn't have to do with disability at all.

[00:20:46] Todd: Right

[00:20:46] Molly: It has to do it's inclusive of conditions of all kinds. And that includes literacy, the digital divide, economically, nations that are offline or trying to get online because of the, of, of dominant governments that don't want them to have that right.

All of these things are a barrier to entry. Any barrier to entry is a barrier to content information that can be empowering and communication to go back to what I was saying about this ideology of better distribution of all the things humanity has that through its greed and through its prejudice and bias, refuses to share. Like get over it.

[00:21:35] Todd: Yeah

[00:21:35] Molly: We are dying, we are endlings. If we do not rise to the occasion of self-care as a globe.

[00:21:47] Todd: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I, I think, I’m, I was trying to think of some questions that I can ask you, cause I usually asked, ask 10 questions and then I go on to the, the ending three, but you know, I, I came up with one and it may sound just like I'm throwing a softball right in there. But do you think the web has moved forward and backwards when it comes to access?

[00:22:15] Molly: I think it doesn't understand access, I think we need to redefine it. We talk about accessibility in terms of first universality. And we realize now that universal design is a, is a failing, concept. Not because it isn't a lofty goal, but because it's an unattainable one, there's never going to be a hundred percent.

[00:22:40] Todd: Right

[00:22:40] Molly: Now, does that mean we can't scale? And scale and work toward understanding, not at all. How do we do that? We begin looking at the realities of how people use all sensory perceptions and engage full, full sensory, input, output, haptics, visual, you name a way to access, input, or output into the human being. And you expand. We expand together the ways that people can express.

When we look at web 3.0 metaverse, okay? Now there's a lot of, a lot attached to that, like NFTs and things that are very controversial. But when we look at what the immersion of a multi-sensory world could, could benefit. If we can figure out the drain on our human resources and energetic and, and energy resources, we can probably, remember Second Life?
This is a corollary. Second Life emerged

[00:23:48] Todd: Yes

[00:23:48] Molly: as a virtual environment where, which appealed to many people who were not able to interact in more what would seem to us or to the vast majority of people using text and graphics and the way we've been doing the web quite the same way. It was an immersive world.

And in that world, they were able to project and communicate differently because different sensory elements were be creating an immersive experience. I see parts of web 3.0 as being extremely promising. Problematic? Hell yeah.

[00:24:28] Todd: Yeah

[00:24:28] Molly: But whose responsibility is that? That goes back to the fact that the web 1.0, I don't like the versioning,

[00:24:36] Todd: Yeah

[00:24:36] Molly: but it is what it is. And it's a polarizing commentary, a, a polarizing idea. People get what that's about more or less, and more and more over time what that really means. And for this reason, people, you know, I was very reluctant to go down that path and that seemed to be with my domain, and, you know, I had it before there was a network solutions that was NSF.

[00:25:01] Todd: Yeah

[00:25:01] Molly: Where I was able to get that domain. So, you know, to see it come all these years, but I know that I'm done with it as a, as a brand at a, at a pursuit. I don't want to be a .com so much anymore. is more of a, can be a commercial entity, but there's no profit agenda there. So, you know, it's all about giving education and knowledge.

So that's where I'm at, you know, and, and people, I think people are, are very confused with that. They're like, how come you never made net worth? How come you had to do these things, Molly? And the reason is cause I've never been interested in the capitalism, capitalism, the net worth bullshit. I am here for humanity.

[00:25:49] Todd: Yeah

[00:25:49] Molly: Let's remind ourselves what the meaningful nature of the social goals of the, of the, of the World Wide Web. You know, Tim Berners Lee made it very clear that this was not just about technology.

[00:26:05] Todd: Yeah

[00:26:05] Molly: It was about society

[00:26:07] Todd: Yeah

[00:26:07] Molly: and improvement of communication and we failed that. In my opinion.

