"I managed to get him to talk about himself and Micscape Magazine!"
The Mol Interviews by Vanessa Summers...


Approximately from June 2003 (UPDATED HERE 2017)
My Questions Mol's Answers
     
"Are you the driving force behind Microscopy-uk and Micscape Magazine? "No. The people contributing are. If people didn't contribute articles to Micscape Magazine, it would all end. Myself and Dave walker serve them."
"What prompted you to try and start a Microscopy presence on the Internet?" "I had just really discovered enthusiast microscopy after creating some software to emulate using a microscope. When I looked on the Internet 7 years ago, there was simply nothing there to support the hundreds of people I knew were practicing microscopy as a past-time. There were one or two very professional sites but nothing for the enthusiast. I approached one of the existing sites to ask for an area dedicated to enthusiasts. The snotty, arrogant reply I received back angered me. I decided to try and create a presence that would be far more helpful to those people like myself who were not professionally involved with microscopy."
  
 "So you started it single-handedly?" "No. Not at all. I merely had the idea and motivation. I was fortunate enough to have made contact with Dave Walker (long-term editor of Micscape) and Bill Ells (longest running contributor), who both felt the Internet would offer a potential for Enthusiast Microscopists - where most other people could not see the opportunity. We started with a few articles written by Dave, myself, and Bill. There were several other people prepared to make contributions: Mike Samworth, Mike Morgan, Ken Jones, Andrew Syred, Marly Cain.
  
"What reaction did you get from the Internet community when you published Micscape for the first time?" "Not a lot: the internet was a completely different thing 5 years ago. Very few microscopists were online. I remember when getting a hundred hits in a month was like winning a lottery. But we kept at it. It is a remarkable fact that mainly through the enormous contribution of one man - Dave Walker - that Micscape has been published on time every month since it first began in November 1995! But interest in the publication grew and acted as a beacon to others interested in contributing to the project. I think it took 2 years before we could really say it was established.
  
"How many people run Micscape & Microscopy-UK today?" "Micscape is mostly managed by just a few people: Dave Walker, Anne Bruce, Wim van Egmond, and to a far lesser extent - occasional input from me. But these are only the few who actively update the site, toil over other peoples contributions to organize material for web-publication. Many, many more people are involved because they actively contribute articles, images, content, and comment. Micscape Magazine is the result of everyone who either contributes material or visits the site and provides feedback. It is truly a collective effort and in many senses - owned and steered by those who contribute most.
  
"Has Micscape changed much since it was first published?" "In the beginning - I had the desire to make its style far less formal than it is today. I tried quite hard in the beginning to drive the style down my idea of what I wanted to see. I wanted it to be very informal and untraditional - hoping this would encourage people to contribute and not be put off by formality and tradition. With hindsight - this was wrong! I think the magazine works well now because it adopts the style of those who contribute most. Today it seems nicely settled into a friendly almost-informal presentation. Since it is the product of those people writing articles, it is also styled to their personalities and microscopy perspectives.
  
"Does Micscape and Mic-UK take up much of your time?" "Anything to do with the Internet means ' time' - lots of it! I guess no-one truly appreciates or understands the tens of thousands of man-hours and woman-hours that have been expended running our site. Not just my time but everyone involved - in particular the editor - Dave Walker. Without doubt - Dave has contributed the greatest amount of time of all of us. If there were no Dave, there would be no Micscape! His effort has been, and still is - superhuman!
  
"I get the impression that behind the scenes of Mic-UK and Micscape is this big happy throng of people all getting on together and agreeing with what is published. Am I right?" "Not quite. Its true to say - we all get on... but not without disagreement. With any collective effort - due to the various perspectives and views of the different people involved - there are bound to be differences of opinion. Sometimes small and sometimes very big indeed. If you work with other people over a good length of time - you learn to respect their views even when they are completely different from ones own.
Micscape has survived and prospered because it has taught each of us much about how to cooperate with one another and overcome differences of opinion when they occur. Many of us are now friends. Where we are not good friends - we are good colleagues to each other. I think this is how it works in professional organizations and certainly we are fortunate that everyone involved looks at the good of the site and its resources and puts this before any individual aim.
  
"Is Microscopy your number one passion?" "No! That might come as a surprise but microscopy is probably about 4th or 5th down my list of passions and certainly a notch or two after some of the others things I really enjoy doing. I guess you are going to ask me next - what is my number one so I'll pre-empt your question: it's my art... or should I say - I love creating images and this is, without question, my top love!
  
"I see. What do you see as the long term position of Micscape and Mic-UK?"  "That's easy to answer. Micscape Magazine will continue long into the future. I am hoping to make arrangements so that it will belong formally to the people who contribute - much like charitable organizations. If I can establish this then it is very likely to survive. Mic-UK is merely a holding site for microscopy in general but it is Micscape Magazine which is the important thing.
  
"I can't think of any more questions right now so before we end the interview - is there anything you would like to add here?"  "Not really... er.. well yes... there is one thing..."
  
 "Go on... what is it?"  "I understand Larry and you have split up. Well.. I was wondering... what are you doing tonight?"
  
   

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