About

How have I got here?

The point about this page is that unlike a normal C.V., it contains both hard and soft data. I could just list some qualifications - but what's the point, really? So it is a bit chatty and maybe tells you more than you need to know, or perhaps, still less.

I have done some quite odd things in the past, mostly out of a conviction that I couldn't do normal stuff, as I was a wayward and intransigent child, and seem still to be a little like that: I've built microlights, been a kennel maid, dispatch rider, learned to do (some) basic aerobatics. I have been a pub sign-writer (and simultaneously, admirer of traction engines), and an accidental printer. I was also notable at one time among my friends for having a large collection of used motorcycle parts kept in my mother's conservatory. Someone even wrote an article in a motorbike magazine about visiting my house to find parts for their bike, which then had the effect of making people think that I was running a motorcycle scrap yard, much to my poor mother's surprise. I currently have a Honda VFR750, but alas, I am more of a chicken now than I used to be, and it doesn't come out very often. (It doesn't mix with children very well). (Later note: Whoops, not a VFR any more, now it's a Royal Enfield; I have shared custody with my ex, which creates a delicate balancing of trust) (Later later note: Royal Enfield kidnapped and sold into slavery; am waiting to be gainfully employed before buying my next bike, possibly even another Enfield).

Some, but not all of these attributes/events/things have been concurrent with my doing an Art Foundation course, gaining a degree (BSc Hons 2:1) in Philosophy and Linguistics, an MSc in Computer Science, OU DSE 212 Understanding Psychology, and a PGCE in ICT. I have worked for Hertfordshire County Council Emergency Planning Team building databases, The National Gallery London, doing desktop support, and then I went on to rebuilding farms in Spain, where I also did olive and almond farming and goat-herding in desert temperatures. Only as a trainee though; I also learned some fantastic lumberjacking skills (at one point I could use a chainsaw to make the correct cuts in a tree that makes the tree fall in precisely the direction you want.) (Quite an important skill if you live in a rather tiny fragile house on the edge of the forest - how do you put this on a C.V.?)

Husband #1 decided he had had enough of the good life, disappeared, and then wrote about the experience. So I also exist in fiction - helpfully he portrayed the fictional me as a boring geek, which gave me some sort of identity to aim towards. I feel that I may now be doing him the favour of helping his art to finally imitate life.

I returned to the UK, staying first in Scotland, then London and points between. I ended up working for Centrica PLC, first, as an administrator in their Secretariat, then helping with the production and writing of their Annual Report and Accounts, and also the knowledge management behind the AGM and handling information for the Chairman and Board. Although I felt that perhaps I was not the corporate type, it was fascinating work; trying to understand the hidden networks that dominate our lives: from gas pipes, electricity and the Interconnector, to the National Grid, stock market, telephones and banking systems. This was an astonishing and transformative contrast to the idyllic life I had lived in Spain with no electricity, piped sewage, rubbish collection or running water and made me walk around the U.K. with pictures of complex networks ever present in my head.

My first thoughts on returning were to do with how fantastic it was to live with these hidden systems, but then it became clear that they were vastly complex. It also became clear that because so many of the systems are hidden, it's not always exactly possible to work out who is accountable for running them, what to do when things go wrong, or how much people should be paid for sorting them out. My second thoughts were to do with how complicated it was to describe them via the mechanism of a Report and Accounts and although I tried hard to help the various businesses tie in their 'soft' descriptive reporting to the figures marching at the back of the report, I became convinced that the word 'data' should not be used lightly, and darkly fascinated by the way in which accountability can drive perverse behaviours in the production of data.

My first child came into the world, and I decided that 4.00am feeds were not compatible with 4.00am Stock Market announcements, so got temporary work as an editor for an Arabic travel publishing company. I started a degree in psychology with the OU. I would like to finish it one day. I moved to the South Coast (U.K.) as a result of my husband's company's relocation. I found work as a blogger and SEO analyst and trainer for Bruce Clay Europe. This, again, was an amazing job and taught me much. An opportunity to train as an ICT teacher arose; I took it, fondly imagining that teaching would be full of - well - people who wanted to a) teach and b) help children, and then was so surprised and dismayed by what I came across in terms of data management and the entire teaching-learning and target ethos that I thought I had better go back to college.

I started the 4-year course at Southampton University in Web Science in October 2011. I love it, as it's having the effect of making all the so-far separate streams of my life come together. I got my second MSc in 2012 and am now doing my PhD, in and around the area of crime, cybercrime, crime data, intelligence and enforcement.

The older I get, the more interested I am in working out where hard facts lie and what makes them factual. (Ontologising; a mixture of eulogising and apologising - constantly apologising for my need to unpick things in an effort to make them beautiful and work better...) I am also interested in story-telling and narratives. I am a little obsessed with search, both on a pragmatic 'how-on-earth-does-Google-work?' level and in a more philosophic and psychological way - we are nearly all searching for something, but sometimes we don't know exactly what it is. I love the idea from John Battelle of users' click-streams creating virtual entities representing people's interests and desires. However I am not a social constructionist (although I love reading Ken Gergen), nor a rabid Wittgensteinian (although I think he informs a lot of the underpinnings of current thinking on all sorts of issues). I prefer to think of click-streams as being vortices spiralling out from the passage of our existence (a sort of existential data-exhaust). I don't think that people are entirely constructed out of social snippets and everything that defines us is not external or easily mapped.

Although I am not entirely against surveillance - being one of the (apparently) few people who is aware of the hidden victims that surveillance can help - I am also interested in how big data, traumatic algorithms, pre-crime conceptualisation and surveillance can construct identities that are maybe not our authentic selves. I'm becoming more interested in ideas about how our notions of identity lead us to talk about public and private spheres, transparency, privacy and accountability. A complex area, with lots of rabbit holes to fall down. (I'm always getting told off about the rabbit holes.)

I'm also interested in aesthetics, ethics, music, psychology, painting, creating gardens, cyber warfare, survival, neural networks, AI, motorcycles, flying, and in people-watching. I have had a few painting and illustration commissions, and have also written quite a lot of a book that seems to have accompanied my growth and was always maybe just indicative of my hidden yearnings to be the geek (only with super-powers!) that my first husband saw me as. I love teasing Google with this site as it's not in the least keyword focussed, and looking to see what changes in the contextual advertising the changes to the site triggers. (Note: have decided to drop the contextual advertising - I wrote a short blog about a robot called 'Fur-hat' at the Science Museum, on my other site and since then the contextuals have ganged up on me and they continually confront me with rows and rows of quite frankly threatening-looking fur-hats, staring blankly in a rather Wellesian way at me.)

I am slightly paranoid, really frightened of looking, or of being, stupid, and of failure, and vowed that I would never do another course again. I don't write that well, but am learning. I can excuse myself for that a little as I'm generally covered in a sticky layer of screaming children and cats casting venomous glances at me. I also really, really love robots.

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