Interviews With Early Web Developers · Bobbie Osborne 2

What this is about:

Roberta Osborne. Here is someone you would like to know. This lady is plain and simply a nice person. Known as Bobbie, Boz, or Bozzy she also happens to be a fabulous independent web designer and content producer. Presently parking her crayons in southern Illinois after a lifetime in California, Bobbie is the developer of the award-winning and very popular Crumpled Papers. Home to such delightful concoctions as Coffee Break Inspirations, Teen Graffiti, Trash Can Graphics and Tissue Paper Journals, Crumpled Papers is an eclectic collection of stuff you might find in an old shoe box. In other words, you might stay for hours. Internet Brothers interviewed Bobbie in late-June 2000. [Editor's note: Crumpled Papers has been retired.]

Jeff ClarkThis is your friendly interviewer, Jeff Clark, as he appeared in 1999. Time changes things.

Doing It By Hand

Youth Support

[Internet Brothers] Hear that readers? From a technical web development perspective, you've managed to deploy very intricate table work with a nice combination of style sheets without becoming overly cluttered. Was this a challenge? For the beginners out there, what proportion of your time did you spend planning strategy, designing, and actual coding?

[Bobbie Osborne] Hmmm, a challenge? Yes, I would say so. Mostly, because I am my worst critic and often use programs that would make most professional designers cringe. I learned on shareware and subsequently taught those programs to the teens I worked with for quicker gratification and the fact I didn't want to use anything the average person couldn't master or afford. When I get lazy or in a hurry on personal web sites I have a tendency to fall back on the good ol' WYSIWYG programs and end up spending more time cleaning up the coding than if I had just done it from scratch. I have also always been of the philosophy that it is not about the bigger, better, brighter "keep up with the Jones" programs that are available (an often elitist attitude), but about your own personal talent and willingness to learn and experiment.

I am still planning, strategizing, designing and coding all the sites I work on. The day I quit working on them is the day I need to take them off-line. As for, it's an anomaly on the Net. I spent about two years experimenting with different styles and ideas before purchasing the domain. I then worked four months fine tuning and seeking advice before it was inadvertently launched ahead of schedule as a daily link on The site continues to be an enjoyment for many people in spite of me, and very little promotional effort on my part.

For the beginners out there, <laughing> like me </laughing>, my advice would be:

“The learning curve is quite a bit steeper for people like myself who have entered this market as a hobbyist. We, the second career people, often have to ferret out technology advances for ourselves.” — Bobbie Osborne

Pixelita Power

[IB] You support many copyright and trademark causes as well as being a member of Pixelitas. This group of women web designers strives to encourage and teach. Where do all the resources come from?

[Boz] It's not the causes as much as the people behind them that I support. In the case of the Pixelitas, I am empowered by their personal strength as individuals and as a group. This group is as diversified in their personal lives as they are in their creative styles. From the housewife to the professional designer, these women have a bond that many strive for; they love what they are doing and encourage others to do the same.

They are constantly learning from each other and sharing their combined wealth of knowledge. I think what I respect about them the most is that regardless of skill levels, they work very hard to keep their world a positive experience for all involved. Wandering around the member's web sites is a great place to start for web related resources. Between them, they cover almost any topic you could think of related to web development. If they don't have it, they're linking to someone who does.

It's because of a copyright link that I discovered this group of women in the first place. They take a very strong stance on copyright and trademark issues. Due to the ease of transmission via the Internet, the names of original authors and creators are often lost as more and more people send other's work via e-mail. The Internet is a virtual gold mine for plagiarism and since the dishonest will always be dishonest (short of lawsuit threats), it's the little people getting caught in the web of ignorance that concerns me the most.

[IB] By day, you work for a local Internet Service Provider in Illinois. How has that helped improve your web development skills, or perhaps it's the other way around?

[Boz] Those of us in the baby boomer age group didn't cut our teeth on technology and it wasn't an ingrained aspect of our education. Unlike current high-schoolers that crunch code for breakfast and play with hardware as a substitute for Barbie, the learning curve is quite a bit steeper for people like myself who have entered this market as a hobbyist. We, the second career people, often have to ferret out technology advances for ourselves.

Nerf Gun and Darts This is where GlobalEyes Communications comes into play for me. On a web development level, the guys I work with go out of their way to teach me things I would have never learned in a lifetime as an independent designer. Windows of thought and doors of opportunity are constantly being opened for me. Working for an ISP provides me with a basic level of understanding of how the Web works from a hardware / software perspective. It also allows me to view the Web through the eyes of the "average jane/joe" net surfer. Both are invaluable experiences for honing web development skills. As we all continue to bridge the generational and gender gap in technology, I will always consider myself the student in this little scenario.

On a very personal level, this is the first job I ever had where nurf darts as well as spit-balls on the ceiling seem very appropriate to the environment. What do you get when you mix testosterone laden IT junkies with a burnt-out social worker that has a background in the graphic arts? <grin> Is my boss going to be reading this? </grin>

As the (umhumh) middle-aged tender gender member of this boys club, I think I am able to bring a slightly different perspective to their whiz-kid worlds. I already know they'll keep me on my toes, open-minded and laughing. After all, when was the last time you bartered a web site for cookies or accidentally redesigned your company's spinning global eye logo to rotate backwards, with acceptance?

As futurists nudge us toward the reality of their ideal vision, the perfectionist in us will dream of improving that which needs no improvement. I am as restless as I am happy and it's a winning combination. This is a great time to experience something you've never done before. Besides, they're going to teach me how to set my laser printer to stun! Who could ask for more!

[IB] Bobbie, my sincerest thanks for your insight and enlightenment. For the readers, Bobbie is too modest to mention it, but Crumpled Papers has collected many of the world's top-rated web awards including Project Cool Sighting, Yahoo! Pick of the Week, WebbieWorld Hot Pick, and Twist Magazine Cool Site. In the web community, Crumpled Papers is what's known as a "sticky property." You will want to stay for hours, then return again and again. [tag, you're it!]

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