Author: Matt Waldman


Molly Holzschlag, a well-known Web standards advocate and author, told students in the Master of Internet Technology program at the University of Georgia that the goal of widely accepted standards for Web developers to follow remains an elusive target, even a decade after the Web Standards Project was established.

Holzschlag was an invited guest of the Terry College of Business and spoke Sept. 16 at UGA’s Gwinnett campus, where the graduate students in the MIT program take their classes.

“We were very excited and proud to have someone of Molly Holzschlag’s caliber visit and speak to our students,” said management information systems professor Craig Piercy, who directs the MIT program. “Through her work with the W3C [the World Wide Web Consortium] and the Web Standards Project, she has become an ultimate insider into the latest and upcoming standards underlying the most disruptive technology of our time.”

Piercy noted that Holzschlag has been prolific as an author and lecturer about the World Wide Web, which is still relatively young as a technological medium. She has written more than 35 books related to Web design and markup language and is the former Group Lead of the Web Standards Project.

Known for her engaging personality as a speaker and blogger, Holzschlag drew upon diverse and entertaining subjects such as cars, biology, and even characters from the CBS sitcom “Big Bang Theory” to make humorous and telling points to the students about Web browsers, why they continue to be an emerging technology, and the challenges they present for Web developers.

“More and more, I am convinced that the browser is really the platform,” said Holzschlag, who cited Google’s new Web browser, Chrome, as an example of a growing trend of developers abandoning other data platforms to use the Web to store and retrieve data. “That’s really a big shift in the way we do things. It’s the rise of the Web as applications rather than the Web as a site. When you have anything on the Web that is highly interactive you are really building application software.”

Piercy and the MIT students had even more reason to be excited about Holzschlag’s appearance, because she is an example of the type of trailblazing expertise the MIT program will have access to as the first graduate degree program to form a formal partnership with the W3C and the Web Standards Project. These organizations have agreed to provide the MIT program with speakers and advice on curriculum from industry leaders at Adobe, Opera, Yahoo! and Microsoft, Piercy said.

Holzschlag, who professed her admiration for what she has seen at the University of Georgia, said she is amazed by the growth of Web development as a profession and industry in such a short span of time. “This is the first Master of Internet Technology class that has ever taken on this kind of a task, and it is extraordinary to look at what has happened in 10 years,” she said. “It is really starting to hit me how impressed I am with the dedication of people (working) for quality education over the long term to improve our lives. What better gift can we give to the world?”

Watch Molly’s lecture