Milton B. Carter is our new editorial operations director, succeeding Senior Editor Bob Brown, SI's pioneer in supervising the development of the electronic technology we are installing for the use of the editorial staff. Carter has been closely involved with computer-based publishing systems since 1966, when he began with John Seybold, a titan in the field, and he has since done important work for several publications, including U.S. News & World Report. "No more than one or two people in the country know more about this stuff than Milt," Brown says.
Carter was born in Maryland, grew up in Wilmington, Del. and served four years in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from high school in 1958. He worked for a time at a GM assembly plant in Wilmington and then began an intensive study of computers at the Business Machine School in Philadelphia. In a sense, he has been studying them ever since.
Carter lives in Weston, Conn. with his wife, Lee, whose father, a retired physicist, and brother are both computer experts and who is herself a systems analyst with Pepsico. They have two daughters, Shane, 11, and Becca, nine. An amiable man with a dry sense of humor, Carter places great importance on the human factors involved in computer operations. "New technology in any field requires an understanding of how people react to it," he says, and laughs, remembering an experience he had when he and his wife were living on a farm in Pennsylvania. "We bought a goat," he says. "The man who sold it to us told me to be sure to keep it on a chain for the first few weeks until it got used to its new home. He knew farm technology. But we had a big barn, and I figured the goat would have plenty of room to move around, so I wasn't too concerned about the chain. I put the goat in an enclosure in the barn where they used to keep calves. Before I could close the gate she bolted past me, scooted out the barn door and was gone. I saw that goat only once again, hanging around in a field with a herd of cows. I tried to get her, but she took off, and that was the last I saw of her.
"You can't just jump into things. You have to get used to new technology. What we're doing here is more than just replacing typewriters with word processors. We're trying to bring people from where they are to where they want to be technologically. We're changing from a paper environment to an electronic environment. But the people have to be comfortable with it first.
"It's like learning to ride a horse. If somebody says, 'Get on and ride,' who's going to get on? But if you get to know the horse, pat its nose, sit in the saddle, after a while you begin to feel comfortable with it, and you learn to ride.
"People have sometimes been neglected, and technology works well only if you can balance it with people. That's what I want to concentrate on, not just the 'bits and bytes' stuff."
COMPUTER WHIZ CARTER: PEOPLE COUNT