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Admitting the addiction

Alex Christie

22 May 2008

Hi, my name is Kim and I am a "learning addict".

I am working on an MSc in Human-Computer Interaction part-time while working full-time at Tamar and I often get asked how I manage it. The truth of the matter is that it varies a lot from week to week depending on the various deadlines I am juggling, but to be honest, it only gets really and truly scary for a few weeks at a time here and there. Now, you would think that I would relish the times that things are slower, but I have realised that I might take a wee break and then I am out there looking at what else I can do. It is like I can’t stop! Two "extra activities" that I have found myself involved in this year have been a weekly Mandarin class (I am going to Shanghai in a couple of weeks — separate blog on that) and the latest has been taking a class at Stanford.

Don’t be confused, I am in London, not Palo Alto, but one of the professors there has decided to broadcast his class via the internet so that ANYONE who wants to join can. I found out about it on Facebook (a separate addiction). The professor is BJ Fogg and I am a big fan of a book of his called "Persuasion Technology" — so when I found out he had a group on Facebook I quickly joined and he then announced that he was going to be running a class at Stanford on the Psychology of Facebook, looking at it in terms of persuasion which includes factors like influence and trust. I thought it was genius to offer this type of course in this way — what better way to get rich feedback on the affects of this technology than by opening it up to the world of people that have a true and pure interest in it?

As for my addiction, if would seem that it is likely to fester and grow. The internet has definitely been an enabler and the utilisation of multiple online technologies, including social and community based types, look to become more than a trend. I expect these open methods of communication and community to continue to expand and converge both because they are useful and because they support some basic deeper needs that we have as humans.

I have accepted the fate of my addiction — it is either that or I am going to have to sign myself up for a Virgin Galactic flight to get away from this earth, although I expect that this would just be another topic to immerse myself in and a new addiction would be born. Also, I don’t want to give Branson any ideas or they may soon be a Virgin University.

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