I’ve always loved to write. I’ll never forget the thrill of drawing my first letters in a first-grade workbook. I was then lucky enough to have a series of English teachers who encouraged me to keep writing. In college I took mostly English courses until I got bored with talking and writing about books and switched to a music major. At the time I was playing a lot of music and wanted to study something more precise, logical, mathematical. I now realize that’s also what eventually drew me to Web information architecture and that along with all the other grips and moves I now use to wrestle with language, I listen to its sounds and rhythms with the many of the same parts of my brain I discovered doing “ear training” in a college music lab.
For a variety of reasons, I didn’t pursue a career in music. After college, in the years before the Web, I worked in journalism, then TV production, then wrote a book (a biography of an Alaska pioneer) and ran a grassroots environmental organization. All that had to do with communication, which then got me into personal computers early on. My first Web work was for a regional electric utility, writing and structuring sites for thousands of customers in three states. That led to a wonderfully fascinating and rewarding decade (Dotcom Era + 5 years) working for a smorgasbord of companies–everything from ad agencies to tech startups to Boston Children’s Hospital and Verizon Telecommunications.
In 2008, right about when most big companies finally realized they should invest in high-quality Web content, I got my first job as a “content strategist” and I’ve been calling myself that (and a “Web writer”) ever since. I’m living in southern Florida now, working for clients as far away as a telecomm company in Alaska and as close as a friend in the office next door launching a biomaterials company. Besides my Web work, I’m getting back to doing more journalism, non-fiction writing and marketing communications for print media. Each new gig is intriguing, challenging and fun in its own way, and I’m truly grateful for that.
~ John Howe (November, 2015)