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Unraveling the web's story

Remembering Molly, one of the greats

I just learned that Molly Holzschlag has passed. She was a tireless advocate for the principles of the open web. She fought for them for decades, and she never stopped fighting for them. She was an uproarious champion of the web and she always, always, always led from her heart. When I started this crazy project, I would come across her name all the time. There’s almost no corner of the web that she hasn’t left her mark on. She worked on the web standards project, and at the W3C, and on browser teams, and with all sorts of big companies. The web has lost something truly great, but it is unquestionably better for all of the work that she put in.

I forgot exactly when Molly and I first got a chance to talk but it must have started with a correction. She caught of wind of my project one way or another, and shot me an email with a suggestion to change this thing or that. An exchange of emails led to an exchange of numbers. And from time to time, Molly would check in and we would get a chance to talk on the phone; sometimes for a few minutes, and sometimes for an hour.

She was such a wonderful supporter of my little history project. And she was so damn tough too. Every once in a while, she’d respond to one of my newsletters with some adamant alteration to one of the facts I had laid out or an addition to something I had somehow missed. She pressed me to get to the truth of the matter at all times. Not just the truth that others told. But the real truth behind it all. I’m so grateful to her for that.

I didn’t get a chance to ever meet her in person, or spend time with her like so many other web makers have, but I’m so honored that she took an interest. And it wasn’t just about what I was writing. She always made time to get to know me. To ask about me and my family, and I was even doing all of this in the first place. If you follow Molly’s work—her legacy now—that’s something that will be immediately apparent. The web, to her, was a place for people. Real people with real stories. And our job as creators on the web was to make real people’s lives better. Everything else was just noise.

So thank you Molly. For pushing for web standards and the open web and a better web. For writing your books and sharing what you know. For facing off against anybody who needed a push (even when that person was Bill Gates). For being the loudest in the room when no one was listening to what everyday people needed.

If you have a few minutes, listen to how Molly talked about the web or read what she had to say about the power it gave people.

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