What's Interesting

We have a new organization and a new manager, and one of the questions we as staff are being asked is "what's interesting?" with responses to be at least one sentence and less than one page. This is my submission.


When asked, I tell people that I work at the intersection of four disciplines: media, education, IT, and philosophy. These four – and in particular the convergence of these four - are also a fair representation of what I find interesting as well.

Media – by ‘media’ I mean journalism (as opposed to, for example, multimedia, though I am an avid photographer, a podcaster, have built online games, and enjoy virtual experiences). I have run my own newsletter for the last 20 years, have been blogging even longer, created a community newspaper co-op when I lived in Moncton, and have been in the field since my days as a student journalist in the 1980s. Today this translates into an interest in social networks, copyright issues, truth (and ethics) in media, and the practical matter of helping communities communicate with each other and externally.

Education – I am recognized as a leading authority in online and distance learning; I built a learning management system in the 1990s for Assiniboine Community College, built and conducted the world’s first massive open online course (MOOC), and have contributed to the fields of open education, learning network, and learning theory throughout my career. Today my focus is on ‘personal learning’ (not to be confused with AI-assisted ‘personalized learning’) and specifically on ways to help learners manager information, engage in community learning activities, and manage their own personal learning records.

IT – I write my own software, including everything for my website. Most recently this includes my newsletter software, an always-under-construction personal learning environment (PLE) called gRSShopper, and a small toy blockchain module for Perl. I think software should be distributed and open source, especially when produced by a government agency, as we can do much more good (and generate much more national wealth) this way. I want to continue to develop the PLE or to continue to contribute to international efforts to promote learning technology standards and open educational resources.

Philosophy – my degrees are in philosophy and I specialize in epistemology and the philosophies of science and of mind. I was a connectionist back in the 1990s (nice to see the world catch up to the idea of neural-net based AI) and have based my work in media, education and IT on these core philosophies and the concept of distributed self-organizing networks. I am interested in writing more about the idea of the core critical literacies required to work in a complex and changing work and learning environment.

I would prefer in general that my work in the public service focus less on those who are already successful (such as large corporations and commercial interests) and more on technologies and issues that benefit those in need (including especially international development, access to education, and community self-organization). I prefer to work openly (not in secret) and for the public good.

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