1. Whose idea was it for you to have a website?
My family moved to Boston in 1985 when I won the Boston Symphony Orchestra bass trombone chair. Our oldest daughter was in first grade that year and within a few years we bought our first computer - a Macintosh SE. We decided to become an Apple Computer family because at that time the Lexington, Massachusetts public schools all had Macintosh computers and we felt it would be wise to have the same platform at home that our children would be using in school. I have to smile when I think back at that first computer we had - with its eight inch diagonal screen and massive 20MB hard drive (!) I thought I had more computing power on my desk than it took to send man to the moon. We remain a loyal Apple computer family today.
In the early '90's the words "Internet" and "email" began to be talked about. The first commercial web browser, Mosaic, was launched in March 1993. By October 1994, the first version of Netscape was made available (for purchase). In July 1995, Netscape 1.1 was released and what we know as the "world wide web" was unofficially launched. It was at that time that home users had ready access to the www. With the release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer in August 1995, the browser wars were on.
At that time my family was attending Hope Christian Church in Winchester, Massachusetts, a church of which we were a founding family. I was a founding Elder in the church and led worship; my wife taught Sunday School and played piano for worship. One of my best friends - both then and now - was J. Stanley Oakes. Stan was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ as the head of their ministry for college professors, Christian Leadership Ministries. Stan and his family lived in Winchester for several years while he looked for suitable property to locate CLM's ministry base. But that search was not fruitful and my best friend moved to Dallas where CLM would ultimately find its home.
In early 1995 Stan called me and said he would be coming to Boston and would like to meet me to talk about something "cool." I jumped at the chance to see Stan again. Little did I know that when we met at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel (now the Doubletree Guest Suites) on Soldier's Field Road in Boston, Massachusetts, my life was about to change.
Stan had a laptop computer (the first I had ever seen) hooked up to the hotel room telephone. With me watching in rapt attention, he proceeded to connect to the Internet via Netscape and up on his screen came a beta version of a site he called Leadership University. It had a graphic interface of a university campus and as Stan clicked his mouse over various parts of the screen, different "departments" came to life in new screens. For the first time I was observing someone surfing the Internet.
To say I was intrigued was an understatement. Sensing my growing awe and knowing that my mind was racing, Stan started talking. "Look at this. This web site can be seen by millions of people around the world. It's an amazing tool for getting messages out, for disseminating information. Point, click, read. It's all here. I want you on board."
I didn't even have to say, "yes." Stan knew that I was already pushing ahead in my mind. I saw immediately what he was driving at. But what did I know? I had never sent an email message. My computer didn't have a modem. I had no idea what "being online" would cost. But all of that was easy to solve when I started imagining the possibilities of being a presence on the Internet. Stan told me that he envisioned Leadership University being a place where thousands of Christian college professors had websites that would allow them to show the best of their academic work informed from their Christian worldview. This concept immediately appealed to me. Stan said that he wanted me to work with CLM to set up a website over which I would have complete control but which would serve as a model of what a teacher could present through this new medium. Dizzy with the thought, I told Stan I was on board - even though I knew nothing about html or any of the other technical things which would be necessary for me to realize all the Internet promised to be.
2. How, then, did your site get set up?
In the coming months Stan and I were in almost daily contact as we brainstormed about my website. He introduced me to Keith Seabourn who at that time was CLM's Internet director. I signed up for an email account at Boston University where I was on the faculty. Through the fall of 1995 Stan, Keith and I talked about Leadership University and how my website would fit into it. LU began to undergo an evolution at that time as well. While originally conceived as a home for personal websites of thousands of professors, the emphasis changed to having it be a repository for tens of thousands of articles penned by thousands of professors. Several individual websites would be set up in various disciplines of which mine would be the "flagship" arts site. Netscape was rapidly developing new tools for the Internet including frames and tables; the protocol for printing web material was still being standardized. Our conversations ranged from the philosophic (what will the message be?), to the rational (what will the content be?), to the practical (how can I find time to do this?) to the technical (can someone help me learn html?). It was a wonderful, fast paced and exciting time.
