The biographic and bibliographic timeline below is constructed from: Communication, A Different Kind of Horse Race: Essays Honoring Richard F. Carter, Eds. Brenda Dervin & Steven H. Chaffee with Lois Foreman-Wernet (Hampton Press, Cresskill, NJ [2003]). Selections from chapter reprinted with permission.

Son of Fremont Joseph Carter, hardrock (lead and zinc) miner (with a specialty in dynamiting), and Margaret Smith Carter, former English teacher. (She would later, during World War II, teach high school in New Diggings, WI, and initiate the New Diggings Junior Historical Society, and go on to publish two monographs and numerous articles on the history of the Southwestern Wisconsin mining region.) Two sisters: Marlys J. Wilkinson and Laurel L. Hamacher (deceased). Married Jean E. von Christierson, Feb. 10, 1962, in Carmichael, CA.. Daughter, Elizabeth L. Carter, born April 26, 1966, in Madison, WI.
  • 1943-1945

    As a printer’s devil he set by hand and distributed (mostly 10 pt.) type for the Benton Advocate and participated in the assembly and mailing of this weekly paper.
  • 1943

    During a family visit in 1943 to my mother’s folks in River Falls, WI, I was fortunate to be invited to visit with the local college’s professor of geology, C.G. Stratton. I had become a rock and fossil collector and exhibitor as a Boy Scout – primarily with specimens my father brought out of the mines. My maternal grandmother, Minnie Smith, who was well known to him in his administrative role as Dean of Men (she had College students rooming with her and was a charwoman at the College) had brought my interest to his attention. As part of the visit he tested me on my recall of various unlabeled specimens he had showed me when I first arrived. He then asked what I was taking in school. When he found out that Benton High School did not offer either chemistry or physics, he arranged for me to take those courses at the College the next summer for high school credit.
  • 1943-50

    While attending College, he renewed his work as a printer’s devil for the River Falls Journal. This weekly used hot lead, and his major assignment was to cast advertising stereotype plates.

    To earn enough to finish college, attended radio operator school in Kokura, Japan, after finishing basic training, and then served as radio operator in headquarters company, 1st battalion, 19th regiment, 24th division, stationed in Beppu, Japan.
  • 1945-1950

    While on manoeuvers, I contracted bronchitis and pleurisy, which, untreated, developed into tuberculosis. This led to five months in a stateside army hospital when a discharge exam disclosed the infection and then two more years in a veterans hospital for treatment. By summer, 1950, a career in field geology seemed out of the question. I opted for journalism instead. The vocational change came with one benefit. I now had four years of college credit coming for vocational rehabilitation. When three years of crusading journalism on the Daily Cardinal at the UW-Madison yielded a frustrating lack of response from the State legislature, I decided to take a masters in research to see what I could find out about communicative effects. (My masters thesis was on how the effects of McCarthyism could be mitigated by balanced news coverage.) Ralph Nafziger and Mal MacLean then encouraged me to seek a Ph.D. in mass communication research. As part of my research for the UW TV Lab, I participated in an educational TV meeting in Ann Arbor. Wilbur Schramm was also a participant. On graduation I was “traded” to Stanford for Wayne Danielson.
  • mid-1950s

    The Perceived Appeals of Television Program Content (This and six previous research studies were published by the UW Television Laboratory.)
  • 1957

    Russia’s Sputnik satellite gave U.S. public education a shot in the arm. But although it made money available for university research on educational problems, it could not erase those problems. Perhaps the stickiest problem for public education was the yearly fight for budget support and, with the influx of more students, the funds for new buildings and services. Having been assigned research responsibilities for a joint education project authored by Schramm and William Odell (educational administration), I was encouraged to author a follow-up study. The Office of Education gave us support for a group of studies, including two national sample surveys – one of individuals and the other of school districts. With the help of several nationally known figures in education, members of the Stanford faculty, and several dozen graduate students from Communication and from Education, we worked our way through hundreds of variables that could conceivably be related to (bring about) public understanding of and support for the schools. Five years, six monographs, 15 dissertations, and nine articles or book chapters later we had found some notable effects, but the picture for administrators was far from clear. For me the most relevant effect was that I had found behavioral theories and methods not up to the challenge of being helpful. They were good for conducting defensible studies, but not for solving public education’s support problems. School districts borrowed freely, sometimes desperately, the tactics used by other districts to try to pass their financial elections. But tactics that worked in one district would often fail in another. The difficulty, in part, was our focus on effects (by both the administrators and we researchers). The true nature of the problem was, and is, effectiveness. Behavioral theories and methods were not telling us enough about the structure of process, not enough to enable us to produce improved communication and understanding. Independent variables re dependent variables, however massaged statistically, were not cutting it. By the time the project wound up, I had decided to see what I could do to produce more applicable theory and method.
  • 1959

    Carter, R. F. (1959) The problem of process. Presented at the Association for Education in Journalism annual meeting, Eugene, OR, August.
  • 1961

    Carter, R.F. (1961). Voters and Their Schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 42 (6, March) 237-243.
  • 1966

    Carter, R.F. (1961). Voters and Their Schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 42 (6, March) 237-243.
  • 1967

    Carter, R. F., Chaffee, S. H., and Ruggels, W.L. (1967). Finding your audience: the medium is not the masseuse. Presented at the Association for Education in Journalism annual meeting, Boulder, CO, August.
  • 1968

    Carter, R. F. (1968). Cognitive dissonance and communication behavior. Unfunded proposal to National Science Foundation.
  • 1971

    Carter, R. F. and Ruggels, W. L. (1971). Research on stopping: a new approach to research on communication effects. Unfunded proposal to Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  • 1972

    Carter, R. F. (1972). Defining communication. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.
  • 1973

    Carter, R. F. (1973). Discontinuity: behavioral systems and applied communication. Unpublished memorandum, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.

