“It’s definitely not the weather, really!”

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Photos by David Dunkley Gyimah

What on earth compelled me to do this? Vertigo wasn’t the half of it. A blustering wind and perpetual rain were choices I’d rather not have to consider. Either get wet or prep for a Mary Poppins impression. I got wet. By the time I’d finished walking Google said I’d clocked up 15 km. A Good night sleep beckons today then.

Two weeks in and the days appear to be racing ahead. I’m here at the University of British Columbia as their incumbent Asper Visiting Professor of Journalism.

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David with Students and facing him faculty teaching assistants

The first week was an unfurling of journalistic technology practice and the threats to its traditional rules to the 100s — starting undergrads.

Technology requires a social need I said, pointing to examples such as Facebook and the Flash light. Objectivity too was never supposed to apply to journalists as a standard, it was supposed to be the methods. They understood.

What too are the pressures when you’re trying to file a news piece and someone you’re acquainted with comes into your crossfire? What do you do? It’s a genuine concern that each generation must wrestle with.

Most revealing with the 100s was how the session ended with a social experiment. Hands up those of you who would pay for content, information, news etc, I asked.

Three out of four people raised their hands. Who’s willing to share their data? A number of hands went down. We are, if this is anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, and based on previous hearings, entering a new era of privacy and people paying for services.

My welcome by faculty has been deeply invitingly warm and open, with either a series of lectures with 100s and MAs lined up, or an invitation to sit in and contribute where I can.

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This second week has been a series of meetings and emails across campus, and clumsily bundling myself into others’ lectures, who graciously have not sent me packing. Otherwise, I’m hovering around conversations with MAs willing to put up with me. The magnificence of medium posting, finding that USP and podcasts are frequent conversation thus far.

One of the most testing aspects of my stay so far that continues to floor me, and serves me right, has been re-adjusting my body clock. It’s bad enough in the UK, when normally I’ll get to bed by 12 midnight and am up by 6.00 a.m to the Today programme, but nearly two weeks in, what’s going on? Three weeks ago I was in Ghana, then the UK and Canada. Three continents — that’ll teach me.

Two days in a row I’ve hit the sack about 11 only to spring bolt upright by 3.30 a.m. That feeling when you wish for more sleep. Yesterday I tried a something else. Go to be Bed at 1 O’clock in the morning. That should give me a six-hour snooze fest. Not a chance. Up again at 4.00 a.m. Grrrr.

A friend suggested Melatonin pills. I almost succumbed but the pharmacist couldn’t tell me the difference between 1mg or 5mg. I’m letting nature continue to handle me.

Excited, I’m learning. The deep issues surrounding indigenous nations were not part of my core social knowledge, but I have become keen to learn more.

In my own practices around innovation, video storytelling, radio-podcasts I can be caught smiling in lectures — one of those acknowledgment gestures which is the equivalent of doffing your cap. Friday I have a meeting with a scholar from Asian studies. I have a hunch for VR that radicalises how else it could be understood. 4D anyone? This previous post gives some clues. Meanwhile, I’m lined up to give a series of talks and workshops in the coming weeks to which I’m greatly looking forward. And finally, I got my Mavic drone to activate, so good weather permitting I’ll test it along the coast line.

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Undeterred by the rain, the following day I set off again with the gregarious Azhur, an architect starting a five year PhD, and friends, who’ve invited me and down town for Sushi.

The venue is a boutique restaurant where the price is reasonable, but finding it is the real prize. It’s tucked in a building away from other eateries.

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I’m realising how not having enough time means, at least whilst I can, and despite my self-inflicted insomnia, I’ll burn the digital candle at both ends.

Hence, I have started to document my journey with photographs taken on the DSLR and thinking through a series video blogs around a pop studio, and if I can get a cinema journalism piece out all the better. My drone is feeling the need to fly, from sitting patiently on my window ledge. With some luck to I’m angling for an excursion to story land.

For the meantime, I’m making my way back to Green College where I’m staying, before the rain turns for the worse. There’s a series of talks almost every day from a range of scholars. Yesterday focused on water flows and the prospects of running out of it, whilst city planners ape one another over their designs. The similarities between Hong Kong and Vancouver are not incidental, I learn.

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Nine O’clock and following a bout of ping pong with Graham completing his PhD in physics centring around super conductors, I’m back in my room.

Maybe today I can push back my sleeping to 2.00 a.m. Do you think it’ll work? And by the way, that walk across the bridge, so much for a good night!

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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