[00:26:11] Todd: Yeah. Yeah, we have, I asked, Mike Monteiro when I had him on, I said

[00:26:19] Molly: I remember Mike from a long time, long time. Yeah.

[00:26:23] Todd: I, I,

[00:26:23] Molly: Talk about people that are in the fabric of the history of the web.

[00:26:28] Todd: Yeah

[00:26:28] Molly: You has them.

[00:26:28] Todd: Yeah. I asked him, you know, what, what. If there, if there was one thing that you could change about the web, what would that be? And he said that it never existed or some paraphrasing here, but that it never exists or that it, it, it is something to the point that, you know, it existed and never should have.

[00:26:52] Molly: I don't agree. I think that what should have existed is a, it, it didn't emerge and that is human.

[00:27:00] Todd: Yeah

[00:27:00] Molly: How many, how many belief systems, how many political systems, how many things that we have created as human beings have actually been anywhere near in the real world, manifestation of their philosophical ideologies. We fail every time at doing that.

[00:27:16] Todd: Yeah, yeah. I, and I, you know, that was, that was early in last year. So, I might be getting that wrong, but there, again, my, my cognitive is kind of slowing down at this point, as I hop over the half century mark soon.

[00:27:33] Molly: Yes, hop over it. It doesn't get any easier. Trust me on that one. You got it. You got to do your Sudoku or whatever. Get, you know, you've got to really get your cognitive weightlifting going on at that point.

[00:27:48] Todd: Yeah

[00:27:49] Molly: Because yeah, downhill from there.

[00:27:50] Todd: Yeah. Yeah. So, I actually went on, your web with Molly site and I was reading, and something caught my eye that really interests me. You said on there that quote, "The web's long dream did not die in the despair of industry changes. Rather it has become a reminder that evolution demands we adapt not the other way around."

[00:28:13] Todd: So

[00:28:13] Molly: I wrote that?

[00:28:15] Todd: Yeah, it's on there.

[00:28:18] Molly: Yeah, yeah, you ever find yourself, writing something and realizing something. It somehow came through you, but, and it may be of you, but it's almost like.

[00:28:31] Todd: Yeah

[00:28:31] Molly: I don't, you know? Wow.

[00:28:33] Todd: Yeah

[00:28:33] Molly: That's really accurate for me. What do you think?

[00:28:40] Todd: I do that. Do I do it a lot? I don't think so. And I'm not,

[00:28:44] Molly: And like I said I just have a loudmouth and a lot of words, eventually something sticks that’s really smart.

[00:28:53] Todd: I've been accused of the same thing. Not that it is. And not that anything is, you know, been, been smart and what I said. But being loud, I've been a lot of people have accused me of being loud. So yeah.

[00:29:06] Molly: Really? I never, I've never known that about you. But you know, let's think about that. Read that back to me again, and, and not as me, but just as a concept.

[00:29:19] Todd: Okay

[00:29:19] Molly: I want to understand what that means to people who are listening as well as what it means to you.

[00:29:26] Todd: Okay. The web’s long dream did not die in the despair of industry changes. Rather it has become a reminder that evolution demands we adapt not the other way around.

[00:29:40] Molly: I am saying that we are not lost.

[00:29:43] Todd: Yes

[00:29:43] Molly: That every single thing we've done is a matter of unfolding of evolution, sometimes wrong, sometimes damaging and can be course corrected if we put our efforts in it together.

[00:29:57] Todd: Yeah, yeah.

[00:29:59] Molly: It's not dead.

[00:30:00] Todd: Right. So, when I took a look at it, the first thing that popped into my head was people don't like change.

[00:30:11] Molly: People hate change,

[00:30:12] Todd: Yeah

[00:30:12] Molly: but change, but change is inevitable

[00:30:16] Todd: It is.

[00:30:16] Molly: every moment of every day you're changing.

[00:30:17] Todd: Yeah. and I know, cause I did a little self-reflection that, oh, I hated change. But these days, knowing what I know now gone through what I have gone through in my life. I am more open and willing to embrace change. For instance, I will use when I do my everyday job as an accessibility engineer.

