Imagine a caterpillar spinning a cocoon around it, a process that is instrumental in bringing about fundamental change, though the caterpillar may not know what to expect. However, there will come a time when the cocoon is finished and the caterpillar will have evolved so much that we see it fly away, leaving the cocoon far behind.
The caterpillar is the human race and the cocoon is what we call today "the Internet".
- Paul Trafford
Status (January '04):
I'm a Project Officer in the Learning Technologies Group at Oxford University Computing Services. During the past year or so I've supported the uptake of Virtual Learning Environments across the University. My main responsibility has been to facilitate the rollout of a centrally hosted system called WebLearn, which I administer and for which I do some development, training etc. WebLearn is an implementation of Bodington, an open source product developed by Leeds University.
I joined OUCS in June 2000, part of a fairly small team (now called the Academic Computing Development Team) that works closely with academics in developing IT resources to support admin, teaching and research. One of the first tasks I was given was to review the kinds of VLE systems available; subsequently, I customised OxArch an existing PHP/MySQL based system at Oxford to produce the Teaching Resources Web site which made a valuable contribution to the Theology Faculty's QAA submission (the Government agency responsible for assessing the quality of teaching of university departments).
In some of my other project work I developed a production system in Perl that generates a customisable multimedia Chinese language CD-ROM - you can choose how many lessons, what exercises etc. Running the CD requires no server! The Chinese Institute have used this to produce a version that you can buy from Blackwells online bookshop (just search for 'Chinese Multimedia').
Other computing topics of interest include mobile learning and handheld computing. I use a HP Jornada 720 both at home and work - you can read about some experiences I had running X Windows applications and also see how it coped with WebLearn (you can log in as a visitor).
Previously, I worked as an Internet Resource Developer (System Adminstrator/Web Developer) for the MultiFaithNet project at the University of Derby. That's where I first learnt to set up a server to run Linux and Apache, and started tailoring various Perl tools, such as a links directory. After I left, the server carried on faithfully, managing to clock continuous uptime of about 8 months, and a two and a half years later it is still chugging along! I also had some space to work on the front end and could produce the occasional nice visual designs - the Mongolia exhibition that I composed at MultiFaithNet was well received by Barbara Hind, the photographer. This site, Chez Paul, is visually rather basic, but at least navigation should be quite quick.
I have spent a long time studying for formal academic qualifications. Some while ago I was trying to promote collaboration in Formal Methods research and developed the FM on-line proposal, but as my work is different now I am no longer pursuing this. If anyone would like to take it up, then please feel free (just send me an email to let me know). Similarly, I never got round to producing publications from my Ph.D. thesis. Again, I'd be happy for someone to publish this jointly, or even in their own name, though some acknowledgement would be appreciated! In these I took to heart the systems thinking approach, which probably explains why it took me 8 months longer than the nominal 3 years for completion ;-)
Looking long term, I do not see myself as remaining an entirely technical developer and my secondment seems to reflect this. Browsing this site will also indicate this - for instance, my interest in Open Source extends beyond the realm of software into interfaith dialogue: in Spring 2000 I gave the following paper at a very unusual conference on the theme of Wisdom: Open Sources - A Higher Consciousness in Software Development. In fact I have many ideas and I like to integrate them, which is a natural thing for me to do, being mixed race.
Some time I will get round to updating my formal CV...
- Paul Trafford
Last modified: 25 January 2004