Boating on the Internet - 1995

Articles by Bob Stepno, from Soundings magazine

Datawaves logoAbout these pages:

The links at the top of the page are the first two articles (and a collection of Internet addresses) from a Soundings magazine series called Datawaves, started in 1995. They were meant to introduce boating enthusiasts to the World Wide Web and the uses being made of new communication technology by people like them, and by boat businesses.

Soundings staff writers took over the column after my first few articles, while I buckled down to my doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina. Thanks to the university's Web server, I created an online version of the collection of boating links mentioned in the early articles. A few of the sites have sunk since then and the list hasn't been updated regularly, and I only made minor changes while writing a few more Datawaves columns in 1997. For now (Summer 1998 through Spring 1999) I'm entirely occupied with my schoolwork, and I'm afraid I have to let these boating pages just sit here as a "cobweb" and historical artifact. Check out the print edition of Soundings at your local newsstand! It has a neat new design and staff writers are integrating boat-Web information in many of the stories.

I started writing about boats and computers a few years before Datawaves, when I was on Soundings staff covering New England boating for a living. (I even got to experience a hurricane with my first name and see my pictures printed under the headline "Bob was here.") I also helped Soundings publisher look into the idea of putting his classified ad section online. After telling him all I could find out about services like Prodigy and CompuServe, I went off to write about computers and experiment with my own (now defunct) boating bulletin board in Newport, R.I. Meanwhile, the Web happened, Soundings found its first Internet access provider, and I got the call to launch Datawaves during my first summer vacation from grad school. (More recently I've discovered just how far inland a hurricane can come looking for me.)

The first two articles -- the August 1995 cover story -- were also published in an early version of Soundings own Web site. They were an experiment in using the Internet to write about the Internet, too. Almost all of the interviews were conducted by electronic mail. In most cases the subjects sent along their own Peter Meekpictures to go with the articles, including Peter Meek (right), the purveyor of hats with the logo of the newsgroup. Some of the folks pictured told me later that they had swapped email for years, but had their first look at each other in Soundings. I wrote a follow-up article about fishing on the Web, then turned the monthly column over to Soundings' staff while I got on with my graduate work and helped build the weekend editions of the Nando Times, an electronic newspaper based in Raleigh, N.C.

Now I'm getting toward the end of graduate school and I'm helping fill a couple of installments of Datawaves this summer. This page is here in part to give folks I interview by email some idea of what they're getting into. (Meanwhile, Soundings online classifieds have evolved, and the magazine's Internet presence is being redesigned during the summer of 1997.)

If any of this raises any questions or ideas you want to pass along, drop a line to

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