Gearing up for DIY Summit: Kevin Lawver

17 Sep

Kevin Lawver is a Web Developer with an extensive knowledge and passion in XHTML, CSS, javascript and web standards. He has worked for AOL for the past ten years, and is currently rocking his development skills at Music Intelligence Solutions, a small music technology company that helps independent artists build a legitimate web presence. He has worked on several AOL and AIM applications, including AIM Photos and AOL Search. He also served as product manager, project manager, architect and lead developer for Ficlets, a now shut down site based around the idea of a “choose your own adventure” story. Ficlets are short stories, ranging between 64 and 1024 characters, and each user would have a chance to pick up a narrative thread by adding a prequel or sequel. Ficlets won a 2008 SxSW Web Award in the CSS Category, and true to the nature of the site, the acceptance speech was written by the Ficlets community.

Kevin uses his expertise to not only develop software, but also gives many presentations on web development. Ha makes those presentations available to the public, too, which is a great service to education in the spirit of open source. You can find those presentations here. Kevin’s latest endeavor is the study, use and education of Ruby on Rails, an open source web development tool that use the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture to organize application programming. MVC is an architectural pattern used in software engineering. The pattern isolates business logic from input and presentation, permitting independent development, testing and maintenance of each. He used Ruby on Rails in the development of both Ficlets and AIM Photos.

Amidst all of his coding and web standards accomplishments, the most relatable and arguably the greatest thing Kevin Lawver has done is the creation and implementation of the International Day of Awesomeness. He talks about that incredible invention in this informative and inspiring interview with Michael Nolan at SXSW in 2008 (with a cameo shout-out to our own Leslie Jensen-Inman! @ 3:55 and 5:40):

Love the blue hair. I spent the better part of my adolescence fighting with my mom for the right to dye my hair blue. Time and maturity let that desire fall to the wayside, but seeing Kevin Lawver’s latent bravery in the endeavor may have just whet that appetite once again…

Kevin currently resides in Savannah, GA with his wife Jen and two sons, Brian and Max. He and his wife run a blog together called UltraNormal where they discuss not only their projects and professional labors, but their personal lives as well. They blog often about their children and family outings, and post some really adorable pictures. It’s also worth mentioning that his sister, Heather Lawver, started a Harry Potter fan site at 16 and was heavily engaged in legal battles with Warner Brothers that got her coverage in the likes of USA Today and a documentary called “We Are Wizards,” which premiered at SXSW in 2008. She now runs the blog The Heather Show.

Even though I have a very limited if not entirely nonexistent knowledge of code and web development, I know from watching his SXSW interview that Kevin Lawver’s presentation tomorrow will be engaging and informative. I’m going to do my best to comprehend as much as I can, though I’m anticipating a lot of it going way over my head. Regardless of my ignorance, I still find Kevin’s body of work impressive and inspiring.


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