Martin Luther King Jr. Day has a special place in my heart.
My first Web site for The Seattle Times was a site we built in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I worked with editor Bill Ristow, who, like many who work with me, stared at me as though I were a maniac. 🙂 And I was. We did this site because Frank Blethen, publisher of the paper, has always felt strongly about educating the public about Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. and about supporting the holiday that bears his name. (Yes, it’s ironic, I’m at work today – but then I was at work on Sunday, so I’m a cretin all around.)
We had sound clips. We had photos. We had an essay from Julian Bond. We had timelines and a biography. And what we had then, which I notice was still on the site now, was an exchange between third grade classes in Kent (one of the more wired school systems at that time) and Birmingham, Alabama. Online proof that some kids of all races, across the country, could, well, email in brotherhood.
What gratified me while I worked at The Seattle Times was, each year in January, the site would blow the stats out of the water for the rest of the paper’s Web site. As teachers and educators around the world came to visit us, sometimes the traffic would rival the classifieds section – which you have to admit is pretty amazing for a site that was not about making money.
I’ve gone on to work on more technically complicated projects and more challenging information-architectures since then and of course the original Seattle Times site itself has mutated. But I like the fact that for all intents and purposes my Web career started off on the right karmic foot – honoring a leader who deserved the praise for the changes he brought about, and a movement of people who helped him carry out those changes, and using what was then a new medium to do it. The Web isn’t just the medium of popup windows, Spyware, and spam cams – it’s a channel by which the greatest achievements of the human heart can be transmitted, for the benefit of all.If enough people carry THAT dream, what could we not accomplish?
Live it vivid people! And a glad shoutout to the folks who embrace the differences in culture and language that this wacky world provides.