Environmental, Chemistry & Hazardous Materials News, Careers & Resources

Editor's Blog

Our twelve year anniversary

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Monday, October 22, 2007]

Twelve years ago today, on October 22, 1995, I started what would eventually become EnvironmentalChemistry.com. I remember the day quite well. I was attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a non-traditional student and after relentless badgering from one of my friends, I had been finally goaded into creating a website. This was before the heady days of the dot com bubble. It was also the days before Internet Explorer had come onto the scene when Netscape Navigator ruled the web. I had no idea what I wanted to do with a website, but I knew my friend Del would not let the issue rest until I started my website.

In the beginning my website was hosted on a NeXT server run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Mathematics Department. I wasn't a math major, but anyone on campus who had a clue knew the math department's NeXT computer lab the coolest computer lab on campus next to the Cray Supercomputers, and undergrads like me had a snowballs chance in hell of getting access to the supercomputer labs.

My original strategy was simply to throw stuff on my website to see what would stick. I was majoring in geology and fire science (with a specialization in hazardous materials), so it only made sense for me to add things related to those subjects on my site. Eventually, I had my first computer built for me (a Pentium 90), which I quickly upgraded to Windows NT4.0. The next year UAF started installing Ethernet connections in our dorm rooms, and with this I got the bright idea of hosting my website on my own computer running Apache.

As I was nearing the end of my college years, I moved my website off of the university network and onto a commercial web hosting provider under its own domain name (the less than creative KLBProductions.com). Over time, geology lost out on my site to the chemistry and hazardous materials and I began to take a stronger interest in environmental issues. In 1999 as the focus of this site revolved around environmental, chemistry and hazardous materials related topics, I had a spark of "brilliance" and registered the domain EnvironmentalChemistry.com. Over the subsequent couple of years I worked on rebranding my site from its quirky but non-descriptive title "YOGI'S Behemoth" (Yogi was my nickname at the time) to the much more descriptive and marketable EnvironmentalChemistry.com.

In the twelve years that have past since I was goaded into creating a website, a great deal has changed on the Internet. Netscape's iron clad domination of the Internet was broken by Microsoft's Internet Explorer. In time Internet Explorer rose to dominate the Internet with an iron clad fist only to see its death grip broken by a descendent of Netscape called Firefox. The dot com bubble grew and somehow missed me. Eventually, the dot com bubble exploded and left its shattered remnants scattered across the Internet. AltaVista and Yahoo came to dominate Internet search and directories only to be crushed by a new upstart called Google. Static webpages that had to be individually coded gave way to dynamic pages driven by databases and content management systems. Graphical banner ads and affiliate programs rose to dominate the business models of small web publishers like myself in the late 1990s, only to become second string filler to content targeted text ads provided by Google and others.

Over twelve years of evolution and revolution on the Internet, I have methodically nurtured this site, from a college hobby into a serious resource that is highly respected. All along I have strived to produce new articles and resources that I hoped people would find useful, informative and of superior quality. I have been slow to jump on the latest Internet fads preferring instead to take a long term approach to running this site. It is extremely unlikely that EnvironmentalChemistry.com will make me really wealthy in a financial sense. It has, however, evolved into a full time endeavor and I am able recruit scientists and professionals to write the high quality articles readers have come to expect.

Without the help of others, I could not have made this site the success it is today. As such, I would like to thank those who have leant their expertise to EnvironmentalChemistry.com. First, I want to thank my mother Roberta Barbalace, who has leant her many years of experience as an environmental professional and chemistry professor. Roberta has written many of the articles I have published, and serves as my technical editor evaluating articles submitted by freelance writers. My wife Julia also has my sincerest gratitude for all her efforts including copy editing articles before they are published. I would also like to thank all of the freelance writers who have written articles for EnvironmentalChemsitry.com. Finally, I would like to thank all of the readers who have linked to articles and resources on EnvironmentalChemistry.com and/or shared my site with their family, friends, classmates, teachers, and colleagues.

What does the next twelve years have in store for EnvironmentalChemistry.com? Only time will tell, but I hope to continue to raise the quality of the articles we publish as well as increase the frequency we publish new articles. With lots of hard work and the support of readers like you, I believe the next twelve years will be very bright.


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