When React came out, I went Facebook, oh no, I'm not touching that. Right? And I,

[00:30:57] Molly: I understand, I understand to the core of my soul

[00:31:00] Todd: Yeah, and I didn't want to learn that. I just, I refuse to, because of the fact that I don't want to change it. I want to still write HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

[00:31:10] Molly: Right. I didn't wanna go to frameworks. I didn't want to go to CSS frameworks.

[00:31:13] Todd: Yep

[00:31:13] Molly: I didn't want to go to any JS frameworks. I was not interested in them. If you were going to use JavaScript, if you were going to use CSS, I'm old school, do it by the rec and spec as it's presented by the, by the dominating specification organization in the case of JavaScript, you've got ECMAScript and Brendan Eich.

Okay, come on, man. I don't care what you think of his politics. The man is the father of JavaScript and ironically, you know, works on, on very anti-JavaScript environments, like you know, and putting tor into Brave, you know, the Mozilla organization before he had to leave there because of the, you know, not the same political viewpoints.

[00:31:58] Todd: Right

[00:31:58] Molly: you know, he, he, you know, the reality is, is that's where the tor browser comes out of.

[00:32:03] Todd: Yep

[00:32:03] Molly: I mean, that's where we're having built-in VPNs and real security, and we're seeing a rise of activism. Mozilla is imperfect, but it's the last bastion of the organization that's open.

[00:32:16] Todd: Right. Yeah. Yeah. So, I don't think tech embraces that change while I know it doesn't cause I've seen it in action. I mean, I think we've all seen it in action, with people that want to exclude women in tech or exclude, people that aren’t, people that don't look like me. So, you know.

[00:32:42] Molly: Well, even like you, even people who look like you,

[00:32:46] Todd: Yeah

[00:32:46] Molly: exclusionary thinking is a, is a result, very often of something we can't necessarily auto identify in ourselves that is cognitive bias.

[00:32:57] Todd: Yeah

[00:32:57] Molly: Okay. And when you say to somebody that's a cognitive bias, they will get defensive because they think you mean that they're being prejudice and that it's their fault. When the reality is, is that cognitive bias is human beings. Now. What we can do is become aware of the most common ones that have been codified and quantified and qualified and begin to look at why am I so stubbornly convinced that anybody who's disabled on the web is really measurable through them through one thing.

And that's the idea that they're blind. When that is so far from reality's truth.

[00:33:39] Todd: Right

[00:33:39] Molly: That it's become a in, in an in joke, of tragic proportions

[00:33:44] Todd: Yeah

[00:33:44] Molly: for the accessibility technology workers of the world.

[00:33:48] Todd: Yeah

[00:33:48] Molly: But when I, when I think of accessibility, yes, there is a deep science, there is a deep applied methodology.

But I'm there not to talk about that. I'm there to reframe the conversation and get people understanding that if we do not know what broke it in the first place for now, what things can maybe help that and what that really means for anybody in the profession. They have to address the sociological issues as well as the personal ones that are preventing them from empowering their organizational position in true inclusivity, into diversity and in eradicating, from the get code, the idea that accessibility as a fixed comes at the end of the very ticky-tacky house we built called web.

[00:34:50] Todd: Right, right. So, let's shift now to the book because you've written a lot of books or coauthored, a lot of books. I have read most of them. I have always enjoyed those books.

[00:35:09] Molly: I haven’t. Well, in the writing of.

[00:35:09] Todd: Yes, yes.

[00:35:10] Molly: [inaudible] Oh my goodness.

[00:35:14] Todd: What is the new book going to be about? And when are we going to see that.

[00:35:22] Molly: It appears if all goes smoothly, that should be appearing somewhere toward the end of the summer.

