I’m a curious person and I love finding out about people’s work problems and generating creative solutions for them. I’m fascinated by emerging technologies and in my current role, have found ways to leverage big data, beacons, geolocation, various forms of AI (including sentiment analysis, decision support, summarization, and more), and phone cameras to help reduce repetitive work so that users can focus on more interesting problems.

But let’s go back to the beginning…

In the early days of the Internet coming into public consciousness, I was working on my doctorate in Clinical Psychology. A magazine called Mondo 2000, caught my attention and turned my world upside down. Mondo was an early predecessor to Wired, covering emerging tech topics like the cypherpunk movement, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and even had early articles on online communities. I discovered the Internet and realized this…was…going…to…change…everything. I wanted to be part of that!

I taught myself HTML, a bit of PERL, some Javascript, and learned about CGI and Internet protocols. I sought my first job in Silicon Valley and started working on creating the future.

I started working for a company called Sensemedia, building online communities. Our work was featured in books like Avatar! by Bruce Damer. We had the first networked “rock concert” that featured Aerosmith…but we didn’t have any sound! We pushed the edges of technology which wasn’t ready for the kinds of things we were trying to do.

I was involved in the earliest forays into online education, working with Daniel Schneider at Tecfa Universityin Geneva.

These were heady times. It was a whirlwind of passionate exploration of new technologies at a time when most people had still never heard of the Internet or the web.

I joined my first venture funded startup as a software engineer at a company called PlaceWare. We were the first innovators in online web conferencing and defined a brand new space. While there, I was working with engineering giants in the field. My co-workers had doctorates from Cornell and Stanford while I was a brand new, self taught engineer. I was an amoeba among giants.

But I noticed a trend in the things that thrilled me. My background in psychology, learning, memory, and cognition, and my interest in people pointed me in the direction of user experience design. I had great mentoring and also read voraciously to learn my craft.

The vision I had of what the Internet would be, seems naive compared to where we really are. But so much of what I imagined has also come true. We have thriving online communities. We can collaborate with anyone around the world at any time. We can talk to people without using the phone. We can learn about almost any topic so long as we can define the right keywords. And now, this technology can be carried with us in devices that fit in the palm of your hand.

I’m still excited to live in a world of ever moving technology and I love being part of creating the future.