A Journey Beyond Code: Celebrating Molly E. Holzschlag

Molly E. Holzschlag and Bill Cullifer

Decades ago, at a Voices that Matter conference sponsored by Peachpit Press in Boston, MA, I met Molly E. Holzschlag. Molly, a book author and luminary was more than a colleague to me, we were friends.

Teaming together, we spent a few years traveling the globe to advocate for a better web and our empathy for displaced youth. We’d share some laughter over Yiddish and sipped on a few single malt scotches. The collective laughter became a soundtrack for a few known and not so well known workshops, and events and good memories.

Our work together was driven by a deep passion for the web and its potential. We’d often discussed the organizing of the Web profession, even discussing the not so radical idea of unionizing.

We worked for at-risk youth, pushing for STEM education, as Molly did in her pioneering work and her 35 influential books on web design and development and my 20 year career of volunteering and not for profiting.

Molly and I were kindred spirits in a variety of ways. Our work took us into the Barrios of New York, Boston, Oakland and Los Angeles and numerous notable events across the globe, where we shared not just knowledge but laughter, cheap hotels and flights.

We stood together on numerous occasions with a vision for a better and organized web, opportunity for America’s youth by teaching classes, and conducting workshops for free when and where we could.

Our camaraderie was filled with some celebrations, and intellectual pursuits and unfortunately for us way too far ahead of their time. Our dream was grand yet 50 years too early– to organize a group of Web experts is a bit like that of “herding cats” in a field as vast and as complex as the world of the web itself.

We faced the highs and lows of 911, Black Monday and the rise and fall of our industry, navigating not just the complexities of the time but also the intricacies of human connection.

Life, in its unpredictability, struck us both with a rare disease. In this shared struggle, we separated and yet bonded as we faced our own mortality with a mix of defiance and humor, wondering who would outlast the other. Fortune allowed me to find a treatment, but Molly wasn’t as lucky.

Molly was a complex individual and through her humor we could see the light in the darkest of times. Her laughter wasn’t just a sound; it was a force that propelled steps forward through challenges and setbacks of the time.

We may not have achieved all of our dreams but organizing the Web is a task spanning generations, and in this endeavor, Molly and I were visionaries.

Today, as I bid farewell to Molly, I reflect on a journey filled with passion and pain, laughter and undying hope. Molly’s legacy is not just in the books she wrote or the speeches she gave, but in the lives she touched and the community she nurtured. We may not have organized the web in our lifetime, but we certainly organized doing so in our dreams. Farewell Molly, your spirit will live forever. Bill