[00:35:29] Todd: Okay

[00:35:29] Molly: July or August. Would’ve been nice to hit, hit, the global accessibility awareness day, but you know, this is, this is a demarcation point in the history of the web and to reestablish accessibility as the front-line entryway of web development, as opposed to the I'll tack it on later if I absolutely freaking have to.

[00:35:54] Todd: Yeah

[00:35:54] Molly: We asked that we have seen pervade our industry. I really hope to see a lot of discussion, inspired by what I'm doing. This is not a how to, but it sure is a spackle book. If you don't understand markup as markup, if you don't understand CSS as CSS.

Not the interaction side of things first and foremost, but as the content language with franca and presentation, not design laying with franca. And then the where interaction design and form factor and media queries, and all of these things have led to some very disconcerting issues. Not because it's wrong for people to work in the sandbox and create frameworks and extrapolate on what we know that's allowed.

It's encouraged it’s part of innovation. But what you put in a sandbox is not what you'd necessarily deploy.

[00:36:57] Todd: Yeah, yeah.

[00:36:57] Molly: So, I think that that's really, the book is called Included. That's its title. Its subtitle is Redefining Accessibility for the World Wide Web, and that is its goal to look at the technical and social interactions that gave rise to where we are in the state of the accessible web today.

How we can expand our meaning and our purpose. Beyond the limited, the limitations of what we believe. If I told you that human beings were less biologically diverse than almost any living creature, walking in the planet, people would freak.

It is a biological fact

[00:37:42] Todd: Yeah

[00:37:42] Molly: where we are incredibly diverse is that you and me are completely different people in our beings.

[00:37:51] Todd: Right

[00:37:51] Molly: That is human diversity.

[00:37:54] Todd: Yeah

[00:37:55] Molly: Not the color of our skin, not the, I mean, you and I are, are not the same race. And yet people would make that assumption every single day.

[00:38:06] Todd: Yep, yeah.

[00:38:08] Molly: We have to get beyond this crap. It is not helping us as a,

[00:38:13] Todd: Right

[00:38:13] Molly: as a society. It is separatism.

[00:38:15] Todd: Yep

[00:38:15] Molly: It is exclusion. It is not inclusion.

[00:38:19] Todd: Yep. Totally agree. Absolutely. So, I got a couple more questions here before I get to the final three, because these questions. So, the, the first one I have is a story I've heard before, but I'd love to hear it again. And that was your meeting with Bill Gates.

[00:38:39] Molly: Well, it's really interesting. I don't know if he saw the, the thing that got, the Jay, Jay Hoffman and his history of the web.

[00:38:46] Todd: I

[00:38:46] Molly: I just posted it about that.

[00:38:51] Todd: I saw that. Okay.

[00:38:51] Molly: And it's a little bit, it's really cute because, actually it's not the most recent, editorial piece. We, we kind of, had brought it a little forward in time and accuracy, but Jay is, Jay is about to welcome, another joyous bundle of love to his family.

So, I think he's a little daddy brained out at the moment, so I'll get back with him on that. But most of the story is very well-documented in that, in that lovely, honoring of me and all of the people who were involved in that. Just to briefly summarize. you were talking about Jeffrey Zeldman earlier, Jeffrey Zeldman along with, some key people, of course, were the spearheads of the Web Standards Project, also known as WASP and during Zeldman’s era, it was within their absolute charter and need to use the sting of, of social embarrassment, if you will of caught more, calling people on their crap in public.

Because they were closed down. By the time, the emergence of, so that, you know, 1998 was all about document object model stuff.

[00:40:02] Todd: Yeah

[00:40:02] Molly: That was what really the parody there with the Netscape and the brow, you know, the browser wars, but things escalated.

And of course, IE 6 lack of innovation. The Steve, you know, Steve Ballmer announced to the world, we won the web. I took him to task in public for that. Got a lot of flak, got a lot of interest suddenly. All of a sudden circumstances occurred where openings, in the Microsoft internal environment began, began to bubble up.