3. Who designed your website?
Charlie Woods was CLM's primary web designer in those early days. He set up the site in consultation with Keith and me, wrote the initial html code and produced the first generation of graphics. Some of you who visit my website today may remember this header graphic that was on my website from 1996-2001:
Together, Charlie and Keith along with Greg Crider brought me along to understand html (hyper-text markup language) so I could take over the process of updating my website myself. Using Fetch, a Macintosh FTP (file transfer protocol) program, I rapidly began to understand how to code and upload pages so I could keep my website up to date. We had a lot of large and small decisions to make.
4. What did your website look like at its beginning?
The inital content of yeodoug.com consisted of my large article on taking symphony auditions, my article "The Puzzle of our Lives", a page of links, my schedule, my biography, a list of publications and several other resources. There was a Shockwave file on the home page that played a bit of Haydn's "The Creation" as music notes and images of trombones floated by. I had not yet recorded any solo CDs (I recorded my first CD, "Proclamation," in September 1996) so I did not offer any products for sale. We wanted my website to be an "endpoint" - a place where people would go to get information, rather than an "intersection" where people go to get pointed to then follow links to information on other websites. From the very outset, though, I was committed to do something that no other major orchestra orchestral player had done: I invited email contact from site visitors so I could interact with them personally.
Little did I know what the impact of this decision would be. I felt that personal contact was an important "face" to put on my website. I knew that people would likely email me with questions about the trombone. What I did not expect was the huge number of people who had questions about life. In the 10 years since yeodoug.com was launched, I have received nearly 100,000 email messages from people from around the world. The "Contact Douglas Yeo" button has been one of the most heavily used links on my website. Recently this commitment has become nearly overwhelming so I have had to step back a bit from the unbridled availability of myself that has become so time consuming. But I remain willing to engage people on important issues while at the same time offering my thoughts on myriad subjects not through email but through the growing number of resources on my website.
5. Why did you name your website yeodoug.com?
At the time my website was launched, CLM did not have its own dedicated web server. CLM's websites were hosted by iclnet. Keith Seabourn told me that we would eventually move my site to a CLM server where it would have its own dedicated web address and name so I had to come up with a name right away that would begin to establish my online identity.
In the mid-90's, my wife and I were very involved in some important educational and social issues in our town including sex education and condom distribution. Our view on these matters was not shared by everyone in our town and there was more than a little hostility towards us from time to time. Such is the cost of taking a stand for something in which you believe. One day when coming home from work, I pulled behind a car at a stop light which read, "Yeo, Douglas! Get a life!" Needless to say that got my attention! I was dismayed at this public expression of insulting hostility toward me while at the same time thinking that it was clever to spell my name properly and play off the common greeting, "Yo, Douglas!" I had this in mind when I chose the name yeodoug.com - I would take something that some meant for harm and embrace it as something good (this was a practical application of one of my favorite Biblical principles, said by Joseph in Genesis 50:20a: "...you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..."). Also, by using yeodoug.com, I thought I might encourage people to pronounce my name properly - that is it sounds like "YO" rather than "YEEEEEO" or "YAY-O." I don't know how successful that strategy has been, but "yeodoug" has become my online identity. Because my website was ultimately going to be about much more than the trombone, I did not register a domain name like trombone.com or bostontrombone.com, although a few years ago I did register basstrombone.org in the event that I wanted to set up a site that had unique bass trombone content. If someone happens to go to basstrombone.org, they will be directed to yeodoug.com.
6. When did yeodoug.com go public?
Keith Seabourn posted my website pages on a CLM test site that was not available to the public so I could see how it was developing. On January 26, 1996, a full Beta version was launched so we could see how the site performed on the web and we could get some initial feedback. In February 1996, the Boston Symphony took a United States tour which brought me to Texas where I spent a free day on February 12 with Stan and Keith working on the site at CLM headquarters. I have vivid memories of being huddled around various computers, trying to work out bugs and finally Keith shouting from another room, "WE'RE LIVE!" Thus, yeodoug.com 's official birthday is February 12, 1996. A dream was coming true.
