Netdiver magazine

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Web stars speak

/ Interview with Josh Kneedler

Josh Kneedler is Interactive designer for Dreaming America.

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.

/ Do 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.

/ You 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.

/ Looking 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 America.

As a side venture within Dreaming America, I work as an editor/designer for rangermag.

They are two very different animals, but they both work together within the interactive industry.

/ What 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.

/ Describe 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.

/ Describe 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 movie.

This was 1994. From there, we did more video editing projects until the multi-media/web days started to kick in around 1996.

/ What 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.

/ What 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 before.

/ You 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 cameras...in 1994.

/ What 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 project.

/ How 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.

/ What do you look for when hiring?

People that know how to mix professionalism/attention to details and know how to have fun.

/ What makes a good web site?

Minimalism.

/ How 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.

/ How do you sharpen your talent?

Getting away from the computer is really the one thing that keeps me sharp.

Ideas are everywhere.

/ Describe 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.

/ Describe what is *inspiration*.

It's that feeling you get where you can't wait to express yourself.

/ Describe 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 time.

/ How 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.

/ Explain the value of peers recognition.

It's nice to think that a community is building.It's also wonderful to bounce ideas around.

/ Is 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.

/ What 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.

/ Describe 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.

/ Describe 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

/ What is the single achievement that makes you most proud?

Just that rangermag is up and continues to move forward.

/ If there were no budget limitations - which single dream project would you launch?

This is going to sound cheesy, but we've already done it.

Working with independent content on rangermag is all I really want.

/ Give 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.

/ What 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 reality check.

/ In 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 people.

/ Is 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.