Current Project

Google Earth, online inspiration, and not detaching on vacation

Sometimes it doesn’t all have to be about learning per se. Sometimes, one just wants to be inspired. Isn’t inspiration learning, though? Isn’t it sensemaking in the sense that one is aligning perception to include beauty? Isn’t inspiration the ultimate innovative influence? So this post is all about extending inspiration a bit. To begin with, let’s start with the music. I am listening to this track from the Melansian Choirs from the Thin Red Line.

Thin Red Line-God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi

Is it obvious that I just began a long vacation? I needed a break, but that doesn’t equate to a detachment from everything. I do not intend to turn it all off, unplug, roam in the forest, and come to terms with my own mortality. I do intend, however, to have extended conversations with my own passions, to realign what I need to be doing with what I am doing, to reacclimate myself to what makes me tick.

To reinvest in my own passions.

Paris. I am heading there in a few weeks for my first overseas trip in years. This is what I live for, where my passions most extend.

And writing has always been one of those. Even these posts represent sensemaking in that I am trying (often unsuccessfully) to take the minutiae of my life and slot it into my schema, elegantly. But at the beginning of this vacation, I sit here with my laptop and a mojito, my wife sitting on the veranda staring at the sunset (the most calming, contented image I have ever witnessed in this life), a late summer breeze wisping through the apartment, and the tools of my imagination at my disposal.

  • Google Earth
  • Google Maps
  • iTunes
  • Wikipedia
  • Flickr
  • Some travel site for airfares (Kayak is the current one of record)

Many tabs open and I look and search and explore and find. I am inspired on so many levels at the sheer possibility that this life allows. I look at some far off place and then search for a flight and then look at my wife staring at the sunset and know that my travel companion, with a long enough timeline and sufficient prodding, will be there with me. I am inspired, invigorated, refreshed. Not by detaching from something, just by engaging it more organically, more in line with my natural passions. That’s what vacation is about to me.

So here is a record of me doing what it is I do on vacation. I plot and learn and imagine and drown in possibility. Become engulfed by it. And I look to the left and see my wife and swoon and then return to my writing, to make sense of it all. This is happiness to me. This is a vacation. By the way, I am heading off to Paris for a conference soon, so my Google Earth journey started there and then (I am guessing due to my schematic understanding of the world) only ventures into former French colonies. Not sure why there, but they all inspire and all represent places I want to go in the future. But for now, I plot and write, search in another tab, find a hotel, dream. And look over at my wife.

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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