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Russell Square, London and a big airplane: perspective shift

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Being as intrigued as I am by the magical powers of (shifting) perspective in reorganizing thought, I bring you today something that actually startled me as I was using Google Maps’ Satellite View to look for a particular address. I was roaming around the University of London (in Google Maps) looking for a particular address (right outside the Institute of Education) and noticed this rather large airplane making a descent into Gatwick Airport (that is just a guess). The sheer size of it, almost encompassing all of Russell Square, froze me for a moment as it looked entirely serene and motionless. Barely a blur can be detected in the image (despite it moving at hundreds of miles per hour) and all seems peaceful. It still unnerved me. 

My surprise came from a sense of historical knowledge, of having been there and studied this map before and knowing full well there isn’t a plane nestled in the midst of a beautiful urban park in London. My expectation of what I was to see based on my knowledge construct was shifted based merely on an unlikely intersection of time and space, that plane hovering over Russell Square just as the image was snapped. I was forced to see anew, re-examine what I knew about this place merely because something seemed out of place. It was a troublesome inclusion of new information that thwarted a comfortable knowledge construct. 

Go ahead, see for yourself.

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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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