Monday, April 06, 2009

Another birthday tribute: Stephen Downes

Following hot on the heels of Harold Jarche, who lives in the same town, Stephen Downes scores his half century today.

Stephen writes short, sharp posts in his OLDaily blog, linking to all manner of interesting things across the web. I have often referred to him as an aggregator with skin on.

On his Half an Hour blog, he indulges his own interest in one subject with each post.

I have been reading Stephen's blogs since I first discovered the world of blogging, at the recommendation of Mark Berthelemy, and the word 'prolific' comes to mind. Even though I have been reading his material for a relatively long time, I still don't feel that I can say that I know Downes the man. I do gain occasional glimpses, and he never loses the capacity to surprise me. For example, did you know that he is a dab hand at woodwork? And, if you read his blogs, you can't fail to have noticed that he is a skilled photographer. He is also a sports fan with an appreciation of rugby union (earning him major kudos in my estimation!). He also once ran for political office.

Stephen has one of those minds that sees the interrelations between things in ways that are simply beyond me. This makes arguing with him a daunting prospect. Even on those occasions when I know with every fibre of my being that his stance on a certain point is wrong, I also know that I will simply not be able to put together a sufficiently cogent argument to explain why this is the case.

I have heard the recordings of many of his presentations, which never fail to hold my interest. On one occasion, I thought I might have the pleasure of finally meeting him face to face, when I learned that he was presenting at the Learning Technologies conference in 2008. I felt somewhat cheated to learn that he was delivering his presentation via a video link... especially since I had finally managed to win a game of Scrabulous against him, having had my butt handed to me on several previous occasions (we have stopped playing since the whole silliness with Hasbro has resulted not only in a name-change of the online version, but changes in the rules that have taken the magic out of the game for both of us).

I forget who it was who said we should try always to be the stupidest person at the table... that way you learn more. I am delighted that media such as blogging afford me the opportunity to be at the same virtual table as Stephen. I acknowledge unequivocally (and not for the first time) that he is wa-ay cleverer than I am, even though he oftens seems to reject the notion that one person is cleverer than another. Heck, Stephen is probably cleverer than most people, so I'm in excellent company!

He is currently in Australia, on a speaking tour, as far as I know. I'm not sure if this means celebrations will be postponed until he returns home, but I'm sure the occasion will not go unmarked Down Under. They may well be blowing the froth off a few tonight!


rlubensky said...

Yes, he was well taken care of in Melbourne!

The upsycho said...

You gots a headache, then, Ron? ;o)