    Carter, R. F. (1973). Public policy communicators. Unfunded proposal to University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences Innovative fund.
  • 1974

    Carter, R. F. (1974). Before freedom and dignity: developing our capability to communicate. Unfunded proposal to University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences Innovative fund.
  • 1977

    Carter, R. F. (1977). The role of ideas in collective problem solving. Working paper, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle
  • 1970s-Early 1980s

    For a number of years in this period, I conducted yearly surveys of students in the beginning communication course, using the Eureka Holding and Assurance Co. (EHAC) as a means to gather information on communication accidents. (EHAC styled itself as a no-fault insurance company. Its premium was data on one’s communication accidents; its payoff was information on their consequences and how to avoid them.) Along with these surveys I wrote several (unpublished) manuscripts with the help of other interested parties: Aging and communication accidents (with M. S. Carter); Communication mishaps (with R. F. Olson and D. Tronsgaard). The accident emphasis reflects my concern for effectiveness. Another foray into new methods came in this period. I developed a paper-and-pencil version of a psychlotron. Subjects had to imagine themselves in a collective enterprise, connected only by computer. Buttons on the furnished console represented behavioral options (exposure, focal attention, cognition, questioning, memory, and a variety of moves) available to them. Their choices indicated operative behavioral conditions and the sequence in which they were exercised. The idea, of course, was to get to doing it all on the computer – not by paper-and-pencil and imagination. The method is only as good as the elemental analysis of behavioral structure. Variables like viewing and reading are much too gross.
  • 1984

    Carter, R. F. (1984). Cognitive modes and media use in the 1984 campaign. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.
  • 1988

    May, 1988: Research consultant to UNFPA/UNESCO to review project JOR/86/P11 (310.602.8)”Training in population development communication” conducted by the Dept. of Communication, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan (Issam S. Mousa, director)
  • 1988

    In January, as part of a program of research under the auspices of Communications Research Center (see above), I laid out some problems that could attacked by answering questions using Cognigraphics as a research technique. (For example, how do students understand key concepts in their courses.) Like the signaled stopping technique before it (in the 70′s), Cognigraphics was an attempt to ascertain what was happening, cognitively, in communicative behavior. It is a further development of “Research with PIX” (See 1976 above.) My theoretical work in communication had led me to suspect serious shortcomings in behavioral theory, which seemed in turn to derive from a bias in science toward investigating the order of things at the expense of the (more comprehensive) nature of things. (See my concluding essay in this volume. Communication is a [very] hard science.) What had started in the 60′s as an interest in behavioral processes, and had been expanded in the 70′s and 80′s (as discontinuity theory) had begun to take shape as a project in the behavioral foundations of communication — the comprehensive theoretical and methodological work I am currently trying to complete. John McNulty, over lunch with Steve Chaffee and me one day in the mid 60′s, asked whether communication is an art or a science. Mostly, but not entirely, for laughs, I said, “No.” By now it seems evident to me that it has to be both, and that if we understand the structure of behavior, we shall see what little difference there actually is: It is pretty much the distinction between composing before the fact and composition after the fact. The “How?’ of effective communication is what they are both about.
  • 1991

    Carter, R. F., Hirstio-Snellman, P., and Kim, Haksoo. (1991). Volunteer citizens: a communicative contribution toward solving the population-environment problem. Unfunded proposal to MacArthur Foundation.

    Carter, R. F. (1991). Words’ work: the subject of a preposition. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.

    Carter, R. F. (1991). From concept to theory: resolving an Aristotelian dilemma. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.

    Carter, R. F. (1991). The Goodwill Games: cognitive impact of a media event. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communication, Seattle.
  • 1992

    …”outstanding contributions to the study of mass communications.”
  • 1994

    Stamm, K. R. and Carter, R. F. (1994). Are presidential debates worth holding?: contributions of the 1992 debates. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communications, Seattle.
  • 1997

    Carter, R. F. (1997). Community development and social responsibility. Unpublished manuscript, University of Washington School of Communications, Seattle.
  • 2001

    Carter, R. F. (2001). Social application of the arts as an academic discipline. Manuscript submitted (by request) for publication in the first issue of a new journal.
  • 2001-Present

    At this point, as I continue to work out the theory and methodology appropriate to problems of communication effectiveness I see communication and cognition as arts and sciences of the possible. The fact of possibility accounts for their affinity, and for their being both art (before the fact) and science (after the fact). Art can recreate itself as invention to become applicable to social problems. Science must extend its research to cover the structure of process, to understand composition, before as well as after the fact. Otherwise communication becomes merely an evolutionary phenomenon, its consequentiality tragically stunted. Wilbur Schramm’s metaphor of communication as a crossroads was and is appropriate to its status as a field. Communication is ubiquitous enough to thrive as a field, disparate though its problems and scholars be. But communication can and should be a discipline, true to all its phenomena and inventive of methods needed to bring out all the behavioral principles from which both the art and science of communication can draw productively.