I've been a web developer since 1996, back when we called ourselves webmasters. The first web browsers I installed, from a CD provided to me by my ISP, were Internet Explorer and Netscape 2. By the time the version 4 browsers emerged, I had been introduced to the idea of web standards. I began evangelizing standards within the Dreamweaver community and somehow, despite my lack of qualification for anything, became part of The Web Standards Project (WaSP).
Through the people of WaSP I learned about how the standards movement had come about. I got to work with people whose resumes were far more impressive than mine, yet who treated me as an equal. Those early years set me on a path I still continue, my passion for and commitment to an open web platform was formed, twenty years on I'm still doing that work.
There are a few of us from those days who still write books, speak at conferences, and would be considered reasonably well-known in web development circles. Yet, many people who contributed in ways which still impact the platform today, have almost vanished from the collective memory of the industry.
Histories are told which mention the same names, and miss out many of the people I remember. Those who wrote the books we all learned from; who drove the movement forward, who spent time talking to browser vendors about the problems of competing on core platform features. And, as is so often the way, many of those who are vanishing from the conversation are those who are already under-represented.
I intend this site to become a place to gather the stories of the early efforts to create an open web. Timeline roughly 1995-2006 initially, purely to limit the scope of what is initially a dissertation project for my degree.
How you can help
This is essentially a holding page for the project. Right now I have two things I need help with. The first is a survey, asking a few questions to try and ascertain who people think of when they think of the history of our industry.
Take the survey and please share it!
The second is to ask you to let me know who you think I should talk to. I'm pretty sure that my list is but a small part of those who contributed, and I'd love to be introduced to people who have stories to share.
Drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Rachel Andrew (@rachelandrew)