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Hello, I'm Dan Shearer.

If you're a conference organiser or an editor, here's my more formal bio.

Here's my Pictorial CV (PDF) which saves a lot of writing: while I do have specific areas of expertise what I mostly do is apply my thinking methods to these and other areas. To me it is the thinking that matters most, get that right and the rest will follow given sufficient motivation, time and money!

One of three main things I do is work with companies and communities on Open Source (a kind of computer software) in Europe, Australia, France and the US from my base in Edinburgh, Scotland. The other two areas are law and medicine, where they overlap technology - which is most of the time! I am a Technologist covering a lot of technical areas, and these days [1] I help manage businesses, consult in my various areas, and pursue my research interests.

What do I do?

If you're not very interested in IT [2] I concern myself with these things:

  • the big social trends of the 21st century: tribalism, globalism, science and non-science.
  • cybernetics, which despite how it sounds was founded in the pre-computer era is about complex systems!
  • the reasons why, more or less, all computer software is rubbish. Often especially as applied to medicine, law and business.
  • opportunities and practical issues surrounding creative thought and epistemology.
  • how individuals can keep their private life private as technology, law, criminals and governments make it harder to do so.

Creative thought interests me, especially the patterns that seem to keep coming up in quality analysis, solutions and problem finding.

I started in IT - an if you have at least a passing interest in IT, the areas I cover are:

  • Free Software of all kinds, at scale. I've been doing it since 1988, full-time since 1997, free lance and for companies large and small worldwide. The best-known thing I've done is get Samba going but I've got fingers in lots of pies. Free software is wonderful for a technologist because there are so many chunks of software that can be plugged together to give new and different effects. I need to be a programmer in order to understand what I plug together, and to talk to the programmers who develop most of the software in the first place. But that is more or less incidental. Yes, it's free, but when done intelligently it is often better too. It's sustainable software, and excels at integrating disparate systems including those from Microsoft.
  • Virtualisation. While it's the hot thing just now - despite being widespread for over 30 years! - I feel the only technologies with long-lived potential are very different from the current noise, after the style of Qemu and its betters. I am also interested in (and use) current tools such as OpenVZ, Xen, and the Microsoft and VMware equivalents. I expect these products will all end up being virtualised inside of or be replaced by my preferred style of approaches as they become obsolete, and indeed hardware directions would seem to make that inevitable. The alternative is what many companies have already, a plethora of incompatible virtualisation systems.
  • Software and law, as applied in medical informatics and aerospace engineering. I spend a lot of time at the intersection of law and technology.
  • The optimisation problems related to space engineering, space travel and space marketing. The aerospace sector is in many respects stuck in the 1960s and who knows? I may have some partial solutions to the human and technical problems involved. It is always interesting to talk to others who are also working in this area.

You can contact me at dan@shearer.org.

Now I'm in Europe ...

From 2005 I've been based in Europe.

I've done my research and in case anyone was doubting it there is a commercial Free Software/Open Source (OSS) industry in Scotland and the UK in general. It isn't France or India, but it does exist. And since I'm consulting to companies from my base in Edinburgh, that makes me part of it. If you're interested in any of the above areas, drop me a line.

In 2010, interest in OSS has really picked up in the UK. Governments, companies of all sizes including traditionally conservative-minded giants are investing and exploring. Significant deployments are happening, affecting tens of thousands of people. This is more like it! In France the situation has always been complicated - a much stronger base level of interest and activity, but also some very strong resistance to change.


  • I was based in Australia until 2003, travelling to Europe and America more often than I care to remember. Communitywise I inhabited LinuxSA, linux.conf.au and worked with the good people at Linux.org.au and AUUG. Commercially I worked with dozens of companies, either massive or tiny but not many in-between.
  • I spent a year during 2003/2004 being sick with various blood and immune-system nasties. Thanks for the understanding support of so many people!
  • We moved to California during 2004/2005, where I worked for the outstanding Swedish company Virtutech, living in Cupertino. Virtutech does my preferred kind of virtualisation. Virtutech is now owned by Wind River, in turn owned by Intel. By now 'we' numbered five in total, eek!
  • In August 2005 I moved to Edinburgh. If the kids speak with a Scottish accent, does that make me a Scot?

  1. Twenty-five years in 2010 from my first commercial contract. Which, compared to many of the people I've begged knowledge from in the minicomputer and mainframe worlds, is nothing at all.
  2. An excellent position to take, but please along with it make sure you place high demands and standards on those who provide you with IT. The thing I find depressing about so many people who have no interest in IT is that they are willing to accept shoddy solutions and think problems arise from their own ineptitude. Whereas it is the reverse! Be the 'unreasonable man' of George Bernard Shaw's definition!

Retrieved from "http://shearer.org/Dan"
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