I have always been interested in the intersection between people and technology and this has manifested itself in various ways in my research.
Initially I was interested in the design of data structures (specifically relational dabases) that would support the known and possible uses that people might have. In order to do that it was important not only to create flexible, robust data designs but also to extract meaningful information from the users of the future databases about what their data meant, what the rules around the data were and how the data might change or be used in the future. I was interested in attempting to gather that information using natural language but represent it in a formal way that could be used to translate the information into technical designs that would work! This was the subject of my PhD and it lead me into some interesting areas around creating ways in which non-technical people could express their knowledge in ways which technical people could use without needing to either make assumptions or impose their own interpretations on the final design.
Following on from that I went back to an earlier interest in virtual reality and how technology could shape human perception. I was introduced to virtual world technology in 2006 and much of the next few years was spent considering and exploring various aspects of virtual worlds, in particular what they could mean for education. Much of this work was centered around the SLENZ project – an 18 month project funded by the New Zealand government. At the end of the project we created a not-for-profit called VLENZ (Virtual Life Education NZ) which although somewhat sleepy is still in existence today.
My involvement with SLENZ has brought me into the space of considering the changing education paradigm and how technology is impacting on that. That is my current active area of research activity.