October 24-26, 2007
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Speakers: Biography

Speaker: Samuel Mann


Samuel Mann

Associate Professor
Otago Polytechnic
Information Technology
Private Bag 1910
Harbour Terrace
Dunedin Otago
9001 New Zealand

Dr Samuel Mann’s career displays a diverse and rich range of skills and interests, a fact recognized in his appointment as Otago Polytechnic’s Associate Professor. After studying Geography and Botany at the University of Otago, he went to work for the Otago Regional Council in the early 1990s. There he developed local farmers’ understanding of sustainable land use. His first academic paper argued running sheep (and rabbits!) on land near Tarras in Central Otago was not sustainable. The fact his parents now grow olives on that same land perhaps proves the point he made. But at the time too few farmers listened, so Mann returned to complete an MSc and then PhD at Otago (with a little work in Manitoba modeling climate change meanwhile). He developed Environmental Informatics models predicting the environmental consequences of farming practices that engaged farmers to build a shared understanding of how the land behaved under their stewardship. Once more employed by the regional council, Dr Mann then instituted computer-based systems helping farmers easily produce the environmental plans that allowed them to meet regulatory and industry standards for land use.

In 1999 Mann began teaching at Otago Polytechnic, and has since received numerous awards for applied research and teaching excellence. His teaching of software engineering asks his students to complete “real projects for real clients”, and they have successfully produced a wide range of software for many local enterprises and organizations. His research now focuses on ‘Augmented Experiences’. He nd his students work on systems that harnesses the power of computing technology to help engage people with information, while doing away with the ubiquitous computing interfaces like screens and keyboards. If he has to use more than one such “limiting” device Mann says “I’ve failed”. So, asked to provide a way for Ngai Tahu communities to tell their history, he developed Sim-Pa, a game in which the players participate in the unfolding of the stories.

Samuel will present Worlds colliding: Participatory storytelling and indigenous culture in building interactive games. [Paper]