Web stars speak
/ Interview with Josh Kneedler
Josh Kneedler is Interactive designer for Dreaming
As of 3.15.01, I am 29 and working as an interactive designer.
I started Dreaming America with Scott Benish in 1994. It's been an exciting
and frustrating experience to watch the internet struggle out of its infancy.
We released *rangermag* in October
of 2000 and have recently released the 2nd issue. It's a labor of love that
I hope will continue for a long time to come.
I live in Portland, Oregon USA. It's a great place with an ocean to the
West and mountains to the East.
I love to travel, but Portland I think will always be home.
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/ How were you first introduced to the internet?
In 1991 I was taking an engineering course. One of the assignments was
find a partner, log in to the school's network, and figure out how to send
"electronic mail" to one another. all I remember is that we were
scratching our heads a lot.
I don't think we even completed the assignment.
you remember your first impression of the internet?
I can remember surfing with mosaic in the college library computer lab.
Oddly I was not blown away by the internet. My first impression really was
lonely college kids staying up all night chatting on irc and surfing...
It was kind of sad really.
are an *internet pioneer*, what exactly does it mean?
It means that I can remember a life before the personal computer.
I can remember odd memories like coding BASIC programs with a Texas Instruments4/99
in the early 80's and saving those programs on a audio cassette.
I guess more importantly I can remember a life before email and web sites.
I was fortunate enough to graduate from college in '96 when the web was
exactly at its early infancy stage.
I was idealistic enough to completely believe that I could make a life/career
working in this completely new industry.
Lastly I think being a pioneer means suffering through the infancy process
of the internet. Browsers fighting for compatibility, working through the
"shakeout" process, and watching technologies emerge like flash/dhtml/streaming
media is valuable experience to acquire.
at your track record, you have a *multiple path* education. Why?
Not really. on the business side I work as a designer for my studio, Dreaming
As a side venture within Dreaming America, I work as an editor/designer
They are two very different animals, but they both work together within
the interactive industry.
was your initial profession?
Dreaming America started within college so I haven't had another profession. Though
it sounds ideal, but of course it isn't.
There have been some extremely lean times.
your present professional activities and why you chose it?
I'm involved in creating, producing, and coding interactive projects.
Professional activities include a fluent use of design software, strong
communication skills, and custom programming.
your path to becoming a professional designer.
My path started at KBVR which is a campus TV station. I wrote a screenplay,
asked my friends to help with production, and we shot & edited a video
This was 1994. From there, we did more video editing projects until the
multi-media/web days started to kick in around 1996.
is your favorite designing material. Why?
Video has a nice texture to it. I like low res photographs as well. I like
playing with distortion and contrast.
makes for a good project?
It has to start with a good story or a fresh idea. From there it is simply
exciting because you know that something will be created that wasn't there
are a creative head. When did your love of visual art start?
It started when I was little watching the 3d motion graphics that were
used in football half time shows. There was an instant wonder of "how
is that done?" after that I was very impacted by working with video
do you look for when hiring creative talent?
It's a gut instinct. It's kind of rare to see talent that blows you away
just by looking at someone's work.
I really just need to feel that the designer is motivated to create a successful
do you promote your talent and land gigs?
Essentially we keep working - holding onto an unsaid set of ideals that
we've crafted over the years.
Basically, we try to listen to the people that like our work. Those relationships
are the ones that tend to lead towards jobs.
do you look for when hiring?
People that know how to mix professionalism/attention to details and know
how to have fun.
makes a good web site?
did you get involved in content publishing?
We somehow got the idea that we would produce RangerMag because we loved
the idea of the magazine look/feel applied to a web site.
From there, it was the idea of finding real stories and enjoying the process
giving those stories their own unique look in an online magazine format.
do you sharpen your talent?
Getting away from the computer is really the one thing that keeps me sharp.
Ideas are everywhere.
what makes a good team?
I think fewer members and stronger skills.If everyone can focus and
communicate, there is a chance for a successful project.
what is *inspiration*.
It's that feeling you get where you can't wait to express yourself.
what is a top-notch client.
A top-notch client has a product or service that we can believe in, who
is committed to creating a successful project and... pays their bills on
do you protect clients from their own bad taste?
You create a space of give and take. There needs to be open communication
channels when the project is taking place.
the value of peers recognition.
It's nice to think that a community is building.It's also wonderful
to bounce ideas around.
branding an important issue online?
The current state of branding is out of control. Companies spend more money
on branding than on creating the actual product.
Branding is more than plastering the logo on every page. I'm open to other
ways of establishing a brand.
was the catalytic thought that gave birth to RangerMag?
We can create emotional impact completely on our own terms. We can be in
complete control.....down to the last pixel.
what the internet means to you.
It's new territory. It's expressing an idea in a medium where the user
can write back instantaneously.
3 qualities necessary to succeed online.
1. realize that there is no secret recipe
2. be original
3. never, never, never, never send unsolicited email
is the single achievement that makes you most proud?
Just that rangermag is up and continues to move forward.
there were no budget limitations - which single dream project would you
This is going to sound cheesy, but we've already done it.
Working with independent content on rangermag is all I really want.
a one line counsel to newbies.
Never send unsolicited email. It sounds unrelated, but it's not. It's a
common newbie mistake.Make real relationships with your original
work.Realize that it takes time to reach your goals.
is your opinion of the present situation in the dotcom industry?
It's a shakeout. Companies are realizing that you can't make millions of
dollars with little effort.Basically the industry just got a big fat
your view, explain what is convergence?
You are either going to be 18" from your computer screen or 8 feet
from your television. You're going to see more TV in your web sites and
more interactive content in your TV.
There is going to be no one magic appliance that is all things for all
the www an international network?
I'm not an expert in this area. I only know English based sites. I think
translation with the Unicode standard will help make the net more universal.
/ Tell us what the future (net) looks like.
The future is standards based design.We will create something once
and it will be distributed on all applicable platforms. XML is going to
be the most misunderstood and influential technology in the coming years.