Being a part of the team that developed Twitter was an excellent lesson in connecting the dots between different types of technology, and made me really want to create things that people use.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Hello! I am a creative programmer, and have been living in San Francisco for the past 18 years. I started out at Sony in Culver City painting digital backgrounds for popular children's animation. I then moved to SF to study 3D animation where I discovered my interest in interactive programming. In 2004 I became the ActionScript developer at Odeo which eventually spawned Twitter. In 2009 I started my own company Secret Feature that focuses on interactive digital experiences. I collect synthesizers and also enjoy audio programming in Native Instruments Reaktor. With 3D and audio synthesis now available in JavaScript, I have been spending my time creating new interactive experiences that were previously not possible in a browser.

What do you do for inspiration?

I read science fiction, explore YouTube, shop flea markets, travel and attend experimental and techno music events.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

YouTube, Twitter, Slashdot

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Being a part of the team that developed Twitter was an excellent lesson in connecting the dots between different types of technology, and made me really want to create things that people use. While 808 Cube is a much different type of project, I am proud of to have created something unique that has been seen by so many people. Receiving an FWA for this project is a huge accomplishment for me, and also confirms my belief that there is a market for oddball ideas.

How many hours do you work each week?

I usually spend 40 hours coding, but also spend a lot of time programming synthesizers and sharing new ideas with friends.

How do you relax or unwind?

Reading sci-fi and comics, listening to records and playing with my two year old daughter.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

Making music, art and probably more physical products.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

My favorite part is coming up with a concept and creating it. The hardest part is the details. I will spend as much time making an interactive audio reactive 3D element as I will spend attempting to get an element positioned exactly how I want it using an elegant cross-browser solution in CSS. This is frustrating. When I get stuck I take my 2 Corgis, Chimichanga and Chimichurri, for a walk. Usually a solution I overlooked will come to mind just by walking away for a couple minutes.

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

I have worked continuously for days at a time with minimal sleep, but I feel it's more of an accomplishment to do this at a hackathon where the intention is to create something cool in a weekend vs. working in fear of not making a deadline. 

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

I learned to program Coldfusion over the course of 6 years at my first startup job, Veracast Communications. Once I learned more ActionScript and JavaScript I realized there were more creative opportunities to explore using these languages, so I took a risk and left that job to pursue these types of contracts. My first gig was to build a web based podcast recorder for Odeo, which is the company that eventually created Twitter, and that really changed the course of my career in a big way.

What software could you not live without?

Three.js. I can't imagine 3D in the browser being any more simple and with such a complete feature set. 

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

I try my best to actively work on a single project at a time. I believe I do my best work when I totally immerse myself, and it also allows my ideas for new projects and music to mature a bit before I dive in.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

The Web Audio API continues to blow me away. I'm still surprised such a full-featured audio programming language is available in nearly every major browser.

Who is your target audience?

I am interested in combining accessible UI with experiences previously locked up in high-end audio equipment, and combining features intended for gaming with fun sound experiments. My target audiences are users that have limited to no experience with this technology as well as hardcore geeks.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

Receiving an award for such an offbeat idea as combining a Roland 808 with a Rubik's cube encourages me to continue doing what I love.

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on this project with Google. I can't imagine any other major company funding such a fun/odd collection of projects as the ones found in the Chrome Cube Lab. 

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

I developed a type of content management system for Veracast Communications from 1998-2004 and as far as I know they are still using it.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

My wife, Keiko, and I opened an art gallery called Kokoro Studio in 2009. We exhibited art that we liked from artists all over the world. We closed Kokoro in 2012 when our daughter Kiki was born, but we met so many talented artists who remain a large part of our social circle today. This allows us to continue to take part in cool projects with interesting people. We hope to reopen Kokoro sometime in the future either online or in some other format.

The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

A couple years ago I may have felt hindered by the web as a medium for digital solutions, but high-speed mobile computing, realtime HD graphics and new browser technology has changed that entirely. My recent project with designer Superdeux is called PollySynth. The original concept was to have a signature synthesizer sound that follows you around in physical space. The final version was an interactive projection controlled from users' smartphones, all running in Google Chrome. While this still remained in the browser, the definition of a web browser has clearly been blurred and I imagine this trend will continue.

What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

I would have to say Japan. Tokyo is the leader in fashion and consumer technology. The fandom there is unlike anywhere else, and this leads to some insane art installations such as a 60 foot animatronic Gundam robot. Japan is a relatively small country but you can find virtually the best, and most likely a more extreme, form of whatever it is you are looking for. For me it's synthesizers, music and video games. I had the opportunity to visit the web design company Kayac in Kamakura. They have the slickest office I have ever seen besides creating some really cutting edge interactive work.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

I purchased a Soundcraft Ghost analog mixing desk off Craigslist. My studio is becoming a little crowded.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you!


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