How It All Started
I never know exactly where to start these things. I suppose I can start at the beginning. I was born in a small town in rural Northeast Ohio. I was a good student and active in various clubs and societies, and in high school, I discovered a passion for music. But I’d always been a geek at heart. Video games were a favourite past time, and computers were always a fun hobby and distraction. I remember building my first programme in BASIC when I was about 7 years old on a Commodore 64. But I never expected to make any kind of career in technology. It was just a hobby. Boy was I in for a surprise!
Fast forward to my 20th birthday. I had just moved to Nashville, TN to pursue a music career, and while I struggled to make it big, I took a job as a claims auditor for a small start up. I soon started tinkering around with VBA and Microsoft Access in order to make my job easier, and before I knew it, I had been moved into the IT department and was learning all about object oriented programming and database normalisation. And thus my IT career took off (unlike my music career which took a quiet and permanent dirt nap).
And So the Education Begins
Eventually I decided a degree would be a good idea, and I ended up completing a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2004. Shortly after, I left Nashville and began wandering around the States (first to San Diego, CA and then to Boston, MA). During this time I honed my techie skills and became a Senior Developer and eventually a Development Manager. After residing in Boston for a few years, I felt it was a good time to return to school and pursue a Masters. I graduated from Northeastern University with a Masters in Digital Media & Interactive Design in 2012.
While pursuing my Masters, I started thinking about a PhD. I love school, and the thought of being able to do focused research on a particular area for 3 or 4 years sounded like a dream come true (I mentioned I’m a geek, right?). But I knew I didn’t want to do anything in Computer Science. I like the techie stuff, but I’ve never been one to just focus on one thing; I like to blend things together. So I started thinking about Anthropology, more specifically how different cultures engage technology, specifically from an interactivity stance. So I started applying with this idea in mind.
After getting shot down by my first choice and getting accepted by my second choice but with no funding (and at this point, I have school debt up to my eyeballs and can’t really afford to add to it), I decided to keep looking. That’s when I stumbled across the Digital Humanities programme at Maynooth University. After a read through of the programme, I was hooked. I knew this was the area I wanted. I’ve always loved history, and the chance to marry my techie knowledge with a side hobby that’s always interested me was just too good to pass up. So I applied. And here I am—a PhD candidate in Digital Humanities at Maynooth University. And while my studies have drifted away a bit from my original idea regarding anthropology and interaction design, I’m still focused on how to design things for a wide array of audiences—and how that audience can change the way we interact with software.
So What's With the Site?
If you made it this far, I’m impressed. Who reads these things? Apparently you do, so thanks! Your lollipop will arrive by post. Anyways, you may be wondering why I created this site. Well, the short answer is – I had to. Quite a number of my classes require blog posts as part of our assignments. But I decided I might as well flesh it out a bit and share my PhD experience with you while I’m at it. So without further ado, read on. There will be posts discussing various topics addressed in class. Eventually I’ll start blogging about my dissertation, and you can laugh and cry with me (probably mostly cry since I imagine that’s exactly what I’ll be doing in another year or so). And I may even throw in some fun resources to keep you up to speed on whats happening with Digital Humanities.
So buckle up! It’s sure to be a bumpy ride!