Stuff I've Done
HONOURS Thesis - 'After the end of history'
I did this a bit backwards, having already completed a Masters degree before going back to do Honours. In this 20,000-word minor thesis I investigate the main causes of the present crisis of authority and legitimacy that plagues our contemporary democratic societies and pin responsibility on a set of ideas that dominate thinking in these societies and which are no longer up to the task of making sense of the world we actually live in. I outline a richer and more supple alternative perspective and suggest some ways in which ideas in this direction could be further developed.
The thesis was awarded a High Distinction. You can read it here if you are interested.
CANNY OUTLAW MAGAZINE
Canny Outlaw was a digital magazine I started in response to a gauntlet thrown down by the late historian Tony Judt in his final book, addressed to young people of the world:
Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today … We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.
In a time when many of our venerable publications no longer fulfil their public role, and though we have been living through a period of great upheaval and possibility in journalism, I couldn’t find the voice I wanted to hear—a civic-minded publication for thoughtful people who are restless and dissatisfied with the way things are. So I decided to try starting one. (These days I just subscribe to The New York Review of Books and, more recently, The Monthly, now that it has a more focussed and courageous editor.)
I published three full quarterly editions and ran a companion website, where my band of contributors strove to deliver a melange of quality original and encore feature content from a wide range of voices, as well as daily clippings from around the web and the occasional editorial vent. The publication’s tone was tragic, but hopeful. Although it often started from the assumption that things are definitely not ok, and despite frequently expressing deep frustration with the world, it never succumbed to cynicism, for that would be to deny the hope that things might get better.
The website archive is still up if you want to take a look.
THE DIGITAL MIGRANT BOOK
Having been teaching people for many years how to use and understand computers, I had begun to identify several conceptual and imaginative hurdles that people commonly struggled to get over. After my business failed the year before, I had a bruised ego and little to do, so I decided to put these observations into a guidebook to understanding computers for the curious and confused. In doing so, I rediscovered a love of writing, especially of a conversational style that helps people tackle difficult ideas in a safe and engaging environment, without sacrificing the power or the complexity of the subject matter.
People liked that a lot, as it turned out. It didn't sell well as I went the self-publishing route and marketing and distribution is not my strong point, but it was very well-received by those who did read it. You can still pick up a copy on Amazon if you want, or download the full PDF version here.
X-Spot / Sense Creative
After dropping out of school in Year 12 and failing to hold down a variety of jobs, I ended up starting my own digital media operation with a colleague. This morphed into two separate entities – a graphic design and branding agency, and an IT training and consultancy specialising in Apple platforms. Both were moderately successful and always in demand – at its peak, the enterprise had ten staff and an annual turnover of several hundred thousand dollars – but inexperience and internal strife eventually created a cashflow hole that burned up start-up capital and made the operation untenable. After throwing everything I had at this for several years, I was too burnt out by this stage to countenance keeping things going under a radical restructure, so we wound it up, we all lost a lot of money and I declared bankruptcy at 25 years of age.
Needless to say, I learned a lot from the experience. Talent, creativity, goodwill, belief and hard work are themselves no guarantee of success, though belief especially can get you a surprisingly long way. But experience, discipline and execution count for more, even if the overall quality is less. I resolved to rebuild my life around these qualities from this point – a long road along which I hoped eventually to combine experience, discipline and execution with talent, belief and creativity to fashion a truly fearsome combination. I'm further along that road now, and still hoping.