Director of Design, Vice President of Product and advisor to the Board of Directors
March 2012 to present.
Some highlights from my product efforts include redesigning the company's flagship news app, then generalizing that design to its iPad TV app. I helped launch an HTML-based version of that same TV app which went live in the Arabic world thanks to a partnership with Ericcson. I also lead efforts to develop a functional prototype of a radically new TouchTV redesigned as a low-interaction information graphic suitable to any screen.
I helped mentor engineers from our internship program by offering detailed feedback on their work, coaching how to think through their problems, and by putting challenging projects in front of them.
To prove that most of what people think of as "design talent" is not natural born but learned, I taught a marketer how to properly design "beautiful" layouts. Her newfound attention to proportion, composition, and emphasis surprised everybody. She had no formal training in design before this, just a good sense of empathy for the people that would use her work.
I sparked several internal tools for prototyping and developing our software. These sped things up and improved the quality of our output. Lastand perhaps most satisfyingI inspired a graphic designer to say, "I feel like a real designer again." I felt the same.
Hey, look! Childhood pro basketball dream #2 came true too, but Can't-Get-No-Satisfaction-style with a minor league version of my favorite team. They might win games.
Early in 2012 I left my position as Partner and Design Lead with a terrific group of people at ZURB. It was a great run. I can't wait to see what they do next.
As consultant I lead design of the initial product called Shopycata gift-recommendation app on Facebooklaunched in early 2012 to some fanfare.
More funbut less shareablewas the in-store social research. We shopped with several customers in real Walmart stores, testing location-based mobile software concepts. One customer wore a large plush elephant hat. Another was hit on in the pharmacy. Fascinating!
Impressed and informed by Bret Victor
Once Bret decided which windmills to tilt at after leaving Apple, he started publishing essays and "pooping out" rants that are altering the way I think about what I do.
I fell into an obnoxious new hobby doting on and photographing this little dude named Oscar. He is the most powerful alarm clock I've ever had.
Everything you can say about having a child has been said already, and that makes these things a cliche. Still, there are few dividing lines like this in your life. You cross this one and some sort of biological switch just clicks. Is calling it euphoria too cliche?
Running time 1:07 (that's hours and minutes, sorry).
Inspired by John Medina
He is a developmental molecular biologist and his best book is called Brain Rules for Baby. This is unfortunate, because it is about early human development, not just babies.
Inspired and informed by Dave Berri
Often what you think causes something is just not what does. Dave has taught me what sound research looks like and what it doesn't. In an era of "big data," his insights from sports are applicable far and wide.
Mind blown by Bill Buxton
I unfairly call him the Gordon Ramsay (BBC version) of industrial design. His long resume doesn't do his fiery, inspired style justice. He got in my face and helped me to see my profession as sacred, but also poorly done.
All the 'natural born talent' we think we see in great performers turns out to be a product of years of hard work. But not just any workColvin does an amazing job sharing structured and detailed lessons about what it means to deliberately practice something.
This book rewired my brain and renewed my belief that people can learn at any stage of life. We aren't trapped by our genes (just by time, effort, and focus!).
"I've always thought inspiration was for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." Chuck Close
I joined ZURB as employee #1 in the first week of 2004. We spent that first week operating on dial-up. Before long I adopted the moniker 'forgottenboy' for my hardware and software peripherals thanks to a song from this route into Hollywood North. It got me pumped.
Created a series of animated touchscreen kiosks developed for the physical stores. Dawned the blue vest to do research. Provided storyboarding, audio, and animation production for "Dancing Mike," the kiosk's helpful Dr. Katz-like character.
Was also part of the design team that set the company's web style guide, an internal product that has stood the test of time almost a decade now! (I'm not sure if that is entirely a good thing.)
Got inspired by David Kelley and Peter Skillman of IDEO, as well as this guy Jason Fried who launched a company named after the 37 possible signals of extraterrestrial life.
Co-founded a company called NING Empire. We were crazy and had lots of fun, even if we weren't focused. One thing we did was wine labels and winery website. Another thing we did was web comics and animations, including a serialized cartoon about the avocado black market in Southern California titled The Slimy Green Trail.
One of the last things we did before ending a good three-year run was develop the pilot for a children's cartoon called Boog. We had Terri Hatcher as one of the lead voice actors. We almost sold it to Nickelodeon. Almost.
Was a graduate teaching assistant in the University of California at Santa Cruz's burgeoning New Media department. I taught software and hardware to art students. In retrospect this was all wild-eyed hacking, but also an incredibly valuable learning period for me!
Inspired by the elective courses and advising I got from Donna Haraway, author of A Manifesto for Cyborgs. She taught me to see and challenge assumptions embedded in our way of thinking. That sounds abstract, but it's not. I use it everyday.
My senior show graduating from UCSC's art program took place over three weeks in the Bridge Gallery. Two of those weeks were spent living in the gallery while installing the show. Yes, my partner and I underestimated the work involved. it involved construction of walls, a stairwell and platform, lighting, audio, and several hidden interactions with software. The purpose of the show was to invite people to explore the study of a mysterious researcher. The whole thing was a little like the game Myst.
Both of my parents were schoolteachers. Four other relatives were too. My father was president of the teacher's union. Everyone in the offices of every school I ever visited already knew whose son I was. That was weird at first, but formed an important lesson about connections!
I grew up in Livermore, home of both Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories, the world's largest laser, and Edward Tellar (the real Dr. Strangelove!). This was a place Presidents visited and the Soviets had as a primary target. Carl Sagan got arrested while protesting just one mile from my house on at least three occasions!
Not surprisingly Wargames and TRON (partly shot in Livermore) were two of my favorite movies. This explains my love of Matthew Broderick and Jeff Bridges films to this day.
My first startup happened in the fourth grade when I recognized an opportunity to rent Choose Your Own Adventure books to the half of the market (my fourth grade class) who forgot theirs during mandatory reading time. It was a good model, but I failed at enforcing payment.
First drawing was of invisible man standing in front of a mirror, pouring a cup of tea. I have it around here somewhere.
Lets move along. There's nothing to see here.