At first glance, the OBS Archives Site appears to be an outdated list of hyperlinks with layout and formatting reminiscent of the early 1990s. At that time, Mosaic browsers and hyperlinks were completely reforming our ideas about creating and sharing information. The Internet was just entering into the public consciousness. The world was changing, and OBS was there. And now, our archives offer a kind of online publishing museum from back when there was still dew on the Internet.
The relevance of our archives page was brought into sharp relief this week with the passing of South African president and peace advocate Nelson Mandela. Back in 1994, Mandela published a book called Long Walk to Freedom; OBS designed and built the website for this book for Time Warner (now AOL), for promotional purposes. At the time, a “marketing front end” site like this one was quite a novelty – the embedded hyperlinks and images were so cutting edge, defying the whole notion of a book as a container! – and in looking at it now, it’s both amusing and inspiring to see how far we have come. We can remember demo’ing this site at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with a crowd of people standing before our big screen (one of the few with an Internet connection), pointing and talking to each other in many different languages. Truly a precursor.
The feature film based on Mandela’s book, entitled Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, premiered in London yesterday. In an eerie twist of fate, as his daughter walked the red carpet at the film’s London premiere, Mandela passed away in his home city of Johannesburg. A brave soul, a kind heart, and a fearless leader, Mandela remains a beacon of hope and an inspiration to us all today. Here at OBS, we feel incredibly grateful and honored to have helped in a small way to forward the mission of one of history’s truly great men. May he rest in peace, and may his cause never be forgotten.