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Steyn academics


My two main research fields have been Development Informatics and Music Informatics, with a strong emphasis on web technologies.

I have a keen interest in socio-technology, and more recently I am researching the impact of the cognitive machine or 4th Industrial Revolution on society.

I am also interested in how we know - especially in these days of fake news and weird beliefs that are gaining media attention - such as flat earthers, or climate change deniers...

Development Informatics investigates the sustainable deployment of ICT within constraints environments, such as remote or rural areas. Remoteness is not necessarily only geographical (with implications such as access to networks), but could also mean being socially remote from mainstream societies (such as language illiteracy or device illiteracy). The discipline focuses on the design and analysis of ICT systems within such constraints. From this perspective ICT systems, as a set of complex inter-related systems, are investigated across sub-systems ranging from technologies (eg. network and device design) to human aspects (such as HCI and social networks).

I was Editor in Chief of a book set Development Informatics and Regional Information Technologies: Theory, Practice and the Digital Divide (2011; see publications for details).

Music Informatics researches the relationship between music and computers. I have developed an XML-based language for music: a general Music Markup Language and I participated in the ISO/MPEG workgroup to incorporate music notation in to MPEG4 along with other members of the Interactive Music Network group.

I was also editor of a book Structuring Music through Markup Language: Designs and Architectures (2013; see publications for details)..

My main philosophical interests is a complex systems interpretation of the world, such as promoted by the Santa Fe Institute. When I find time, I am writing a book on the origins and history of religion from a naturalist perspective.


I received an award from the South African Association for the Advancement of Science (S2A3) for my masters degree for excellence in science.



My academic career began with teaching Linguistics at Unisa before switching over to research on ICT for distance education and support for academic staff, also at Unisa. I served as Senior Advisor/Deputy Director at Unisa for about a decade.

When the internet became public I left the university and consulted to the private sector (for another decade) on ICT, multimedia and particularly web technologies.

I was consultant to some of the largest e-commerce products developed in South Africa, such as at Standard Bank. I briefly managed the first South African Multimedia degree as Associate Professor at the University of Pretoria.

August 2003 I joined the School of IT at Monash South Africa, and was appointed Head of School in February 2005, a position I held until 2012, after which I served as Acting Head of School until the end of 2016.

I am presently Extraordinary Research Fellow at Monash South Africa.