Michael Miller is an award-winning designer and computer graphics analyst, as well as a recognized expert and innovator in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), graphical user interface (GUI) techniques, mega-scale interactive media project management, and virtual communities. He is also author of a wildly popular book, The Webmaster's Guide to Glory! How to Win the Top Web Awards. The beekeeper of The Beeline @ bton.com, Míc, as he is known on the Internet, is a native of Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Míc attended Indiana University as a psychology major on an athletic scholarship. With the help of his coach, Bob Knight, Míc transferred to the University of Colorado, Boulder to pursue architectural studies. He graduated from the design college with honors and was distinguished as the first senior to author a masters-level thesis.
This is your friendly interviewer, Jeff Clark, as he appeared in 1999. Time changes things.
[Internet Brothers] One of the many services offered by your company is web publishing. For our new readers, help us understand what should be expected from a reliable, affordable web hosting service. Describe what a domain is and explain the difference between virtual serving and virtual hosting.
[Míc Miller] Reliability, to me, is zero downtime, no glitches, and any surprise is a nice one. However, this is not enough. People have to be found on the Net. I saw Yahoo! losing the load at the end of 1996 and, since then, search engines have cut back substantially on indexing. The era of localized area information retrieval has finally arrived. Then there's all those unnatural URLs. Why can't someone find someone else off the top of their head? Keyword searching has been a plethora of problems for everyone. My solution is to provide affordable home and portal pages in a Beehive directory using a simple address system. All anyone needs to know is the Hive's call letters, like bton.com, the party's county and their phone number. People "Hit the Hive" and are right where they want to be. As for affordability, I think it's having a web presence solution for any budget, adding flexibility to print media, and reducing advertising costs — which is where the Hit the Hive symbol comes into play.
A domain is a level or area within a hierarchially structured network. A top-level domain has an extension such as .com or .edu or .org. Second-level domains are reserved areas within a top-level domain and use names such as internetbrothers and bton.
Virtual serving and virtual hosting are essentially the same in that both use a web server to store and publish files on the Net. The difference is who controls the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Most domain names are virtually served by internet service providers and web hosting services where their second-level domain names are registered to the customers. If a person or organization is virtually hosted, it might have an address like www.isp-host.net/~accountname. Either way, the IP addresses are assigned to the ISP or host. A virtually served domain may appear to have their own server; but without a Whois search, you don't know where the physical server is and who controls its IP addresses.
[IB] Everyone has their favorite predictions for the future of the Internet. As one who has been around it longer than most, what changes have you witnessed that seem most dramatic, and what are some of the technologies you see driving the Internet yet to be?
[MM] During the PC Era, we came to expect an 18-month doubling effect in CPU performance. To me, the most dramatic change today is that we can't say the same about internet performance. Some areas I'm watching are the Abilene Project, wireless broadband, high-definition Net-TV, cellular clipboards, touch-sensitive kiosks, and user behavior patterns. Like Nicholas, I'm waiting for the telephone, television, and computer to merge so we can christen the Information Age.
“Net vets know why it's important to pass down the history, culture and responsibility. I just hope this marvelous idea continues toward its potential.” — Míc Miller
[IB] Who were some of the early icons you looked up to when you were getting your start online? Who can we look to now for leadership? Do you have any favorites out there you would perhaps like to do some work with in the future?
[MM] As I've mentioned earlier, my college mentor, Nicholas, Bill, Tim, and the Mosaic Team provided insights, tools and inspiration. Some of the others were Stewart Brand & Larry Brilliant for The WELL, Howard Rheingold with his Virtual Reality & The Virtual Community books, MIT's Media Lab, a couple of Steves & an Andy at Apple, Robert Abel & his associates, Bob Metcalfe, Bob Cringley, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Cailliau, Industrial Light & Magic, and every netizen who shows me how the net can be a great place — just to name a few.
Who can we look to for leadership? I hope there's only one source of leadership on the Net and that's us, all of us. We all must share the responsibility of leading the Internet, every time we log on, if this is going to work. Net Vets know why it's important to pass down the history, culture and responsibility. I just hope this marvelous idea continues toward its potential and steers clear of wannabe Big Brothers. Yea, I have my net favorites, but I won't name them. I will say this, they all wear proverbial white hats.
[IB] In the article you wrote entitled In Search of Web Excellence, you described the adventure of trying to define this elusive paradigm. Internet Brothers has observed the sharp overall improvement in web offerings — a delightful trend, to be sure. Commerce certainly drives some of this, as does technology and personal ambition. How has developer growth and experience changed your definition of "Web excellence?"
[MM] I find myself appreciating web authors more for what they refrain from doing these days. The technocrat in me still applauds mastery of bells and whistles. However, it's the designer side that stands up and cheers for well thought-out, elegant, practical solutions. The best authors serve their audiences, not themselves. The proliferation of templates and computer-generated sites has blurred my definition of "Web excellence" somewhat. If I can't recognize who did what, where do I send the award?
[IB] OK, here's a softball question to give you a little breather. What does Míc do for entertainment? Favorite authors, music, movies, travel locations; whatever comes to mind.
[MM] I enjoy connecting to whatever silly, serious or in-between level my daughter chooses. My daughter helps me unwind, reflect, and enjoy life again through young eyes. She reminds me what's really important and most precious. I owe Someone big time for blessing my life with her.
I'll watch anything with computer graphics or optical special effects, even CNN. I like listening to classical music such as Led Zeppelin. I'll read or watch any kind of science-fiction, but I'm pretty selective when it comes to the other genres. My leisure reading these days is next to nil because of this industry's required reading.
Proceed to part 3 of Internet Brothers interview with Míc Miller.
Return to part 1 of Internet Brothers interview with Míc Miller.