Hawaii’s Web Utopia – Providing information with unlimited potential

So you think you wanna be a “Webmaster” huh?

Do you know the code? Can you handle punching that code for 40+ hours a week on a sparse lunch diet? Are you able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

Well, ok. That last one is not a requirement, but on some days, the life of what some call a “Webmaster” may require one to think this way.

Yes, the life of a Webmaster. Sometimes glamorous and glorious, sometimes not. Sometimes strenuous and stressful, sometimes, well, always strenuous and stressful.

Attaining that peak level of performance in this industry is sometimes a daunting task. There is more competition than there is opportunity, and that opportunity never seems to stay constant. Changes in industry standards bring forth new and often intimidating code, design sets and skills.

When I first started college at the University of Hawaii, I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. Four years of High School gave me skill sets that included athletics, music, student government and some video production, but nothing that had my name written all over it.

I fumbled and stumbled through my first semester at UH and when I started to get the hang of things, I got involved with extracurricular activities and courses to find my niche. I wrote for the campus newspaper (Ka Leo O Hawaii), took theater classes, and even had a short stint as a DJ for the school’s radio station (KTUH). I wanted to find something that would grab that fire inside of me and take control.

One day, I followed my friend to the computer labs. He just started learning this new Internet code they called HTML. With it, you could publish a worldwide accessible document on the Internet.

The spark ignited.

I found my calling. Utilizing the combination of journalism and computers, creating web documents (or pages) for me came naturally.

Code after code, page after page, I worked the wee hours of the night away. I started that fire inside of me that would not go away. Eventually, I got the hang of “it”. I spent enough time online – both viewing and developing web sites – that I started to understand the whole paradigm of what I had gotten myself into. I started to realize that maybe I could actually make a career out of this love/obsession.

My first web site was hosted on the university’s servers. Things started slow, but the site eventually gained quite a bit of notoriety. It was just a concoction of a number of subjects that interested me, including sports, entertainment and cars. Soon, it gained enough of a following that I became the #1 hit web site on the UH servers. I was later told to remove it from the servers due to bandwidth constraints.

By this point, I started to realize the potential of the web, as well as myself. I started getting a little more serious and focused my attention on the business potential of the Internet.

Since then, I have done commercial web sites, as well as “themed” web development. One of the more notable web sites that I am proud of is the memorial web site that I did in memory of the great Israel Kamakawiwo`ole (www.e-hawaii.com/iz/). Proud because of its tremendous success, despite it’s non-commercial nature.

Now, I work for Oceanic Internet. My title is Assistant Web Editor. I handle a lot of the web content for the popular, high-speed cable online service called Road Runner. I also develop much of Oceanic Television’s corporate web site’s (oceanic.com) content.

I thoroughly enjoy what I do everyday and am happy that I have found my niche. My best advice is to try your hardest to stay competitive. This market is very competitive. The moment you lose your edge is the moment you lose your job. Stay in touch with your (online) surroundings and never specialize. Once you do that, you are obsolete.

Being a “Webmaster” can be fun and rewarding. The market is vast and can always be impacted by one individual. Those people in Hawaii, whose primary task in life is to make the online world a better place, is ever abundant and still growing. Like myself, they have found their Web Utopia.

I spoke with two of these “Webmasters” making a name for themselves, and the web site(s) that they develop.

David “Kawika” Talisman is the president of the Honolulu based web, film and video production company True Digital (www.truedigital.com), and had this to say about his experiences as a Webmaster in Hawaii.

“I came from the film and video production side. It was a natural progression onto the Net because I was using the net to improve my editing.

About 3 years ago, I started to get serious about web design because I saw that as our future. More importantly, business in Hawaii was starting to decline seriously so I felt I better start moving into the Net Technologies, which had no geographical limits.

The future of the Net in my humble opinion is in its incredible ability to provide information with unlimited interactive potential. I see Internet Video as the new frontier. The future is that the computer monitor will soon be the equal of the TV set for delivering top-notch programming and information.

I think more and more that being a Webmaster is becoming more like being a Producer… Just like with film and video, you have to be familiar with many different kinds of technologies to be successful.”

Blaine Fergerstrom is the Webmaster for the Honolulu Star Bulletin’s news daily web site (starbulletin.com). He gives this piece of advice to the Hawaii Webmaster wanna-be.

“If you want to be a webmaster, never say die. Let nothing get in your way. Work harder than the next guy. Remember that some kid fresh out of college wants your job and will take it if you become lazy. Learn all the essential disciplines involved with your job. Don’t learn one tool and stop there. Take some graphic design classes.

Realize that the Web is no different from print or any other publishing medium. Your job as a Web designer is to deliver information to the reader in the most efficient manner possible in an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

Gen-X design is not always appropriate to the subject matter at hand. Don’t overdo it with backgrounds, blinking gifs, layering. Often that stuff gets in the way of the information–big mistake. Your readers don’t necessarily appreciate it.

Back up frequently!”

Great advice from two great “Webmasters” of Hawaii. Now, maybe you can leap those tall buildings in a single bound.

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