I was born in Kansas City (year of the rat, house of the lion), grew up outside Kansas City, went to college in a small Minnesota town, and since then I've been living in and around San Francisco. I work for a product design consultancy called Cooper, where I design interactive experiences for all sorts of digital devices and platforms — glucose meters for nurses, online investment tools for financial professionals, computer-assisted surgical applications for doctors, and various other web, desktop and handheld things for people.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I wanted to be a writer. For a while, I wrote constantly, and wasted a lot of stamps trying to get people to read it. Eventually, I got bored of waiting for people to be amazed by what I'd mailed them. And while I was living on someone's couch and eating very little at the time, I eventually ran out of money; soon after, I ran out of credit. So I got a job at a small publishing house where I went through various post-college embarrassments — watching others do the real work while I became the de facto 90's tech IT guy, un-jamming the fax machine and walking documents between buildings.
One fall afternoon I decided to take a job on a farm. Some friends were going to a picnic at an organic vegetable farm in Bolinas, a small town north of San Francisco. Bolinas is known for its insularity, eccentricity and lawlessness, and for its large organic farms. I tagged along, and a month later, I was moving out of my city apartment, giving away a lot of stuff, loading pumpkins into the back of a truck and living in an Airstream trailer. Good times.
Over the course of the next few months, I enjoyed the fresh air, fresh food, and Cypress Hill, the field music of choice among my fellow farmers. When the rainy season came along, I took a job at an environmental education center called Slide Ranch, located a few miles down the coast near Muir Beach. After that, I bounced around for a while. I coordinated a literacy program at an Oakland homeless service agency (before the organization ran afoul of federal regulators), worked with recently adjudicated high school kids at a job skills program in West Oakland, and developed gallery demonstrations and exhibits at a science museum.
For the past five years, I've worked for Cooper, a product design consulting company. Cooper was founded in the early nineties by Alan Cooper, a software developer and author of a couple [1, 2] of influential books about software design. The company began as "Cooper Software," but became "Cooper Interaction Design" to emphasize our focus on the design portion of the software product development process. Today, we're just "Cooper," and we say that our work is "product design for a digital world." We design interactive products: strictly software products like web sites and applications, and software/hardware combinations like handheld devices, glucose meters, infusion pumps, and so on. I feel incredibly lucky to have found a job that is continually changing, and that involves story-telling, sketching, problem-solving, writing, and getting super deep in all kinds of weird fields. I find it so intensely fun that I often forget that it's work.