Current pages: weblog and new home page

Note: This "/ec/" directory is an archive of pages previously located on Emerson College's
Web server at "" from 1999-2003

Bob_Stepno @ stepno . com
Who? (also what, when and more...)

My first bylines were set in molten lead at one of the nation's oldest newspapers, The Hartford Courant, which eventually put a computer keyboard in front of me. As a result, I've been writing with (and writing about) computers for about 25 years. I've been a writer and editor for a software company, for national magazines, and I spent a few years as an editor at one of the Web's first 24-hour news sites, the Nando Times, while working on my doctorate at the University of North Carolina. In September 1999 I moved to Boston to begin teaching about news, computers and the "digital culture" of the Internet as a full-time member of the journalism department at Emerson College.

In 2003 I was in transition again. I moved out of my memorable fourth-floor-walkup office in May after Emerson sold the 130 Beacon St. brownstone that had housed the journalism department. Next came a summer 2003 trip to Chapel Hill to finish off my Ph.D. (Part of my dissertation on the evolution of a news website had already seen the light of day as a conference paper for an MIT Media In Transition event.) My final role at Emerson was as adviser on the last of my students' master's projects.

Then what? Stop in at for further news about my post-Emerson career. Please switch any e-mail address listing for me to an address. If you have bookmarked Web pages I created, be aware that they will fade from Emerson's server, if they haven't already. However, you'll find archival copies of my " /..." work relocated to"

Emerson gave me a great opportunity to teach and learn, so thanks to all of the students and colleagues who have made the four years an education. Coincidentally, I'm not the only one leaving: My attic office will become someone's $4 million condo, while the Emerson Journalism Department settles into new quarters across the Boston Common, ironically upstairs over a bar named Pravda.

What I (& my students) did at Emerson...
Some of these student projects from my courses link to personal pages subject to change or removal; others were "frozen" on deadline as final-exam projects, warts and all. Others may be restricted to on-campus access.

What I did (& do) elsewhere...
My teaching and research interests include the use of computers by journalists, educators and communities -- real and virtual, including nautical-virtual and musical-virtual. I'm intrigued by the way "online" can pull together elements of print and broadcasting, for better or for worse.

Perhaps these "converged" media will someday appear to do "ivrything" for us the way the newspaper once did... according to my favorite 100-year-old Irish bartender, Mr. Dooley... which introduces to my other research interest -- the history of communication technology and journalism technique, including the innovations of a scandal-mongering newspaper from the 1920s.

(It's hardly "history," but a 20-year-old story and photo are the oldest examples of my own journalism online, resurrected by the organizers of the born-again New England Fiddle Contest.)

In addition to teaching about old and new media at Emerson, I served as advisor or co-adviser to the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Emerson and an excellent but short-lived student Digital Media Group.

It's very dark 
out in this picture...
from my office window, at quitting time...

My 130 Beacon St. office window looked up Berkeley Street and toward skyscrapers around Copley Square, quite a switch after North Carolina's old oaks and loblolly pines. For folks who want to see what I did in Chapel Hill, here's is my old home page, with links to things like the syllabus for the first course I helped develop, Electronic Information Sources, as Professor Deb Aikat's first teaching assistant.

Evangelism & lab notes:

Nuts and bolts:
This page was made mostly on Macintoshes, using BBEdit, Tex-Edit and whatever other Web page creation tools were handy. On Windows machines, I've used Notepad, Homesite and Arachnophilia (by Paul Lutus, whose CareWare concept is a breath of fresh air). Lately, most of my students have moved on to Dreamweaver, which among other things does a nice job of cleaning up quick and dirty pages made with word processors.

Before they get distracted by multimedia bells and whistles, I advise students to see Jacob Nielsen's for thoughts about "usable" information design. Journalism students will notice that Nielsen says writing in newspaper style is a valuable skill online. I'm also a fan of the Yale CAIM Style Guide for Web page design, and of Philip Greenspun, who wrote Philip & Alex's Guide to using open-source software to build database-backed, community-oriented Web sites like the online community. (Philip is a triple-threat: programmer, photographer and a fine writer.)

The right column of this page has links to about 100 of my favorite Web sites. Those links are from my thousands of bookmarks, which I'm gradually sorting into categories to post at my new home.

Last revision: Sept. 24, 2003

  Sites I use...

TypewriterBob visually morphed to 
MacBob. Old media into new