I'm a digital product and graphics designer. I love device responsive web standards, functional user interfaces and branding — especially if there's a new product or service involved.

That's pretty specific, though. Deep down I really love designing all sorts of things. I geek out on physically interactive spaces and objects, data art, computational aesthetics, as well as bio-design.

I studied visual communication and art history at The George Washington University and I'm a graduate of New York University's innovative design and technology master's program, ITP.

I live, work and ride bikes in sunny Brooklyn, NY.


Academic Experience

2010.09 — 2012.05

Master of Professional Studies
Interactive Telecommunication Program (ITP) Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

2000.09 — 2004.05

BA Visual Communications with minor in Art History
The George Washington University
Graduated Cum Laude
National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Spring 2003 semester at Sydney University, AU

Professional Experience

2012.08 — present

UX Designer, Microsoft, New York, NY

I'm only just getting started.

2012.01 — 2012.05

Interaction Designer, SumAll, New York, NY

Worked with a small team of designers and developers to release the front-end of an analytics web application. Integrating an impressive array of data sources into a smart and charming experience, the application allows ecommerce business owners to save time and make better decisions.

2011.06 — 2011.09

UX Designer, Microsoft Bing, Bellevue, WA

Worked with design, editorial, dev and program management teams to scope, design and develop prototypes for a soon-to-be-released Bing.com feature during a summer internship. The internship culminated in two presentations of the feature prototypes to senior leadership at Microsoft as well as the Bing design team.

2007.02 — 2010.08

Graphic & Interaction Designer, Empax, Inc., New York, NY

Created a range of environmental, print and interactive materials to promote nonprofit clients and their causes. responsible for designing and presenting brand strategies, identities, print collateral, environmental signage, animation, user experience and interface, content management system setup and third party plug-in and data integration, search engine optimization, user analytics and testing.

2006.12 — 2011.08

Freelance Graphic & Interaction Design Consultant, New York, NY

Worked as a sole proprietor with various clients from retail, music, film, nonprofit, real estate and technology industries to create and improve existing brand and user experiences across many platforms and media, although mostly print and web.

2004.04 — 2006.01

Graphic Designer, The George Washington University Communication & Creative Services, Washington, DC

Worked with project management and external production vendors to deliver a range of print and interactive material related to university publications and communications initiatives. responsibilities included design and implementation of print collateral, posters, animation, environmental signage, web publication and press checks.

Other Experience

2011.11 — 2012.02

Vibrant Technology Researcher, Intel Research, NYC
Grant recipient working with NYU faculty, Intel researchers and student collaborators to design and develop a prototype for a location-based interactive organism that explores what happens when technologies are re-envisioned as peers instead of tools.

2006.01 — 2006.12

English Teacher, NOVA Japan, Kure-shi, Hiroshima-ken, Japan
Taught and mentored students of all ages and abilities in small to medium-sized classes to improve proficiency in english linguistics and conversation.

Selected Press & Publications


Project: #BKME
Creative Applications (Web)
“BKME.ORG – A Web Platform for Reclaiming Bike Lanes”
by Greg J. Smith


Project: #BKME
Laughing Squid (Web)
“BKME, Web Platform For Recording Bicycle Lane Violations”
by Edw Lynch


Project: Budget Climb
Freakonomics (Web)
“What Would it Be Like to Climb 26 Years of Federal Spending?”


Project: Budget Climb
Flowingdata (Web)
“Physically climb over budget data with Kinect”
by Nathan Yau


Project: Gedenk Logo
Logo Lounge 6 (Book)
by Catharine Fishel and Bill Gardner, Rockport Publishers


Project: Pousse Cafe
Gizmodo (Web)
“A Bartender That Pours The Perfect Shot, Every Shot” by Matt Buchanan


Project: The 2007 Gotham Awards Logo
Basic Logos (Book)
by Index Book


The Alliance for Climate Protection Website
Print Magazine
“Dialogue: Martin Kace”
by Steven Heller

