About me: See http://stepno.com
From the late 1970s to the late 1990s, I was definitely ahead of my time. I started using a computer terminal as a writing tool when “The nation’s oldest newspaper of continuous publication” put one on my desk in the ’70s. That helped convince me to “retire” in 1980 to explore anthropology, music, folklore, and academic computing at Wesleyan University, first using the university mainframe for the note-sorting and rewriting of an ethnographic project, but learning enough about writing with computers to take a career detour into technical writing and p.r. for a word-processing software company, then returning to write a master’s essay about hypertext in 1987-88 and meet Computer Lib visionary Ted Nelson in the process. I was a regular reader of the alt.hypertext Usenet group when Tim Berners-Lee used it to announce his hypertext-based World Wide Web project, and when Marc Andreesen used it to announce the Mosaic Web browser, the final straw that sent me back to grad school for a faster Internet account — and eventually a doctorate, trying to use a quasi-ethnographic approach (getting my money’s worth from that anthropology/ethnomusicology master’s) to mix “information science” and “mass communication research.” Conclusion: I couldn’t find a “mentor” who understood what I was doing, so it took much too long, but I got the dissertation done in 2003. In Web years, that made my “online journalism” dissertation almost a work of history by the time it was finished… So my research and writing to a “historical” turn after that.
Despite years as a journalist and more years as a graduate student and teacher, I do write hypertextually in this blog — with lots of revisions, digressions, linkages, asides, footnotes and parentheses. This style is not the best for quick reading on the Web, but I always felt it did provide resources for students who might want to delve deeper into a topic. And, if nothing else, I believe I can serve as a bad example for those looking for more efficient structure and linear thinking, or as a poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Now, thoroughly retired, I dip into this blog once in a while to share pictures and random thoughts. And I continue to do some research on another “old media to new media” transition: Using a website called JHeroes.com, I explore the treatment of “newspapers” as a topic in the early days of radio, through the portrayal of journalist characters in radio series of all kinds. (In the process, I’m also exploring the Internet resources that oldtime-radio collectors have discovered over the past 30 years, gradually digitizing and uploading tens of thousands of radio programs that we could only read about (or buy on expensive tapes) back in the 1960s when I was first fascinated by tales of “The Green Hornet” or the 1940s “Adventures of Superman” broadcasts where The Daily Planet crew took on “The Clan” and Fascists at home and abroad.
Now back to my original “About” page content, some of it written a dozen years ago, when I was terribly excited about my last teaching job — the one that I have now been retired from for about as long as I held it:
About this blog: The title and subtitle pretty much say it all. I used this WordPress.com blog most heavily when I was teaching journalism full-time at Radford University. (Radford did not provide its own user-friendly blogging platform for faculty. A few of us tried, unsuccessfully, to get support for a Drupal-based or WordPress-based home page and blog server in the School of Communication, as mentioned in my first post, from June 2009. This site gradually took over as my most-used blog, succeeding ones I’d been writing for most of a decade at Blogger (http://boblog.blogspot.com (still in operation, but I’ve shifted its focus to music) and radio.weblogs.com (archived at http://stepno.com/oldblog when the original service was discontinued), as well as the Harvard-crimson-colored Red Liner blog I started in 2003 while a hanger-on at Dave Winer‘s Berkman Center blogging group.
About the ads: For now, this site is hosted by the free wordpress.com service in exchange for my letting WordPress post ads at the bottom of some pages. As a logged-in user, I don’t even see the ads, so I certainly do not endorse any of the products or services that appear there. If you see any ads that you find offensive, please let me know by submitting a comment at the bottom of my most recent blog post.
The notes below and sample pictures refer to the site’s original layout. (WordPress allows you to change the theme or “look” of a site without altering the contents, except for header images and the location of menus, etc.) In May 2013 I switched to a more “responsive” WordPress layout to improve its usability on small tablets and phones. I’m still testing and may switch again. In the process I also added a plaid background similar to my home page at stepno.com.
About the picture at the top: It changes with the seasons, or more often. The heading picture is one of the things I can customize in this free WordPress theme, called Coraline, an August 2010 replacement for the simpler “Cutline” that I started with, and liked a lot. Alas, it is no longer available on free WordPress blogs. I’m not as happy with the blockish black menu, but Coraline allows a lot more flexibility, which I may experiment with as time permits.
Picky, picky. It’s still free hosting, a great public service and terrific software. Anyhow, back to the pictures…
My first image was a freight train, possibly as a visual pun about linkage or information overload or something. But mostly because it was my own — a shot I took of a train crossing the New River here in Radford, Va. — and it fit the dimensions of the page header.
When we had record snowfall in the 2009-2010 winter, I posted a horizontal format picture of the foot of snow on my porch railing. When the snow melted in time for Radford University’s Charter Day celebration, I greeted spring with a slice of the balloon-releasing photo that also appeared in the blog.
I also brought along the camera to graduation, and took one of my all-time favorite photos — the centennial graduating class facing a headwind, but smiling. I put it on the School of Communication homepage (fortunately captured for posterity by the Internet Archive, since a colleague and I could not convince the powers-that-be to support our Web-publishing ideas), I decided not to put this photo at the top of my personal blog. But here’s a copy:
Next, for early summertime, I saw my cousin Sarah’s Facebook shot of herself in some (Vermont?) highland meadow, which inspired me to share a shot from my home-office window, one floor up from that previously snowy deck… which began a theme of shooting pictures of that view at different times of the year, and when I’m in different moods.
Winter 2013 was reluctant to let go, and inspired this spring snowfall picture, followed by one of the cherry blossoms outside the Radford student center. (They had one last shock of snow and a few unseasonably cold days before temperatures rose into the seventies a few days later.)
Topics here include classes I teach at Radford University, media history, online journalism and Web design.
For a year or two after retirement, I continued to post items about the newspaper industry and newspaper journalism at http://aejmc.net/news (where I was founder and later co-editor) and more personal, less-academic or less-journalistic items at http://boblog.blogspot.com, which I eventually made a music-mostly blog.
For most things that interest me, I once used the “del.icio.us” or “delicious.com” bookmark server, now defunct. (Archives are at https://del.icio.us/bstepno) I resisted for years, but eventually started using Twitter and still tweet at http://twitter.com/bobstep; I use RSS feeds to try to connect this messiness at http://stepno.com and in the blog sidebars.
(The Twitter items also used to echo on Facebook, giving some friends the impression that I’m on Facebook more than I was.)
With the demise of the radio.weblogs.com hosting that I’d used for most of a decade, I gave this site the name of my old blog. Previous pages archived at http://stepno.com/oldblog. As long as it is my main blog, you can get there with the alias address http://stepno.com/blog
If any of these blog hosts disappear, I’m very findable through my personal home page is http://stepno.com
- http://jheroes.com — An online book about old-time radio’s portrayal of newspaper reporters, with hundreds of hours of playable radio shows… my attempt at mixing media and a cultural history of the journalism profession, which once was mine.
- http://boblog.blogspot.com (mostly fun and music)
- http://www.radford.edu/rstepno (my academic pages)
- My main home page — stepno.com