May 13, 2016



I analyse the structure of stories to understand what makes them compelling. I hold an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of Melbourne (2013) and currently work at independent research lab Sirius-Beta Corp, applying those models to systems design. My research and CV provide more details

I’m involved in two funded projects that apply narrative-based mechanisms of contextual integration to problems in which art, science, engineering and medicine overlap. Both supported by seed grants from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, and will run from June 2016-2018. I’m documenting their progress in my blog and on twitter, especially the one on which I’m the principal investigator, Design in Information Flow.

I also write stories and articles, and am secretly working on a science fiction novel.

I participate in communities concerned with: computational models of narrative, interpretation in context, intelligent narrative technologies, visualization and modeling, situation theory, quantum interaction, and symmetry and form. I’m on the Advisory Board of the Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry. This group is affiliated with the Society for Science on Form, in Japan, which explores one of the richest approaches to form and structure I know, katachi.

My understanding of stories is informed by my work in Media Analysis, the theatre arts, and a formative interest in drawing.


How does a narrative analyst work on medical systems?

Contextual integration and knowledge modeling can be used to map complex systems (in both computer science and biology). Both narrative and bioinformatics are multi-level systems; that is, they integrate diverse processes and information types, to produce higher-level behaviors. Even though these domains are different, some of the principles of modeling information transfer among multiple contexts are the same.

In the NAKFI research, my work differs from current educational approaches in the medical humanities in that I take artistic abstractions (like analogy) and adapt scientific frameworks towards them, to extend their capabilities. Examples can be found in two co-authored papers in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

Creative writing can be an investigative research tool, and I also explore how the semantic structures of logic and poetics might be connected. This is a way to extend computational logic and reasoning using the lens of creative writing.

In the future, I’ll use the results of these projects to contribute to discussions about how cognitive modeling depends on both biological embodiment and higher-level comprehension (such narrative understanding). Surrounding work can be found in Patrick Winston‘s recent musings at the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines, MIT, Keith Devlin’s writing on Modeling Real Reasoning, Fox Harrell‘s work on using virtual identities to affect social change, and the Cognitive Linguistics corpus at Berkeley, such as George Lakoff‘s work on analogy and embodied cognition.