Selected Exhibitions


ITP Winter Show 2011, NYC


ITP Spring Show 2011, NYC


Data Viz Challenge Party, hosted by Eyebeam and Google, NYC


ITP Winter show 2010, NYC

Ambigularious Heuristic Search

November 28, 2011

Ambigularious Heuristic Search


Building upon where my previous look into how I might capture and record my bad jokes hopefully before they are told, after doing some research and reading I believe I now have a greater understanding of the nature of the humorous. My larger goal remains the same, that is to leverage the mind’s presumptive nature to enhance the quality of humorous commentary in any given situation – however this greater understanding has turned the direction of my means ever-so slightly. Through a bit of research I uncovered a very insightful passage from a particularly adept examination into the essential functions of the funny bone called “Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse Engineer the Mind” (Hurley, Matthew M., Dennett, Daniel C., Adams Jr., Reginald B.). “Inside Jokes” succeeds, where others have failed, in describing the nature of humor in a way that considers its selection as a trait paired directly and uniquely to the hominid’s capability for information exchange:

“Being funny is not just for fun; humor has been exapted as a tool in mate selection and sexual competition, allegiance probing, belief extraction, and the building of social capital…”

- location 173, Kindle edition

“The swift, broadband information highway that language provides our species is no doubt a major adaptation, permitting huge amounts of valuable (acquired) information to be transmitted from parents to their offspring, but this highway can also be used by other traffic, such as oblique transmission of possibly maladaptive information by manipulative nonkin, and various species of opportunistic junk. Just as cold viruses have evolved to exploit the sneezing reflex, the better to broadcast their progeny to infect new hosts, so information viruses may have evolved to exploit the human dispositions to communicate so as to spread themselves through a population of (amused) hosts…
“… On the other hand, … [humor]… may have been appropriated at some point for various fitness-enhancing purposes. An obvious possibility is that human hosts who have a large store of high-quality humor to dispense (and dispense well) are more popular, more likely to influence others, and hence more likely to accumulate the social capital that enhances their reproductive fitness. A more direct link to fitness would be proposed by a sexual selection hypothesis: Females use sense of humor (in males) as a hard-to-fake advertisement of intelligence and power…
“… A good sense of humor means a discriminating sense of humor…
“… Since humor is hard to fake, both in creating and in (the suppression of) appreciation, it is particularly valuable as a litmus test not just for intelligence but for enduring personality traits, hidden loyalties, and socially crucial attitudes and beliefs. A young man who cannot abstain from snickering when presented with a juvenile scatological remark wears his immaturity on his sleeve; people who cannot chuckle at satire when it is deftly on target may betray their political loyalties, just as someone who casually makes a racist quip betrays a cast of mind that might otherwise be concealed.”

- location 215, Kindle edition

Wow. That’s a lot of very revealing insights into the power and complexity of humor. Considering the benefits of being a comic genius is great and easy, imagining ourselves laughing at a fart joke in front of our boss is pretty terrible and yet also easy – but taking into account that we might be contributing to the spread of an evolutionary information virus is a bit too much too handle. I for one don’t have the capacity to factor a conspiracy theory into whether or not I tell a joke, but the point here is that there is much we don’t understand about humor and that there are obvious benefits and drawbacks to humor so it might be a good idea to be considerate before we blurt out anything that comes to mind. The key here, in my opinion, is to reduce the volume of humorous vocalizations while highlighting the quality. Fortunately, “Inside Jokes” has provided precisely the insight I’ve been looking for:

“We think we have identified the core mechanism for which humor indirectly emerges. It is part of our genetic endowment, a design feature that evolved to solve a computational problem faced by our brains that has yet not heretofore been identified. In short, we have Chevrolet brains running Maserati software, and this strain on our cerebral resources led to the evolution of a brilliant stopgap, a very specific error-elimination capacity that harnessed preexisting ‘emotional’ reward mechanisms and put them to new uses. Using terms that we will explain in due course, here is our theory in a nutshell:

