I'm of the opinion that if you really want to know a person, you've got to know what they love. In that spirit, here's a list of some things that fit the bill—and that tell a bit of my story along the way.
I’m a big believer in the promise of the internet, and I love designing with the grain of the web. I’m often tinkering with code in Visual Studio in my spare time; that's me on the left, showing my kid how to code on a cold day in NYC. (Look how excited he is!)
Between 2019 and 2022, I lived in the Upper West Side of New York City. Because I grew up in the hills of Northern California, I didn’t think I’d love the city. But boy, I’ve never been so wrong. I would run every morning in either Central or Riverside Park, and I would traipse through the Ramble or the Great Lake in Central Park, all the while meeting friends and watching people. The walkability and the mixed-use streets were amazing. The subway: I loved it. Oh, and the food—the food. It was incredible!
The city is great, and I miss it very much.
I had a small gig at the artisanal chocolate shop Taste for three years, leading chocolate appreciation classes a couple of times a month. It was the best job—combining my love of storytelling and teaching with flavorful chocolates and cheeses. If you want to treat yourself (or get me a little gift), the Amadei Pistacchi or the François Pralus Melissa are always good choices.
I've always loved reading. In elementary school, I would get in trouble for reading in class when I wasn’t supposed to. Among the authors who led me to love reading are Isaac Asimov (Foundation), Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), and KA Applegate (Animorphs).
Since 2014, when I started to track my reading, I’ve read around 350 books. Today, I read a lot more non-fiction, philosophy, and history, but I still love my old roots in science-fiction and fantasy. My favorite design books include Abby Covert’s How to Make Sense of Any Mess and Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research.
I was born half-deaf in my right ear, though I sometimes tell people I lost my hearing setting off a pipe-bomb in a school bathroom. (Ten points if you can name that movie!)
This disability, only felt in loud places, has helped me see that disability is not some inherent property—it’s a function of our bodies meeting the built world, something Sara Hendren articulates wonderfully in her book What Can a Body Do. So for example, someone using a wheelchair is not disabled, so long as the built world accommodates; a ramp, for instance. With only steps, however, they are disabled. And for me, being half-deaf, I only feel my disability in loud places.
So I'm very interested in accessibility, understood as a property of the built world. Whether it involves wheelchair ramps, support for screen-readers, voice interfaces, or hearing aids, design can be inclusive.
Before I discovered UX in college, I was planning to obtain a Masters in Instructional Design. I’d always loved teaching, something that probably started as a teenager, where I had chance to teach Sunday School classes and had the chance to teach incoming Freshmen and Sophomores in High School how to code.
Since starting into design, one of my favorite career moments was teaching UX and VUI design at Utah Valley University.
Bernard Williams once wrote that “We suffer from a poverty of concepts.” And in that spirit, if I hoard anything besides books, it’s ideas—and the PKM (personal knowledge management) tools I use to collect them.
For awhile I collected all my notes in Day One App, a company I got to know by doing UX research for them. Now, I collect my ideas in Obsidian, a fantastic tool, using Andy Matuschak’s Evergreen Notes strategy. I have over 1400 accumulating notes about design, philosophy, literature, religion, technology, economics, and anything else that strikes me as important enough to save.
I'm also fascinated by memory, and use a spaced repetition system regularly.
Last but not least, I dearly love my family. I met my wonderful wife in college, and she’s been my best friend and companion through thick and thin. We also have an awesome little boy that I love chasing and giving raspberries.