And, you know, you have to remember people like Chris Wilson and many others who had been there were part of the W3C the whole time. So, they were on top of the specs. They just were not getting any fricking buy-in from the corporation who said, we are now five years, and we own the web or whatever,

[00:40:55] Todd: Yeah

[00:40:55] Molly: and a long story, less long, a window opens a window open there. A window opened in some of us at the web standards project. I leapt forward. We decided, some of us in the web standard project, including myself, Dean Edwards, and a couple of other real renegades decided, all right, if they're opening up, let's open up and see what we can create as a bridge. And we did, and the rest is history.

We tried to save that browser. We could not help in time.

[00:41:29] Todd: Yeah

[00:41:29] Molly: it was a brutal and a very devastating thing in the end to certain careers on the inside. I was lucky I was on the outside. It was brutal for me, but I got to walk away. You know? A lot of people were stuck there, and they bled out a lot of toxicity.

[00:41:49] Todd: Yeah, yeah.

[00:41:49] Molly: And in the end we have Edge and look at what Edge is now.

[00:41:56] Todd: Yeah

[00:41:56] Molly: And it's, it's a heartbreak really

[00:41:58] Todd: Yeah

[00:41:58] Molly: to see a monoculture, we try to prevent a monoculture. And

[00:42:04] Todd: yeah. Now another question I just thought of when you were talking about how, you know, Steve Ballmer said, we won the web, do you think that Google is taking that same thought approach?

[00:42:21] Molly: Oh, I don't think they even had to think about it. They had an agenda to own the web

[00:42:27] Todd: Yeah

[00:42:27] Molly: not only that they had an agenda to own all your base and all your ID information along with a lot of other people, including government.

[00:42:35] Todd: Yeah

[00:42:35] Molly: Hello, Edward Snowden. If we did not learn our lesson, then, then we are fools.

[00:42:40] Todd: Yeah, definitely. So, the other question I wanted to ask is, when you filled out the form, you mentioned the, the, the church website you made and, and how they made you a saint, could you go into that a little bit?

[00:42:57] Molly: I don't know how many people are familiar with what that United with, with why the ULC you're not the, it was called, well, it still exists. It's the Universal Life Church. And I, are you familiar with that, what it is? And

[00:43:17] Todd: I, I am familiar with what it is.

[00:43:19] Molly: Just to give people who are probably coming to this, maybe not only from the United States, but from a different time in history, there was a man who was born in 1911. His name was Kirby J Hensley. He began a very unusual thing where he, started what is called the Universal Life Church that persists today in many forms.

He's no longer with us, but when I began my career in web design and development and building sites for people, he was in fact still alive. He came out of, sec the Sacramento area and what he is most famous for is creating a church that did have legal minister would make you a legal minister.

Okay. All you gotta do is sign up, but really what he's most famous for is being a thorn in the side, perpetually of the US in the US IRS, the Internal Revenue Service.

[00:44:22] Todd: Yep

[00:44:22] Molly: He successfully evaded having to pay taxes and set up a methodology with no theosophy no liturgy, but a church is exempt from most taxation.
So, he, now, if you set up a church, it doesn't have to have a theosophy a liturgy or a known, even a known practice or it can, and it is protected. But if you set it up properly because of his legacy. So that's really what he was doing is he was putting it to the man

[00:45:02] Todd: Yeah

[00:45:02] Molly: and he did, he won, he survived it. so, their first sight, he ran, he reached out to one of the elders who was here in Tucson and was not adept.
Nobody was adept at website. So, we built a site that had a huge Gif okay that because that was the only and we couldn't even run it inline. You had to download it to, to an external, external viewer

[00:45:33] Todd: Yeah

[00:45:33] Molly: printed out and you could sign it and it was pre-signed and that would be your official minister. You could take that down and you could perform marriages with it legal, or you could start a church.