“Our brains are engaged in a full time in real-time (risky) heuristic search, generating presumptions about what will be experienced next in every domain. This time-pressured, unsupervised generation process has necessarily lenient standards and introduces content – not all of which can be properly checked for truth – into our mental spaces. If left unexamined, the inevitable errors in these vestibules of consciousness would ultimately continue on to contaminate our world knowledge store. So there has to be a policy of double-checking these candidate beliefs and surmisings, and the discovery and resolution of these at breakneck speeds is maintained by a powerful reward system – the feeling of humor; mirth – that must support this activity in competition with all the other things you could be thinking about.”

- location 230, Kindle edition

Wow again. That’s genius! Just to summarize how I understand this passage, we have these brilliant minds that operate at a level beyond the physical brain’s capacity – yet the mind developed this really powerful mechanism to explore the realm of the future unknown. When our mind is presented with some event which inevitably contains some ambiguous unknowns, our mind snaps into action in an attempt to anticipate what comes next. This happens when we’re talking with someone in conversation but it also probably happened when early hominids were hunting Mammoths as well. I’m sure it helped our chances of survival. The only problem with sitting around thinking about ‘what-ifs’ is that it probably gets boring and tedious and it probably wouldn’t happen fast enough for critical situations. So our mind exapted (or repurposed) an existing emotional response mechanism to create a hilariously enjoyable incentive to consider as many future possibilities for a situation as possible. Good ideas and correct judgments, especially in time-sensitive situations, are often a numbers game so coming up with a high volume of plausible scenarios leads to a greater chance of determining the proper assessment. Chuckling about a ridiculous idea is a great way to realize that the answer lay elsewhere and that even if the next idea fails at least it’s going to be funny – so give it a shot. Maybe these slides will help illustrate the point:

Not that software and hardware are the most accurate analogies, but you get the idea. The brain has created a nifty way for our mind to consider how it should grow before it does so.Consider that if our hardware perfectly matched our software we may not have developed a method for learning to take place.An event with ambiguities is presented to the mindThese ambiguities trigger a rapid response in our mind to consider as many possible subsequent events as it can.Humor may have evolved as a delightful reward for the mind's heuristic exploration of all possibilities - no matter how ridiculous.After recognizing the errors (which may or may not be funny) they are discarded, and only the plausible is considered further.Can we train the overactive mind to be at peace with the fleeting nature of these hysterically alternate possibilities? (i.e. can I stop telling every bad joke that comes to mind?)

What we should like to be able to do, because humor is such a complex cognitive function with the potential to serve and deceive equally, is not to stop telling jokes. Rather, we should highlight this heuristic search mechanism’s ability to produce errors and insights – thereby drawing others into our internal creative processes and demonstrating that this will produce both types which is a net positive. The interesting thing, which I’m going to hypothesize now, is these insights can be leveraged as the existing behavior by which we might pair the errors.


We sit in a room alongside classmates or co-workers. A person is addressing the group, and we are listening. As we listen, we are prompted to or autonomously submit questions and commentary into the room. This person continues, and soon they say something that stimulates a response deep within us. There is something ambiguous and uncanny about what they’ve said and our mind finds itself at a fork in the road of our understanding. Which path is correct, we do not know for sure, but as our mind considers the path to the left (let’s call it fork A) we think “Hmmm, maybe.”, and to the right (let’s call it fork B) we think “No way! They can’t be serious. That’s ridiculous.”
Some of us will listen quietly as we anticipate the lifting fog of ambiguity, others might ask about fork A, and others, despite its ridiculousness will point out their unease with the glaring incongruity of fork B. In the latter case, this point may come in the form of a joke and in certain situations it could be funny while in others it could be terrible.
What I’d like to suggest as a corrective course for those who cannot possibly ignore the ridiculousness of fork B is this: before jumping head first into the joke, highlight our heuristic search mechanism’s powerful capabilities by offering a potential insight first, followed by the error. In other words, instead of:

“Holy crap! That can’t be true because it’s so ridiculous!” (fork B), we could try:

“You’re either talking about fork A, OR you are suggesting fork B which is ridiculous.”

