Start at the beginning…

[UPDATE: Yes, I wrote this quite awhile ago, and have updated very little I’m in the process of updating it in September 2005 I updated it in September 2005, then touched it up in March of 2006, then again in September 2007, and yet again way out here in March 2009, but man, things move pretty quickly these days. Grad school’s going swimmingly, and this is my third semester here Grad school is really more of a side project at the moment. Grad school is almost over! If this isn’t recent enough for you, just drop a note in the comments to this post. Tell me what you want to hear more about.]

Just after I started blogging, an old friend wrote to ask me what I was doing in Journalism School.

I wrote the post that this used to be, and it explained things, somewhat. Some of that old explanation is here, and some of it is gone. I don’t think you’re reading this because you want to know every detail of what I’m doing in grad school.

Want the short version?

Ryan Sholin (that’s me), among many other things, is a graduate student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications at San Jose State University. He’ll graduate with an M.S. in Mass Communications sometime in 2007 2008 May 2009. He writes on this blog about the busy intersection where Media, Technology, and Education tend to get into three-car accidents with multiple injuries on the scene. There are fewer side trips into the realms of Politics, Theory, and Culture these days as I try to focus on New Media and the Future of Newspapers (hint: they’re the same thing). I take all of this quite seriously, but it is not my intent to bore you. I swear. Really. (Did you notice how I stopped talking in the third person in the middle of this paragraph?)
The long version follows…

Maybe I should start at the beginning…

The Short Version of my recent past, for those catching up:

After finishing film school in 1998, I pretended to try and write a screenplay or three while working in independent film, music videos, commercials, and the occasional days on children’s televison. All this was swell, but after some travel in February of 2000, I realized how flat the United States looked to me. I had seen lots of it, the ends and the middle part, and with politics being what they were, I decided that teaching English in Spain would suit my desires to get back out into the big world. I set Labor Day weekend 2001 as the target date to get out of New York, and leave America behind.

May 2001 a friend calls and offers me a couple weeks of work in the Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. Two days later I would fly from JFK to Albuquerque, missing out on far more lucrative work in New York. I was also skipping a planned trip to Memphis for a longtime family friend‘s wedding, where I was also going to meet long-lost relatives, and make the pilgrimage to Graceland.

I promptly fell in love with a girl in New Mexico, flew back and forth a few more times between New York and Albuquerque, and worked many hot days in July and August to pay for the moving truck.

I drove away from Manhattan with all my belongings in a 14 foot Uhaul on September 1, 2001. That’s not a typo. I left on the First of September, as planned, on Labor Day weekend.

Stuff happened in New York after I left, and if you saw the wreckage of the World Trade Center that first night, it was because friends of mine were setting up the lights – yes, those were movie lights that first night.

I spent a year in love in New Mexico. I learned to bartend, got a gig at a small hotel, and immediately joined the film union and went back to work carrying heavy things around. Meanwhile, my girlfriend had been accepted to grad school at UCSC. So we moved all our stuff out here to Santa Cruz, I went back to New Mexico to finish some film work, and proposed marriage upon arrival in California.

She started grad school, I started two bartending jobs, we got married, and late in 2003 I applied to the History of Consciousness department at UCSC.


Politics had turned so disturbing, so fast, that I found myself yelling out all the unanswered questions at rare Presidential press conferences. No one asked the questions I wanted the answers to.

So I started wondering why. Why is it so easy to believe what the mainstream media feed us? Why do we believe what we believe? Who do we trust?

I read some postmodern philosophy and semiotics trying to get to the guts of these questions, and applied to grad school with some vague ideas about changing media from the inside.

I didn’t get into UCSC, but there were just so many things I wanted to learn.

Late in 2004 I remembered that there was another university in the neighborhood.

For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed my Highway 17 commute from January 2005 through December 2006. People who stay on one side of the hill or the other think it must be awful. Ladies and gentlemen, I drove about 45 minutes each way through a FOREST. Over a MOUNTAIN.

Once upon a time I rode the F train at rush hour back and forth to work in midtown Manhattan. In the winter, sweaty with the heat on, everyone with thick coats, stinking and steaming on the stuffed train.

Now During my Hwy. 17 commute years, sometimes in the morning when the sun hit the valley fog just right, just after the turn with “VALLEY SURPRISE!” spray painted on the concrete divider (Who the heck buffed that? It was a far better warning than a frigging yellow sign with an arrow gently doglegging to the right, okay?), everything was perfect.

So why J-school, or Mass Communications, or Media Theory, or whatever I’m calling it this week?

Because there are messages that aren’t getting through to the people who need to hear them the most.

I’m interested in how those messages are filtered, and in tearing down the existing barriers to communication, whether they be technical, political, cultural, social, or economic. Yes, I’m an idealist, but there’s good work to be done here. Spreading powerful new communication technology to the places where it can do the most good — that’s a goal.

Other Vital Information:

  • Really Happily Married
  • one cat two cats — does this count as blogging about my cats?
  • historic work experience includes bartending, motion picture lighting & rigging, photo assistantship, administrative assistantship, and retail record store clerkship
  • places I’ve been include about 38/50 U.S. states, Spain, France, Italy, Morocco, Venezuela, and I’m pretty sure I set foot in the Bahamas on a SeaEscape day cruise once
  • Yes, I am that guy you knew at North Miami Beach Senior High School, Highland Oaks Junior High School, Highland Oaks Elementary School, and/or The Cullowhee Experience.

7 thoughts on “Start at the beginning…”

  1. I was hoping the blog would tell me what it is you are doing for the spartan daily. ?!?!
    nice info on your journey. I didn’t realize you’d left new york when you did or that you were getting into politics.
    yaaaaay the internet!


  2. Wow. And I thought I had an active travel life! I’m impressed, Ryan. To tell you the truth, I am in the same boat as you insofar as the current state of politics. I think you should join There’s a lot of angry shouting, but when you get to clash intellects with Shirley Wershba, it does seem to turn your ideas on their ear.


  3. Ryan, you were my favorite kid to fling boogers at. Your wavy-grazy hair made for an excellent landing area for hardened balls of mucus. God bless the child.


  4. Just to correct the PLACES YOU HAVE BEEN note….you left out MEXICO as you were in Cancun and I have the picture of you someplace with a pirate on a boat there.
    If you were on a Sea Escape thingee…it was on your own. I don’t remember ever taking you there.

    Marilyn (aka: Mom)


  5. Ryan would you like to be a guest on my show this thurs. night (6/15/06). The topic of the one hour live call in TV show is an analysis of the recent elections. The show is titled Voices, and it airs every thursday from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. The airs on cable local access channels 27 and 72. Please call or e-mail me asap @ 831 423 3926 or e-mail


    Tom Conant


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