Scotland's site of power owes much to its webmaster

When the Scottish Parliament needed a Web expert, Hazel Martin was voted the ideal candidate

When the Scottish Parliament needed a Web expert, Hazel Martin was voted the ideal candidate

Computers were bulky contraptions confined to physics labs when Hazel Martin moved to Scotland. The World-Wide Web was science fiction and the Scottish Parliament hadn't existed for 300 years.

Today, 22 years on, Martin is Web master at the Scottish Parliament, responsible for maintaining and developing the Scottish Parliament's Web site - a site she helped design and build last year.

Martin has little formal IT training and her career history is, in her words, "chequered and disorganised". However, she says her training in librarianship proved to be an excellent grounding for being a Web master. "They require similar core skills - the analysis, organisation and presentation of information."

Working as librarian she gained computer experience early on, and when she joined the Scottish Office in the early 1990s she was one of the first to get a Web connection. "Within a couple of weeks I was identified as an Internet expert, and by the time I left the Scottish Office I was running the intranet and external Web site."

Last April she was seconded to the Scottish Parliament to set up its Web site. "We did it all in six weeks. One problem we faced was that the organisation didn't exist. We knew we would have an enormous amount of information but at the time we didn't have access to it so we could only plan for it."

Throughout her career Martin has always worked in Scotland. Although her home town is Belfast, she feels an affinity with the country. And while it may not offer as many IT opportunities as London, she says the benefits outweigh this one drawback.

"I have been to London and contemplated working there because obviously there are more jobs. But the quality of life here is better, there is much less anonymity and of course we have easy access to the countryside," says Martin.

The Web has expanded her opportunities, and she has no plans to leave Scotland. Instead she will continue her work at the Scottish Parliament. "We are due to move to new premises in 2001. Obviously, that major change will be reflected in the Web site, and I would like to see it through," she says.

Curriculum vitae

Name: Hazel Martin

Age: 49

Qualifications: BA Hons in English, Diploma in Librarianship

IT skills: online searching and integrated library package, management skills, HTML (Microsoft Frontpage, Macromedia Dreamweaver), Photoshop, Windows applications

Job title: Web master

Favourite spot/hangout: walking by the River Shimna in the Mourne Mountains

Favourite film: Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen

Martin on Martin: big, brilliant, witty

Best thing about working in Scotland: the future

Worst thing: the weather

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