This might ensure a quality standard to the commentary, such that if we can’t even think of an A, or if A is not worth mentioning and it is very obviously B despite its incongruity then we should just keep it to ourselves. Another way to write this, in a programmatic logic gate of-sorts:

if (A && !B)
    return 'ah ha'

if (B && !A)
    return 'keep quiet'

if (A & B)
    return 'laugh'

B &! A


This is a tough one to do in a live situation. For me at least. More often than not I find myself in a (B & !A) situation and before I’ve even considered thinking of an A I’ve already blurted out B. However, I want to give it a shot. Starting in my next class on Wednesday I’d like to begin structuring any joke I might tell in the following format:

“What you’ve just said makes me believe either A or B is true.”

Hopefully this structure won’t be so dry that a legitimate funny joke isn’t killed by a robotic delivery, and hopefully B continues to get laughs. Likewise, I hope that A will not only continue to add value to situations but when used as a prerequisite of B it will also be enough of a time and effort barrier to eliminate a bad B situation. I’d like to log these situations by recording:

Subjective assessment of the quality of A (1-5):
Subjective assessment of the quality of B (1-5):

I think it only really makes sense to log data for a span of time – I couldn’t possibly hope to do this forever – but the idea would be that after recording the behavior and observing any potential benefits I would ramp the act of pairing the error to the insight as a best practice from here on out. Here’s what this might look like on the Fogg Behavior Grid, with four and five being applicable to the structure of response but not necessarily the logging of data:

What I’d also like to start on Wednesday morning is a daily exercise designed to flex this heuristic search mechanism. Because the mechanism operates on ambiguities one of the best triggers for instantiation is a question. I’d like to open up the New York Times website and choose one headline that interests me and generate a single question that the headline raises. After choosing the headline and generating the question, I will challenge myself to generate three plausible answers to the question and also record them. The first response should be a positive response, the second negative, and the third should be entirely ridiculous. The hope is that this exercise should facilitate my ability to do this in a live situation and give more fodder for improving the system. Here’s what this exercise might look like on the behavior grid:

Morning exercise

Here’s a crack at what this whole system looks like in cybernetic model:

Ambigularious Heuristic Search cybernetic model

2011.12.01 UPDATE

The bad news is that I’m finding it nearly impossible to document instances of humerous situations in the wild. I’ve had two classes, one yesterday and one this afternoon, and in neither case have I remembered to pick up my pen and write something down. It could also be that I haven’t had any particularly funny thoughts or been presented with ambiguous enough situations such that I feel compelled to record them.

The good news is that it’s been two straight days of trying out the Ambigularious Heuristic Search morning exercise and I’m happy (am I?) to document these exercises here. I have to say that neither of the headlines contained humorous content nor were any of my reactions remotely funny. Far from it. They’re actually pretty awkward, embarrassing and not intended to offend, I assure you. But I had some further thoughts about the value of the exercise. If you can imagine that running and intensely exercising your cardiovascular system in the morning will inevitably make your heart stronger and able to pump blood with less effort during the rest of your days activities. Walking up those stairs to ITP is a lot easier if I’ve been running consistently. Likewise, if you imagine that being in a classroom for 2+ straight hours of intense concentration is equivalent to climbing stairs in a daily routine, shouldn’t the morning exercise make our heuristic search mechanism more limber and able to snap into action to deliver errors coupled with insights much more easily? Maybe my mind is already performing this task with greater ease after only two days of exercise. Maybe I really am clearing the bad joke cobwebs from my brain before I even enter a public situation. Wishful thing, for sure. I obviously need to quantify and record this before I can even begin to be “sure.”

