jacques steyn


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

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.


I have many other interests ranging from photography and architecture, to music and genealogy.

I have performed in many different music styles - from the blues, musicals, and cabaret to rock and classical opera, and play several instruments, including keyboards and guitar. I was singer/dancer in the musical production of Mame, performed at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre, and member of PACT's performance of Wagner's Flying Dutchman. I have done several European style cabaret with Marieta Esterhuyse at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. My rock band, 2B2 performed at the original Houtstok Rock Festival on the outskirts of Pretoria.

I love dancing, particularly Latin American, such as the salsa, bachita, and the Cuban cha-cha.

My interest in genealogical research was to trace the origin of the Steyn family in South Africa. Five Steyns emigrated from Europe to South Africa. I am descendant from two Steyn families: through my father from Johannes Steyn (arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in 1748, probably from Darmstad, Germany), and through my mother from Douwe Gerbens Steyn, who arrived from Leeuwarden (Netherlands) around 1688, and who was the construction manager ('baasmetselaar') of the fort built by the Dutch in what is today Cape Town. Douwe married Maria Lozee, whose surname indicates that at the time she lived in the slave quarters.


I love the finer things of life: beauty of sound, of touch, of smell, of vision....