Paul Dourish


I'm Scottish (hence the accent). I grew up in Glasgow, and then committed an act of cultural heresy by moving to Glasgow's evil arch-nemesis, Edinburgh. On the other hand, that wasn't as bad as when I later moved to England...

I studied Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. I also worked there to pay my way through school; I worked first in the Centre for Speech Technology Research) (part of the Department of Artificial Intelligence), and later at the University Computing Service, writing an implementation of Linda (cool) in occam (yuk) on a huge parallel transputer machine that eventually became the basis of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Center.

After graduating, I moved to Cambridge (the original one) to join what was then called Rank Xerox EuroPARC, and is now the Cambridge Lab of the Xerox Research Center Europe. I worked on a variety of projects around the general topic of computer support for workgroup collaboration, including the "RAVE" media space, the Portholes distributed awareness system, the Freeflow workflow architecture and the Prospero toolkit for collaborative applications. This last was also the topic of my PhD, which I took concurrently during my last few years there.

I came to the US in 1996 to work in the Discourse Architecture Lab at Apple Computer. When I arrived, the immigration official made some snide remarks about the fact that I wouldn't need a three-year visa, and he was right; Apple disbanded its research lab 10 months later. I moved up the road to Xerox PARC, to join the Computer Science Lab, home to the bean-bag chairs and various other holdouts from the seventies. The main project I worked on was a large interactive document system called Placeless Documents, although some side projects kept us amused.

We just bought a house. It's lovely, but needs some work. It's going to be quite a project...