Anyways, here’s Wednesday morning’s exercise:

Wednesday morning

and Thursday morning’s:

Thursday morning


I’ve also been thinking about the way I want to present this method and madness in video format. In previous iterations I had been toying with the idea that I would put a ridiculous helmet over my head that would stop time and there would be an interface that would run feedback models on how the various parties in my company might react to an outburst, thereby giving me time to consider whether or not I should go ahead with the joke or not. While I like this idea precisely because it is ridiculous, I don’t think it’s exciting or interesting as leveraging the ways in which our minds are at work (or theories as to the ways).

I really am interested in the power of this heuristic search mechanism, and the idea (despite what I’ve stated above to the contrary) that information viruses are hijacking our communication highways in an effort to infect others. It’s brilliant imagery for a goofy short to communicate the idea and the mechanism. I can imagine a future world where portions of the populace have been infected by a zombie virus and humor is the primary detection method for sussing who has the bug and who doesn’t. The bug, or course, causes symptoms such as “laughing at juvenile scatological humor.” Laughing at juvenile scatological humor is both a symptom and the infectious viral vector, but only those that have previously laughed at such humor are contagious. Those who have been tested to not laugh at such humor are authorized screening personnel and can make such remarks without infecting others. Our hero is a Bruce Willis type, a real salt-of-the-earth dude, probably a cab driver / private investigator and he thinks he may have been infected is trying to evade the authorities long enough so that he can [insert heroic task here, e.g. save the world] and his only effective weapon is a well-trained ambigularious heuristic search mechanism.


Hero wakes up.
Hero makes breakfast.
Hero watches news.
Hero watches TV news talk about on-going infectious zombie disease, symptoms, causes, how to prepare, etc. once infected with the disease, one cannot avoid acknowledging bad humor. It is something that the world is trying to figure out how to stop. It is dividing the world.
Hero turns TV off.
Hero goes to work.
Hero is screened by security for the disease (a very suggestive innuendo is read).
Hero shakes head in disapproval. Hero is fine.
Hero works at quarantine for patients.
Hero feels bad for them.
*[Hero gets to know infected patient to the point where they become a significant other.]

On the way home from work Hero is exposed.
Hero chuckles.
Hero panics and rushes home, not sure if they have been infected.
Hero searches for [insert terrible humor] videos on YouTube.
Hero laughs at them.
Hero panics.
Hero sweats, and rushes to the bathroom and vomits.

Hero researches locations to escape the city.
They are guarded by security checkpoints.
Hero realizes they have to pass the test, but because they are infected they have to acknowledge the humor somehow.
Hero researches heuristic search mechanism and decides this is their best chance.
Hero practices technique - terribly at first, yet progressively better.
*[Hero decides they have to go back to quarantine to get significant other and save them.]

*[Hero goes about retrieving significant other]

Hero approaches check point slowly.
Hero arrives and is given the test.
It is tense.
They pass.
They are free of this world!


* This might be overkill?


This one might follow a more abstract or avant garde approach. One centered on the logic gates of the humor modeled above.

Three different people using three different heuristic search mechanisms which return three different results after being exposed to some ambiguity:

1). Returns A (insight)
2). Returns B (error)
3). Returns A followed by B

I’d like to highlight the downsides of 1). (dullness, meekness, overly ambitious, etc.) and 2). (immaturity, easily manipulated, obnoxious, etc.) against the relative balance returned by 3). which returns conflicting interoperable results which are therefore more likely to escape judgement. I can imagine the setting to be more sterile and laboratory-ish.

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A.
Audience is intrigued!

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A.
Audience is respectful.

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A.
Audience is bored & yawning!

Hero hears virus.
Hero is infected.

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks B.
Audience is laughing!

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks B.
Audience is considering it.

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks B.
Audience is rolling their eyes!

Hero concentrates.
Heuristic Search is spinning.
Heuristic Search starts showing hits on both A and B.

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A followed by B.
Audience responds positively!

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A followed by B.
Audience is elated!

Hero hears ambiguity.
Hero speaks A followed by B.
Audience is __MEGA__ elated!


Update: Quipment