So, I receive in the mail a document that has declared the ULC has declared me as Saint, Saint Molly for building the first ULC, there are many versions of it out there now, nothing to do with me anymore, because that was decades and decades ago with the rise of the web. He is long gone, but what a legacy and what a freaking tongue in cheek story for the ages.

[00:46:14] Todd: That’s awesome.

[00:46:14] Molly: I am sainted for giving other people the right to evade, the Internal Revenue Service as a church.

[00:46:21] Todd: That is awesome. Thank, thank you for, thank you for going into that.

[00:46:25] Molly: Oh, and then there's a wonderful little cherry on the, on the blessing of that

[00:46:31] Todd: Okay

[00:46:31] Molly: I was married by ULC minister who went out and got that for the era of the day of its time, the same day he married my husband and I.

[00:46:45] Todd: Yeah

[00:46:45] Molly: So, we, we, we, we, we honored it to the end.

[00:46:52] Todd: So, I get the, the point here in the podcast. As we come down on time to ask the final three questions that I have for all my guests,

[00:47:03] Molly: I feel like I’m a horse at the end of the race, it's like, I'm either gonna make it or not.

[00:47:08] Todd: Well, these are the hard-hitting questions I have at the end here for everybody. I call it the hot seat. So, the first one is, what about the web these days excites you and keeps you excited in what you do?

[00:47:25] Molly: Yes. The passion to make sure that people learn their code and understand that standards are, you know, have you ever seen somebody, I forget who it was. Somebody went out and took the, the gray, like a picture of a, of a headstone. And put my name on it with a very, generous amount of lifespan that would be impossible by our counting in the, the Gregorian calendar, but they were being generous.

And the quote is there are still no standards. Molly E Holzschlag from my grave. And what's so beautiful about that is that it doesn't say there are still no web standards. It says there are still no standards. And I think that that to me is the everlasting message.

[00:48:15] Todd: Yeah, so my second question is if there are a one thing about the web that you could change today that we know the web we know today, what would that be?

[00:48:22] Molly: Create a rubric of educational measure that could be applied to any form of, of education. Be it free, be it organized, whatever we do, we need to start seeing a standard measure for educational entrance into our, profession. This does not mean that hobbyists should be left out.

[00:48:45] Todd: Right

[00:48:45] Molly: It means that if you're going to do it as a job, there is a demand on you now in every walk of that industry to be well informed beyond what we've been able to provide as educational consistency for any measure of, of that, of that ilk.

[00:49:04] Todd: Yeah

[00:49:04] Molly: So that's a professional standard.

[00:49:08] Todd: My last question is your favorite part of front-end development or design or anything to do with the web that you really like to nerd out over,

[00:49:20] Molly: Meaning, semantics,

[00:49:23] Todd: Yeah

[00:49:23] Molly: the relation of declarative language to content that it should be descriptive. That every sign and symbol and color and everything we use, we understand why we're doing that in the cultural environment, into what our audiences are. So, it comes down to everything that I was telling you, the manifestation of clarity of meaning and intent in all things.

[00:49:53] Todd: So that's all for the questions. And I'd like to close the podcast out with letting, guests, letting my guests, let the listeners know if I can get untangled here with my English today.
Letting the listeners know what you have currently going on and where people can find you online. So, the floor is yours.

[00:50:14] Molly: Okay. So mostly I, I've had to reduce a lot of the overwhelming amount of demand that social media has placed on us. And so far as blogging, I, I hope to bring Web with Molly back. is standing as a placeholder for what I hope will be future, zoom or other outreach-based things that will be for free, across a wide range of discussion topics that I am not necessarily the teacher or the presenter of.

But that we have opportunity to really do brainstorming as peer-to-peer colleagues, no matter what our backgrounds are. So, I have some ideas about how I want to do that. Maybe the emergence of a podcast, if that fits into the bandwidth that I have available, but what's taking absolute precedence is the book.

