I consider myself exceedingly lucky in that quite a few of my web projects are for some very talented people, most of whom find their way to me by means of word of mouth recommendations.
Most of the time, it’s a straightforward task to work out what the person wants from their website.
Often, it involves digging into the client’s background, achievements, skills, plans and aspirations in order to properly understand them and their product or service and frame a web presence that will do them justice.
Sometimes, as I have just recently found out, that process can take me a year. Step forward, Professor Iain McCalman.
To say Iain is an over-achiever is an understatement.
Just to give you an idea, his CV runs to 16 pages, including 14 books he has authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited; 46 articles in books or refereed journals (which includes publications such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography, English Historical Review, American Guide to Historical Sources and Dictionary of Literary Biography), another 16 articles in non-refereed journals and the like (New York Times, The Australian, Cosmos, History Magazine, etc); 51 papers delivered at international conferences and seminars; 34 public lectures delivered at symposiums and festivals; 10 international conferences he co-convened; the four international workshops for professionals he has conducted; and the 17 occasions on which has acted as consultant to international art and msueum exhibitions and documentary films and television series.
Then there are the 34 occasions of professional service on councils, boards and committees, 19 of university service and eight of government service.
He is currently Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Sydney and Adjunct Professor at ANU. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and has held Visiting Research Fellowships in Britain and the US, including at All Souls, Oxford and as a Mellon Visiting Professor at Californian University of Technology, Pasadena.
He is, of course, a teacher – supervising an average of four PhD students a year plus a number of Masters and Honours students, and was awarded the Inaugural Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Teaching Excellence at the Australian National University in 1994. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007 for services to history and the humanities.
Iain’s is by no means a dry, academic renown.
His book Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution (2009) was published in separate editions by Penguin in Australia, Simon and Schuster in the UK and WW Norton in the US. It was favourably reviewed by, among others, the New Yorker, The New York Times, Kirkus Review, The Times Higher Education Supplement, the Guardian, and the Australian Literary Review.
It also attracted glowing reviews from major Darwinist scholars such as Janet Browne (Harvard), Harriet Ritvo (Harvard) and Stephen Rose (University of London). An international conference in its honour, Darwin Across the Disciplines was held at Duke University in November 2009. The book was shortlisted for seven Australian literary awards, including the Age Book of the Year and the Walkley Award for Non-Fiction, and won the Western Australian Premier’s Book Prize for Non-Fiction.
It was the basis of exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum of Australia and at the Macleay Museum, a Film Australia website and a three-part TV series, Darwin’s Brave New World, shown in Australia, Canada, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
Iain’s literary agent decided it was high time he had a website of his own, and sent Iain to me.
I admit I was daunted – by the task, not the man, I should add: Iain is a highly personable and engaging chap, very easy to spend time with – and I admit I dithered and dallied with a range of high falutin’ ideas, before coming back (eventually) to a relatively simple structure that just aimed to make his extraordinary career thus far navigable to the web visitor, and offered scope to include whatever the next chapters of his life may hold.
There is still much work to do in including all the possible content and interlinking it to accommodate as many paths of interest to the visitor as possible, but I am mightily relieved that I have at last been able to launch the site, and that my client is delighted with it.