When I first posted what is now known as a blog it was 1997 and I was somewhat cautious about going on to social media. Since I held an academic position at the University of Otago and was depending on my scientific research reputation to secure grants, I decided to hide behind an avatar called "MERLINNZ" to avoid scrutiny.  

I retained that avatar and became Merlin NZ on Facebook -- mainly to keep in touch with the children's and grandchildren's photos and postings. Occasionally I (or my wife) would post something of interest to the family and friends but have not attempted to become a social media influencer or wish to do so.

In 1999 I was appointed to the role of Associate Dean of Website and Communications for the Health Science Division of the University of Otago, a position I held for 10 years. The main terms of reference were to oversee the development of websites within the Departments and Schools of the Health Science Division (which mainly included the Medical School); to audit and ensure "best Practice" in website design was being adhered to and to co-ordinate the development of the website for teaching purposes.

Beginning in 2000, I became the chairman of the Web Advisory Committee (WAC) which had oversight for the development of the University's corporate website. From the beginning there was a tension as to who should ‘own’ the website — Marketing & Communications Division felt it was theirs as of right since it was about promoting the University — ITS claimed it was theirs since it was mainly about providing computer services, while academics felt that the Web was far too important to be captured by vested interests. When I retired in 2009, Marketing & Communications Division had more or less captured the control of the University corporate website.

Fast forward to 2023, I have recently rebranded the Merlinnz Blog website and deleted a large number of 'historical' postings. At the age of 85 I have come out from behind the avatar and feel comfortable expressing my views and opinions to all and sundry.


For further information and correspondence, email me:  james@kalmakoff.co.nz