The first email message ever received from my website came on that day. It was short and to the point and made my day:
Mr. Yeo: My name is George Perry. I am a Bass Trombone student at University of Maryland, College Park. I study under Matt Guilford. I just want to say this is the most informative and well designed trombone web page I have "surfed" across. -George Perry
George, I do not know where you are today, but thank you for that encouragement. I hope I have continued to be helpful to you over the years.
7. What has happened to yeodoug.com in the last 10 years?
When you think about it, we don't get many 10 year periods in a life time. Perhaps six, or seven, or eight of them. So 10 years is a good time to look back and reflect and evaluate.
yeodoug.com received 11,000 site visits in the first 10 days after it was launched. It was, at the time, the first dedicated site on the Internet devoted to the trombone (trombone.org - another fine trombone based website, had its launch on September, 20, 1996). In time, it would receive between 3,000 - 10,000 site visitors a day, be linked from thousands of other websites, result in up to 100 emails a day being sent to me, grow to have over 350 pages of free information, have free, downloadble pdf and mp3 files, provide people with the opportunity to purchase my CDs and other materials, allow me to express myself in the marketplace of ideas and become one of the Internet's most popular music sites with trombone-related content. My many articles on the trombone, on my Christian faith and worldview, and on other, non-musical interests (including the sculpture of Daniel Chester French, and French gothic cathedrals, for example) give glimpses of my pluralistic life. In 2001 yeodoug.com had a major site redesign with new graphics and further modifications were made to the graphics in 2004. In 2003, after eight years of hosting yeodoug.com, Christian Leadership Ministries decided to spin off many of the sites that were being independently run by individuals such as myself. This parting was done in a wonderful way with mutual thanks and appreciation for what had gone before and an interest in ongoing partnership. Since then, my site has been hosted by Paul. R. Payne Consulting in Seattle. Paul has provided me with excellent service and technical support; I could not be happier with all he does for me.
People often ask me what program I use for my website pages. I don't use any program. I hard code (that is, I personally type) every character of the html code. I find this gives me the best flexibility and control over my material. I don't use frames, java or other things you find on other sites. My goal is the have my site be easy to navigate by anyone in the world no matter what kind of computer, browser or operating system they are using. yeodoug.com will not crash your computer!
As I look back on 10 years of being on the Internet, I am profoundly grateful for the people who had the initial vision for yeodoug.com. Stan Oakes (who is now Chancellor of The King's College in New York City) and Keith Seabourn (who, with his wife, Kay, serves with Campus Crusade for Christ in Orlando, Florida) come to my mind frequently - without them, there certainly would not have been a Douglas Yeo website 10 years ago. By getting in on the Internet near its beginning, I have benefitted from that longevity as people have come to my site for information, encouragement, help and support. The contact I have made with thousands of people over the years - most of whom I have never met - has been extremely rewarding. While at times the email contact with people becomes difficult because of my schedule and the sheer volume of messages, I have always found myself bouyed with the thankful comments that come my way after I have given someone some assistance. I was put on this planet for a purpose, and one of those is to reach out and share what I have and what I know with others. I have been blessed to have had people in my life who have done this for me and it is my great joy to return the gift to you, people who come to know me through my website. 10 years is a long time. Over that time, there have been millions of visitors to my website. Tens of thousands of email messages have come my way. And thousands of you have purchased my CDs, books and pens. I am a blessed man to have a loving and supportive wife, children who make me proud every day, friends who offer me their help (and can also tell me things I need to know but don't want to hear), and, most of all, a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. To all of you who have supported yeodoug.com over these 10 years, I offer you my profound thanks and gratitude. You have changed me as I hope to have helped you.
©1996-2013 by Douglas Yeo.
All rights reserved.