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Internet Brothers: Helpware for the Cybercommunity - Interviews with the Masters

 

[Internet Brothers] As a producer of both copyrighted material and linkware, do you want to see governments remain on the sideline of Net regulation and the development of better technological protections, or do you have enough experience with right-click-thievery to support stronger laws and penalties?

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due [Heather Champ] Many diehard Internet users still feel very strongly that everything online should be "free". Free of charge, and freedom to use whatever content they see fit. I don't think these people understand, respect, or appreciate the creative process that designers and developers undertake to realize web sites. I have an archive of background tiles for people to use in exchange for a link back to my site. It would be generous to say that perhaps less than 20% of those who use my work link back to my site. I can't police the web to determine whether people are meeting with my very simple requests, but I do notice.

It's another matter for material that I create for hchamp.com. I've been quite horrified to find my postcard images sprinkled liberally around a few web sites. In one instance, an architecture student at a west coast university had used one of my backgrounds and also a selection of the postcard thumbnails. I wrote an email to the student requesting that she remove them (which she did). She replied that her professor had told them to build web sites with things that they found online. Now, I don't know exactly what the professor said, if there might have been some miscommunication regarding the observance of copyright, but at the University level?

There needs to be a better process of education regarding the web. Unfortunately most law and policy makers are wrapped up with "traditional" media's portrayal of the Internet as arch demon rather than as the incredibly useful resource that it is. They don't understand the Internet. Look at what has happened to eToy.com. I would much rather have a policing from within the Internet community, but I realize that isn't a viable solution. I don't know what the solution is. If lawyers, policy makers, and government had a better understanding and were well educated, then I would feel they were more likely to protect my rights...

[IB] Would you like to tell us about Peter Pan?

Stop Online Harassment! [HC] Arrgh! About a year ago, an individual(s) began to use peterpan@jezebel.com when posting truly vile advertisements for pornographic sites to newsgroups. I've spoken with a couple of Internet lawyers and while assuming a false identity typically contravenes most Terms of Use agreements, it would be difficult to prosecute. With help from some anti-spam Jedi, I was able to track down an individual a few months ago. Unfortunately, he works out of an ISP that is a known haven for pornographers online. He was supposedly booted out but he's still at it. I've been mail-bombed and received some very nasty notes regarding his posts. I'm not a pornographer, there has never been a peterpan@jezebel.com and there never will be. My ISP is doing some further research to see if we can make a case to the FCC. Stay tuned, this will be going on for awhile.

[IB] Do you feel cheated by Microsoft; or enabled by Microsoft?

[HC] I don't think I'll ever know the correct answer to that question. What would the application and OS landscape be like without Microsoft? Would there have been applications x, y and z that could have flourished in a more open environment? Would Netscape be a different product today? My first and second computers were Macintosh, a IIci and a Powerbook 5300ce. My third and fourth computers are now PCs. I made the OS switch (kicking and screaming) at my last "full time" position. The hardware is much less expensive, and the applications available equal those available for the MAC OS. On the other hand, when things go wrong, I'm lost. It's very frustrating.

[IB] When Heather does her own web surfing for pleasure, who are some of the developers that have made you stand up and take notice? What are the technologies you want to dive deeper into?

Pop Culture [HC] Design for design sake is a bit tired — there are many beautiful sites out there, but if you scratch the surface there's little real content underneath. I look for a marriage of good design and content, a sense of humour, and a touch of humility. Unfortunately, many sites implement every bell & whistle, unnecessarily burdening the user experience with interminable downloads merely to view a near "print experience." Designers need to acknowledge the inherent non-linear interactivity of the medium.

Some favourite bookmarks:


Weblogs are editorializing content found on the Internet. This movement has instigated an interesting dialogue within the development community. I frequently visit CamWorld, memepool, Jason Kottke's site kottke.org, Calamondin and The Obscure Store and Reading Room. These sites appeal to the information junkie lurking within.

[IB] What's next for you?

[HC] I'm going to finally tinker with a little Flash. Until quite recently, I've not had a significant chunk of time to roll up my sleeves and get down to business. Lynda Weinman's Learning Flash 4.0 video series has been highly recommended. I can't think of a better holiday project to ring in the new millennium than learning a new application.

I'm looking forward to a number of upcoming projects in the new year — the next interface iteration for jGuru, updates for Jezebel including a few new postcard themes and tiles for the Background Archive, and the development of a new niche community (that unfortunately, I can't talk about).

[IB] What is sitting on top of your monitor right now?

[HC] Oh man...Busted! A QuickCam, a cheap, silver plastic and feather tiara that I purchased for a friend; a small, pink plastic unidentified Pokémon character and a rubber 3-D dog picture frame sporting my boyfriend's face intstead of a pooch!

[IB] Thank you very much Heather. We hope our guests learn as much through this as we did. Before you go, tell us about Clem's Oracle.

Clem [HC] Ah, Clem. Clem (as he would say "that's C-L-E-M, Clem, Clem, Clem") is a good friend I had the pleasure of working with a few years ago. Last spring he sent me an email about his frustrations with a variety of online oracles as they were only divining negative responses to his questions. I wanted to create an oracle that would guarantee a positive response to a positive question (it just won't work if you ask something like "will so and so dump me").

Thank you very much… It's been my pleasure.


[IB] We hope you will visit Heather Champ's web site: hchamp.com and thank her personally for taking the time to talk to us. Don't miss Mirror mirror and her design articles, send an e-postcard to a friend or browse through her background archive; then drop her an email, but don't send it to Peter Pan.

 

End Heather Champ Interview

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"Unfortunately most law and policy makers are wrapped up with "traditional" media's portrayal of the Internet as arch demon rather than as the incredibly useful resource that it is."

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Designers need to acknowledge the inherent non-linear interactivity of the [Internet] medium."

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Weblogs are editorializing content found on the Internet. This movement has instigated an interesting dialogue within the development community."

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I can't think of a better holiday project to ring in the new millennium than learning a new application."

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