This is my I, I, it's my 36th mass market book, with it's with John Wiley and sons, they are giving me such, such leeway to really do content that is, of, of a nature that I have never had the freedom to do before to not make that a joyous and wonderful experience as it has been unfolding so far would be detrimental to myself.

And hopefully the people that might fall upon it in terms of a resource down the road. So that is really taking precedence. In the meantime, my biggest concern and I am sorry, because I thought that it was off,

[00:51:47] Todd: Oh no worries. No worries.

[00:51:48] Molly: Like you are saying they intrude anyway, they find a way in.

[00:51:50] Todd: Yeah

[00:51:50] Molly: So, social networks, I am @MHolzschlag, my first initial and last name on Twitter. Molly Holzschlag standard Facebook addressing for my Facebook. These are personal as well as public. And I do have a LinkedIn profile, but LinkedIn is very, very busy these days. I think I have had to back off so that I can focus on the book work and

[00:52:15] Todd: Yeah

[00:52:15] Molly: you know, so that's, so the, the social network stuff is a little harder for me right now, but the focus on the book and, you know what, just say, hey, drop me in, jot me a note on social media, drop me a DM, drop me a, a, a private message. It's open for kindness always.

[00:52:39] Todd: Yeah, yeah, and

[00:52:39] Molly: Up here

[00:52:40] Todd: Yeah, yeah, and we've spoken before on Twitter and, and Facebook as well, so yeah. So that's it. That's all the questions I have today. And I sincerely want to thank you so much for coming on, spending part of your day with me. And hopefully I, you know, we had that little, I had that little miscommunication, when I finally got down here and moved.

[00:53:12] Molly: Oh yeah, and I, I was, I’m in a, I can be very nasty these days.

[00:53:14] Todd: Yeah

[00:53:14] Molly: I’m under a lot of stress and you know,

[00:53:16] Todd: Yeah

[00:53:16] Molly: not being well cared for medically is not a happy thing.

[00:53:20] Todd: Yeah

[00:53:20] Molly: So, I, I, you know, bygones are bygones

[00:53:24] Todd: Yes

[00:53:24] Molly: forward we go

[00:53:25] Todd: Yes. And hopefully at some point, we'll, we'll

[00:53:29] Molly: Yeah, we’ll get to see each other. I would love that

[00:53:31] Todd: Exactly

[00:53:31] Molly: we're in the same beautiful state,

[00:53:33] Todd: Yeah

[00:53:33] Molly: but we're so isolated and you know, here's to better days, Todd, here’s to better days for the world, for us all

[00:53:40] Todd: Yes

[00:53:40] Molly: from my heart to everyone.

[00:53:42] Thank you for spending time with me, Todd, and thank you for your audience who

[00:53:47] Todd: Yeah

[00:53:47] Molly: is interested because I know that I'm getting meta in the way that I'm thinking and expressing myself, but I was always that way and I really am happy to exist on a, on a more, a larger, a larger scale of, of analysis. Now, then the details, although the details still matter very much.

[00:54:11] Todd: Yeah. Again, thank you for spending part of your day with me. I appreciate it. I was looking so forward to this, so I'm glad we could, we could get together today and talk.

[00:54:24] Molly: What a joy, thank you for bringing me joy. I appreciate that.

[00:54:27] Todd: Thank you

[00:54:27] Molly: And the best wishes to everybody and to you and let us hope to see each other face to face in the future very soon.

[00:54:36] Todd: Yes

[00:54:36] Molly: Bye everybody. Bye Todd. Thank you.

[00:54:39] Todd: Thank you. And thank you listeners for tuning into the Front End Nerdery Podcast. I'll be back next time with a new guest new conversation about front-end design development and other topics. If you would please rate this podcast on your podcast device of choice, like, subscribe and watch on the Front End Nerdery YouTube channel. Links to transcripts and show notes are there because this podcast is accessible and I am Todd Libby, and this has been the Front End Nerdery Podcast. Thank you. And we'll see you all next time.

[00:55:10] Molly: Bye