When working for a collaborative research project in the UK, one of my responsibilities was to train early-stage social science researchers in communications activities, both traditional and new media. As well as providing written training materials, I also put on a series of seminars, plenary lectures and workshops at the Universities of Cambridge, Reading, Sheffield and Loughborough.
For five years, I taught an elective module in media ethics for medical students at the University of York. The course ran every term and was frequently over-subscribed. It was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever done.
To everything there is a season
I have an excuse for this rather off-kilter piece: it was written to challenge the excellent ladies choir Libricini, and to take advantage of the unique architectural properties of the Octagon chapel in Norwich where they premiered it in 2013.
I have a diploma in choral conducting from the Association of British Choral Directors, accredited by the ABRSM.
Limericks are dreadful
I wrote an extended essay on limericks so you don’t have to. Here’s the first part of it.
Shape from shading
I’ve done various freelance science writing jobs over the years. This is an example of a magazine commission I wrote in 2013 — an article about scientists’ attempts to teach computers to understand 3D shapes.
Ballade of Christmas ghosts
This is an overly sentimental song based on an overly sentimental poem. It was first performed in this form in York in December 2012, though the music started life ten years earlier as a song for guitar and voice.
Living in the Matrix?
My MA dissertation looked at Nick Bostrom’s intriguing simulation argument and the theory that we might all be living in a version of the Matrix.
I think there’s more to be said about this argument which hasn’t yet made it into the literature (as far as I know), but I can see why it may not be a top priority!
Where can wisdom be found?
I wrote this short setting for a private funeral. It was originally for three voices (STB), but I prefer this four-part adaptation.
Left to our own devices
In 2011, I co-led a knowledge exchange project called ‘Left to our own devices’. The aim was to challenge stereotypes, particularly among policy-makers, about the relationship between older people and technology.
Advanced murder mysteries
I wrote about the design process behind murder mystery party games back in 2010, for a long-defunct magazine.
I’ve written my fair share of corporate documents as a freelancer.
KT-Equal was a research consortium developing technologies to improve the lives of older and disabled people. Among the partners were the universities of Sheffield, Edinburgh and Cambridge. I was their Communications Manager, with responsibility for communications strategy and projects, media campaigns and brand management, especially web and social media.
The words of the Irish Blessing have had strong emotional value for me ever since I sang a simple setting as a teenager in the Halifax Young Singers. I wrote this even simpler setting of my own for a York-based community choir, Soon Amore, sometime in the late 2000s.
York Youth Chorus
I ran York’s city-wide youth choir between 2004 and 2008, funded by the Lottery, the Local Network Fund, the University of York, and local businesses.
This was a commission for a wedding.
In 2007, I directed a commercially-organised singing holiday for upper voices in Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence. The week combined choral singing with eating, drinking and soaking up the sun in a beautiful part of southern France. It was a huge success, and indirectly gave birth to an upper-voices workshop choir which I directed for many years afterwards.
UK national museum
I ran the press office at the UK’s National Railway Museum, managing a team of staff in a busy media-facing environment. This was a year-long contract starting in 2006. We achieved extended coverage on UK national TV, front-page news in national newspapers, and a documentary for UKTV History.
Web design and development
I’ve been making websites since before it was cool. All the way back in 2005, I built and managed a large, comprehensive website for a leading politician, including extensive campaign and policy materials, a widely-read blog, audiovisual resources, and an archive of political activities. The site was nominated for a New Statesman New Media award in 2005, and the blog was listed as one of Europe’s top ten political blogs by the Wall Street Journal in 2006.
Since then, I have kept my hand in with web design and development, but it’s no longer a main focus.
An atheist defends the design argument
Way back as an undergraduate, I wrote a short essay about why the design argument wasn’t as shaky as some people seem to think. It was published in 2003 on The Secular Web. People still find it occasionally, and it comes around to haunt me again every few years.