20, No. 13, Feb. 1, 2001
On the Job:
Forrest, News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 333-1085; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
campus webmaster, Steve Miller is responsible for the upper-level
Web pages on this campus's Web site, www.uiuc.edu. His job
is to make it easy to navigate for on-campus users and those
from around the world..
Since arriving on campus in 1996, Steve Millers been a
full-time research programmer, better known as the campus Web administrator
or the campus webmaster. His position is half-time in the campus Computing
and Communications Services Office (CCSO) and also half time in the
Office of the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs.
What do you do as Web administrator?
Im responsible for the upper-level Web pages on this campuss
Web site, [www.uiuc.edu]. My job is to help make our Web site easy to
navigate for both on-campus users and those from around the world. I
consult on campus Web-technology issues and also help some organizations
manage their sites.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Its an ongoing challenge to keep all the main campus Web pages
and their links accurate and organized in a way so that all types of
users can find the information theyre looking for. Campus organizations,
units and programs are always changing, both in title and Web site location,
so the main campus Web pages that link to them also must change. There
are nearly 1,000 units and programs to keep track of. And unlike a printed
directory, Web pages are expected to be accurate all the time. Keeping
up-to-date on Web-related technologies is also a major challenge. So
I do a lot of reading, review other sites both academic and commercial
and talk with other webmasters to stay abreast of the technology.
What got you interested in computers and Web administration?
Just before I retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1995 as a Major in
communications and computing management, I saw a co-workers computer
running an early version of the NCSA [National Center for Supercomputing
Applications] Web browser "Mosaic." Part of my job at the
time was to deploy photojournalism and photographic crews to cover military
events around the world. The Web seemed like a good way to publish our
stories and photos for internal use. Several months later I demonstrated
the technology to Air Force leadership in the Pentagon which helped
initiate the Air Forces first experimental Web site. After leaving
the Air Force, I entered a PhD program at Southern Illinois [University]
and ran their main Web site as a grad student. When the UI public affairs
office and CCSO created a full-time Web administrator position I applied
and was selected.
Are you working on any special projects?
The campus Web is exciting to me because it has so many powerful problem-solving
uses. We always have new projects under development. Were building
virtual campus tours that include 360 degree panoramic views from points
all around campus. Weve taken thousands of digital photographs
so far to construct the site. Were also building three-dimensional
views of campus for a set of Web-based interactive campus maps. Were
finishing up a Web site on the history of the university that contains
high-resolution archival photographs showing the first campus buildings
and influential people through the present.
What is your educational background?
I have a bachelors degree in art and design from Southern Illinois
University [at Carbondale] and a masters degree in human resource
development from Webster University in St. Louis. I completed one year
of studies toward a doctorate in education from SIU. Like many other
webmasters, Im self-taught, because there hasnt been much
in the way of formal training until fairly recently. Now there are many
courses on campus that cover the software applications and programming
skills that webmasters often need.
Do you ever get any strange or funny e-mail messages from people who
have hit on the UIs Web page?
At first I thought they were strange but now Ive come to expect
the unexpected. Some days there are over a 100 e-mail messages to the
webmaster. I get the standard requests from parents wanting to know
more about the UI at one end of the spectrum to foreign grade-school
students requesting obscure facts about certain types of dinosaurs.
(The UI hosts a great site about dinosaurs, by the way). Another e-mail
asked for advice on treating an ill horse. And of course we have one
of the best Vet Med schools in the country which I forward e-mail to.
If its something I know about or can find the answer Ill
try to help them. But most e-mail is forwarded to the appropriate department.
You said you retired from the Air Force. What was your job in the military?
I had several jobs because they tend to expect people to have a broad
range of experiences. In additional to journalism and photography management,
I helped produce a monthly 30-minute film and video program of Air Force
activities around the world to show the troops the diverse missions
of the Air Force. I also managed nuclear missile crews on alert in underground
silos in Little Rock, Ark., and Wichita, Kan. Ive lived in nine
different states and four foreign countries and have traveled through
many of the countries in the free world, including the South Pole.
What are your interests outside of work?
I have a pilots license and have flown down to the Bahamas and
Mexico many times on vacations. My 17-year-old daughter and I love to
scuba dive the Florida Keys and Catalina Island off California. We hope
to dive the Great Barrier Reef in Australia soon. We also water ski
Clinton Lake in the summer and just snow skied near Galena.