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Vale Molly Holzschlag

In recent weeks I’ve been posting on landmark years in the history of personal computing–today it’s, sadly, a landmark person.

Sadly, because Molly Holzschlag passed away this week.

People of a certain generation associated with the Web will have vivid memories of Molly, whether from her writing, speaking, or if really privileged, knowing her in person.

I was so privileged, and collaborated with Molly at the Web Standards Project, which she may not have founded, but of which she was the beating heart in so many ways. Molly spoke several times at our conferences over the years, and while we had not been in the same room for quite some time now, her memory will remain for a long time.

Molly, with Eric Meyer, Tantek Çelik and John Allsopp in 2005 after WWW 2005 in Chiba

So, who was Molly? Described as ‘the fairy godmother of the Web’, prolific author from the mid 1990s onwards of books that helped a generation become web developers, she embodied and long advocated for a certain vision of the web, a World Wide, inclusive web, that has taken a bit of a back seat in recent years.

It’s a vision of the web that I, and many others of that generation who came to developing for the web in the decade from 1995-2005, also held.

Others like Eric Meyer, who knew Molly very well, have shared their memories. Eric wrote

If you don’t know her name, I’m sorry.  Too many didn’t.  She was one of the first web gurus, a title she adamantly rejected  —  “We’re all just people, people!”  —  but it fit nevertheless.  She was a groundbreaker, expanding and explaining the Web at its infancy.  So many people, on hearing the mournful news, have described her as a force of nature, and that’s a title she would have accepted with pride

Memories of Molly

At 30 or so, the Web is still relatively young, and most of our pioneers are still with us–something that won’t be the case forever. But the Web’s early days, while seemingly only yesterday for some like me, are a lifetime ago or more for many on the Web today.

So I want to remember Molly with gratitude, for what she did as an advocate for the Web, and an educator of countless in its earliest generation, and for the time I got to spend with her–20 years later she would still laugh abut my appalling pronunciation of chutzpah (much better now thanks to Molly!)

Vale Molly, and thanks.

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