June 6, 2018 · 3 minute read

To some things I find it hard to give a name. Like myself. Am I a software engineer, a “data scientist”, a poet?

I have a masters degree in Computer Science with a focus on Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence. Not knowing how software and life combine, however, I left my tech job two years ago to become a writer. At the time I thought I would be leaving it all behind. Looking back now, I realize I’ve only been drawn closer to technology in ways I couldn’t imagine before.

Today, I think of computers as tools which can help us navigate this complex life we all live. This position of making use of a computer to accomplish a purpose (navigating complexities) is very different from the position I took before (programming useless applications). By putting purpose at the center, we are forced to find a way forward. Purpose guides us to discover helpful technology, or build some.

My Purpose

My purpose is to do the right thing. It is from this simple, deceptively naive articulation of purpose that all complexities and sophistications arise for me. What is the right thing after all? What is worth doing?

I look at the world around me. I see a broken food system which unroots food from natural communities and plants it in factories. I see a broken economy fuelled by the belief that there is not enough for everyone, that you have to either grow or die. I see a torn down social fabric leaving people isolated, vulnerable and depressed. Given the circumstances, doing the right thing today seems exceedingly complicated.

Things are changing now as we understand the limitations of the systems we have built. We are reimagining the future. We are talking about possibilities. We are aiming for love and justice. And I want to be a part of this change.

The promise of technology in my opinion, is a future where we have understood and alleviated our (currently broken) relationship with nature and people.

My Toolbox

I’m a new kind of story teller. New in the sense that I write programs to observe facts and apply statistical analysis to make sense of what I see. I communicate through digital visualizations and of course through human language. I’m fascinated by language as key to understanding who we really are and as the main vessel of change. I employ text analysis to study companies, organizations and individuals through their use of language.

I find that networks, as models of how people and things are connected, sit at the heart of discussions about effective action. Networks provide a framework for understanding social structures and how different kinds of structures confer different benefits; as such, they can facilitate and focus our conversations about what needs to be done. I use social network analysis to gain insights into communities.

During my years of working at big and small tech companies around Vancouver, I have learned how to design, build and test software systems. I enjoy data/information modeling and database design. I’m good at designing APIs, architecting an end-to-end software system or understanding/extending/redesigning existing ones. I take an iterative, test-first approach to development and am keen on clear, written communication