Design. Is there a design to a life well lived? Or is the design an afterthought, an explanation?

I live in rural North Carolina on a plot of land that includes woodland gardens, a well laid-out chicken coop, and a large garage, where my car projects reside, some having just barely escaped the junk pile.

My career has been what one career counselor called a “nightmare,” simply because its logic and direction are difficult to discern. But, if it is a nightmare for counselors, it has also been a great ride for me. My academic publications are wide-ranging, including essays on educational reform, gifted education, Italian and English literature of the Renaissance, and biomedical research, particularly in genomics. My online car restoration journal is among the most comprehensive guides on the web for the Series 1 Jaguar E-type and has been widely praised and used by enthusiasts and restorers.

Before I retired in January 2021, I directed research computing at Duke University, where I continue to teach, write things worth reading that are decidedly not about research computing. I lead a seminar on “our complex relationships with technology” in fall semesters at Duke. I do continue to feed the beast of research budgets on occasion.

I’m interested in the interplay of meaningful human life and the delights and tortures of technology, medieval history, cars of all sorts, and the urge that people have long had for artistic expression. Although people of Early Modern Europe didn’t drive fast or beautiful cars, I’m nonetheless interested in how they lived, what they thought, and what kinds of messes they navigated. I studied philosophy, history, and literature in US and European universities and took my Ph.D. from Duke University in English literature and Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

I live near Rougemont, a hamlet in the North Carolina piedmont, with my bride Arlene, Rosie the dog, Omar the cat, a dozen humorous chickens, and two loud Macaws named “Zuzu” and “Bert.”

About Me

I currently am working on three major writing projects. These projects explore ways that technology, broadly conceived, influences culture and society. As part of the focus on these influences, I am involved in a group devoted to studying and promoting “arts practices,” which concretely integrate technologies and human meaning. Broadly educated and formally trained in literature and history, I continue to teach a seminar at Duke University, from which I retired in 2021.

My Substack newsletter, Technocomplex, features essays and podcasts drawn from a wide perspective on society and culture. During fall semesters, the newsletter focuses more intently on how individuals and societies choose, limit, develop, and discard technologies. Get more information and a sampling of links to essays.