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Jonathan Steuer: online publishing pioneer

image Jonathan SteuerA couple months ago my friend Justin Hall alerted me that the Wikipedia article on Jonathan Steuer had been flagged by an editor concerned that it did not “satisfy the notability guideline… for inclusion on Wikipedia.” Justin, whose own Wikipedia entry stands unquestioned, thought I might want to do something in response. I did, but didn’t know what until now.

I didn’t want to just go in and edit the entry on Wikipedia even though a quick look at the notability guidelines told me they’d be easily satisfied by a gathering of citations and sources, mortared with a little exposition. But I wanted to profile Steuer in the “People” section here before going in to edit his Wikipedia entry.

First, I’m going to demonstrate that, as “the subject of multiple, non-trivial published works from sources that are reliable and independent of the subject itself and each other,” Steuer certainly meets the definition of “notable” specified in Wikipedia’s guideline.

Jonathan Steuer is, as the Wikipedia article in question says, “a pioneer in online publishing.” In addition to leading the launch teams of a number of early and influential online publishing ventures (such as HotWired, the first ad-supported web magazine, and c|net’s online operations), his article “Defining virtual realities: Dimensions determining telepresence,” is widely cited in academic and industry literature. Originally published in 1992 in the Journal of Communication 42, 73-9, it has been reprinted in Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality (1995), F. Biocca & M. R. Levy (Eds.) and is freely available in PDF format.

image of vividness and interactivity matrix
Steuer’s vividness and interactivity matrix from that article appeared in Wired magazine circa 1995 (I don’t have the exact citation) and has been particularly influential in shaping the discourse by defining virtual reality in terms of human experience, rather than technological hardware, and setting out vividness and interactivity as axial dimensions of that experience. Some years ago I made this simple Flash version of the vividness/interactivity matrix for my own use in teaching.

Steuer’s notablity in diverse arenas as a scholar, architect, and instigator of new media is documented in multiple, independent, non-trivial, published works, some of which I will proceed to list here.

Some books and print articles that discuss Steuer’s role in the web publishing industry that emerged in San Francisco in the 1990s (if you know of others, send ’em in via comments):

  • Net Voice in the City by Yoshihiro Kaneda, ASCII Corporation, Japan, 1997, pp. 88-107
  • Architects of the Web by Robert H. Reid, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1997, pp. 289-292, 296-297, 299-300, 302-303.
  • “Webheads on Ramona Street,” by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Issue 722, November 30, 1995.

Some books and print that draw on Steuer’s definitions of virtual reality and telepresence (again, let me know if you have titles to add)

Besides the printed works above, Steuer’s article is taught in university courses (for example, this Ethics class, this English class) and is cited in many online works, a few of which I list here:

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