Who I am

I am the partner of Gayna Williams and the father of Eleanor and Isobel.

I was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up mostly in Granville, Ohio. My father was a mathematician and my mother a psychologist. I eventually earned degrees in both subjects. My first job was teaching tennis. After I left home, traveling, reading, and film were passions. I moved frequently between the Boston area and the U.S. west coast, and also worked in England, Denmark, Japan, Norway, and Texas.

I like resolving mysteries, solving problems that present themselves, and finding patterns. Ever since I could read, I have loved to write, both non-fiction and fiction. When I discovered computer programming as a teenager, storybook magic became real: I could have a thought and see it come to life, with consequences that sometimes were anticipated, and sometimes not.

The Curriculum Vitae tab above leads to highlights and an account of past activities.

What I'm working on

My principal research focus today is education. It’s exciting to see rote learning (slowly) giving way to critical thinking, project-based learning, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills. School infrastructure is being built out, teachers are tech-savvy, useful technology is being developed and its cost is dropping. As often seems to happen, the history of primary, secondary, and tertiary education over the past few hundred years suggests what might and might not be possible.

Previously I focused for several years on social media and collaboration tools. I have continually spent time inquiring into the history of human-computer interaction and thinking about its future.

and thinking about...

Where are we taking technology, and where is it taking us? On balance I’m optimistic. I can accomplish more now through the use of technology. Of course, new technologies have unintended consequences, and they surface at an unsettling pace. I engage with these issues, particularly in essays in CACM, IEEE Computer, and ACM Interactions that are accessible from my Publications list. I hope my efforts enable others to take the discussion, and action, to the next level.