About The Undisciplined

Welcome to The Undisciplined

The short version…

What… is my name? 

Shane McNamee

What… is my quest?

To rant about the many diverse subjects I find myself distracted by on a daily basis. In the hope that a few others might find them interesting too.

What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Well Jonathan Corum has dedicated much time and effort into coming up with a satisfactory answer to this age-old question and determined that;

Although a definitive answer would of course require further measurements, published species-wide averages of wing length and body mass, initial Strouhal estimates based on those averages and cross-species comparisons, the Lund wind tunnel study of birds flying at a range of speeds, and revised Strouhal numbers based on that study all lead me to estimate that the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles an hour.

… the longer, more self-indulgent version

I have always been fascinated by numerous, impractically diverse, areas of academic endeavour.  When I was younger l intermittently, and often concurrently, toyed with the ideas of going on to study medicine, psychology, law, languages or even physics, before finally settling on the choice of Law and German at Trinity College Dublin. That choice involved an Erasmus year studying abroad in Erlangen, strengthening my German and giving me a frustrating but fascinating look from the inside at how another legal system (as well as university exam structure) works. Later working as a localisation tester for Activision Blizzard, while not my long-term ambition, did make me wonder whether I could somehow make video games an acceptable subject for me to study from an academic perspective.

However, the prevalence of the term “discipline” came about on moving to Edinburgh to complete an LLM in Innovation, Technology and the Law. I chose courses dealing with areas such as biotech, medical jurisprudence, copyright, IT law, competition law, AI and the law, and soon found myself particularly well-acquainted with the terms “interdisciplinary” and “multidisciplinary”. Interdisciplinarity became the only way I could explain to people what I did. Other law-minded types didn’t follow the overly technical aspects of IT or biotechnology I was studying, and those studying these areas couldn’t understand why a comparatively clueless law student was attending lectures on subjects like regenerative medicine. But interdisciplinarity became my byword, my justification for simply studying the things I liked because I liked them, and worrying about making them relevant to my studies after. For this I owe many thanks to the wonderful Mason Institute, who provided amazing opportunities to mix a legal education with an interest in the life sciences. I accepted that mixing disciplines was actually something real academics were allowed to do: Professors talked about the legal implications of sex robots, classification of streamed gaming as a broadcast, machine-assisted euthanasia, the legal position of cyborgs, and so on…

So the title “undisciplined”, to me, reflects a reluctance to adhere strictly to one academic discipline, as well as the all-too-human problems of allowing one’s newest interest to delay the completion of current projects. I might have, over the years, finished my various essays and projects sooner, were I a bit more focussed, but perhaps I would also have missed out on some of the more unique insights I like to think I have had, and hope are reflected in my work.

Before creating this site, I joked with a friend about starting a law journal exclusively for the weird, abstract and downright silly areas of law which might have difficulty finding a niche elsewhere. I see this site as a small reflection of that idea. A place where I can voice thoughts on the more “interesting” aspects of law and science, ideally without taking it all to seriously.

I remain yours sincerely,

The Undisciplined Shane McNamee

LLB (TCD) LLM (Edinburgh)

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Incidentally, this site is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence.

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An undisciplined, multidisciplinary repository for thoughts on Law, Ethics, Science, Technology, Gaming, and Various Other Words