|Born||28 June 1928|
|Died||29 March 1996 (aged 67)|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
University of London
|Known for||Conversation theory|
Interactions of actors theory
|Awards||Wiener Gold Medal (1984)|
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Georgia Institute of Technology
|Influenced||Ted Nelson, Nicholas Negroponte, Ranulph Glanville, Cedric Price|
Andrew Gordon Speedie Pask (28 June 1928 – 29 March 1996) was an English author, inventor, educational theorist, cybernetician and psychologist who made significant contributions to cybernetics, instructional psychology, experimental epistemology and educational technology. Pask first learned about cybernetics in the early 1950s when the originator of the subject, Norbert Wiener, spoke at Cambridge University, where Pask was an undergraduate student. Pask was asked to be of assistance during Wiener's talk.
Holding three doctorate degrees, Pask published more than 250 journal articles, books, patents and technical reports from funding from United States Armed Forces, the British Ministry of Defence, the British Home Office and the British Road Research Laboratory. He taught at the University of Illinois, Old Dominion University, Concordia University, Open University, University of New Mexico, Architectural Association School of Architecture and MIT.
Pask was born in Derby, England, in 1928, and educated at Rydal Penrhos. Before qualifying precociously as a mining engineer at Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, Pask studied geology at Bangor University. He obtained an MA in natural sciences from Cambridge in 1952 and a PhD in psychology from the University of London in 1964. Whilst visiting professor of educational technology, he obtained the first DSc from the Open University and an ScD from his college, Downing Cambridge in 1995. From the 1960s Pask directed commercial research at System Research Ltd in Richmond, Surrey and his partnership, Pask Associates.
Pask's primary contributions to cybernetics, educational psychology, learning theory and systems theory, as well as to numerous other fields, was his emphasis on the personal nature of reality, and on the process of learning as stemming from the consensual agreement of interacting actors in a given environment ("conversation").
His work was complex, extensive, and deeply thought out, at least until late in his life, when he benefited less often from critical feedback of research peers, reviewers of proposals and reports to government bodies in the US and UK, and, perhaps most especially, the tension between experimentation and theoretical stands. His publications, however, represent a storehouse of ideas that are not fully mined.
Musicolour was an interactive light installation developed by Pask during the 1950s. It responded to musicians' variations and, if they did not vary their playing, it would become 'bored' and stop responding, prompting the musicians to respond.
Musicolour was influential on Cedric Price's Generator project, via the work of consultants Julia and John Frazer.
Pask participated in the seminal exhibition "Cybernetic Serendipity" (ICA London, 1968) with the interactive installation "Colloquy of Mobiles", continuing his ongoing dialogue with the visual and performing arts. (cf Rosen 2008, and Dreher's History of Computer Art)
Pask's most well known work was the development of Conversation theory. It came out of his work on instructional design and models of individual learning styles. In regard to learning styles, he identified conditions required for concept sharing and described the learning styles holist, serialist, and their optimal mixture versatile. He proposed a rigorous model of analogy relations.
Pask wrote several books and more than two hundred journal articles.
Pask influenced Nicholas Negroponte, whose earliest research efforts at the Architecture Machine Group on "idiosyncratic systems" and software-based partners for design have their roots in Pask's work as a consultant to Negroponte's efforts
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