Virtuality And Physicality In A Computer-Mediated Environment – my PhD thesis on Medium

I’ve uploaded my 2005 PhD Thesis as a Medium list. Find it here.

I first became enchanted by computers in 1985. I had gone to university as a mature student to major in English and History, but it was the optional short course ‘Computers for Management’ that changed my life. It was there that I learned to code in Basic, played adventure games from cassette tapes connected to my Amstrad 6128, and began to grasp the enormity of what programming could do. Everything I have written, studied and thought about since then goes back to those heady days in a tiny computer lab run by the Geography Department at a time when nobody else in the Humanities Faculty had a clue about what was to come.

In 2005, almost twenty years and several books later, I submitted my PhD thesis, ‘A Journey of Integration’, tracking two decades of discoveries, imaginings and mistakes.

But this is the first time, so many years after completion, that my thesis has been made available. Why not before?

Two reasons, really. First, the thesis formed part of a PhD by Publication gained through previously-published work: it was submitted alongside copies of three books, four chapters, three websites and a supporting bibliography. For that reason it’s not as traditionally academic as most conventional theses and this made me reluctant to submit it to any scholarly journals. Ironically, however, other readers might consider it too academic for general readership. So, stuck in my usual uncategorizable backwater, I didn’t send it to any editors at all. Second, I wasn’t happy with the final chapter and always intended to revise it, but never got around to it.

But then, Medium.

I published the Introduction and first three chapters in 2020, and then was distracted by other projects and a certain global pandemic. Now, in 2022, I’m back to finish the task.
As I write, four chapters are already live and I’m working on uploading the last three.

I hope you enjoy reading the thesis and its accompanying books. I welcome your comments and thoughts about your own experiences of the last thirty years in technology.

Photo by Marcis Berzins on Unsplash from Chapter 3 ‘Overwhelming Physicality 1992-1995’

Video: ‘Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace’ at Common Ground

NB: Viewers may notice that Nature did not spare me in this video! I filmed the Zoom call in a corner of my south-facing living room. As the session progressed, and despite my attempts to block it out beforehand, the sun first lit me too brightly then dumped me in darkness before moving round to focus on random parts of me and my plants. Out of my control at the time and very embarrassing!

On February 12th 2021 I was the guest of Common Ground Research Networks in a discussion about my 2013 book ‘Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace’. The event was part of The Common Ground Research Media Lab Speaker Series, Imagining Futures and my talk was titled Technobiophilia: Nature in the Digital. The Lab is based at the University of Illinois.

This series offers members of Common Ground a place of learning and interaction through online conversations led by some of the world’s leading researchers, practitioners, artists and civic leaders. The aim is to create linkages that cross disciplinary, geographic, and cultural boundaries. I love this. Transdisciplinarity is what it’s all about!

I really enjoyed the Q&A discussion, which starts at around the 35 minute point. We talked about the most useful ways to think about technobiophilia, how to use it in practical workshops, the role of academics in addressing the crises facing the natural world, and the many applications of technobiophilic design. I’d like to thank Phillip Kalantzis Cope, the Chief Social Scientist at Common Ground, for his thoughtful introduction and chairing of the session.