Hi! I’m a software engineer, designer, and researcher. I work on technologies that expand what people can think and do.

Hi! I’m a software engineer, designer, and researcher. I work on technologies that expand what people can think and do.

My methods meander between academia and Silicon Valley: I explore theories by expressing them in real-world systems, which produce insights I use to improve the theories, which I use in turn to improve the systems, and so on.

Prior to my current work, I helped build iOS at Apple and led R&D at Khan Academy.

I’m now an independent researcher, supported by a crowdfunded grant from my Patreon community. If you find my work interesting, you can become a member to get patron-only "letters from the lab" and early access to new work.

Letters from
the lab

Letters from the lab

Informal essays and project updates. Most are initially written for my patrons, but a subset are later made available to the public.

Less formal essays (some patron-only)

  1. Ethics of AI-based invention: a personal inquiry

    Grappling with my moral obligations as a designer

  2. Memory systems and problem-solving practice

    Difficulties in knowledge transfer

  3. Becoming a Wizard-of-Oz learning assistant

    Field work experiments in adult learning

  4. Three years of crowdfunded research

    Reflections on my membership program

  5. Towards impact through intimacy

    Tentative plans for my 2023 research

  6. Cultivating depth and stillness in research

    Notes on whatʼs worked for me

  7. Lessons from summer 2022 prototype

    Synthesis on new mnemonic medium

  8. Breaking the mnemonic medium out of its box

    Demo/talk of a new floating design

  9. Prospects for consumer silent speech interfaces

    Systems for dictation without audible sound

  10. The joyful surprises of user observation

    Notes from testing a new mnemonic medium

  11. A peritextual mnemonic medium

    Demo/talk of a redesign around reader control

  12. Implicit practice: a sight reading parable

    One way implicit practice fails in knowledge work

  13. Exponentials and forgetting in Quantum Country

    Patterns in preliminary data

  14. Lessons from 2021

    Reflections on creative work, the field, crowdfunding

  15. Tools for thought: science, design, art, craftsmanship?

    Lenses for progress in interface invention

  16. Quantum Country’s suspiciously flat forgetting curves

    Surprises in analysis of conceptual memory

  17. Doing-centric explanatory mediums

    Board game instruction manuals… and Figma

  18. Architectures for a more flexible mnemonic medium

    Interface approaches for reader control

  19. Revamping the mnemonic medium for reader control

    Expanding beyond primers' assumptions

  20. Armories for tool-maker/-user collaborations

    Notes on bridging skills and ideas

  21. Finding research–context fit

    A challenge for tool-builders

  22. Crowdfunded research vs. the NSF CAREER grant

    Open-sourcing Orbit; technical collaborations

  23. Too easy to be effortless

    Surprising distributions in Quantum Country

  24. Ratcheting progress in tools for thought

    How to accrete insight as a field?

  25. In search of better questions

    From memory systems to meaning

  26. Reflections on 2020 as an independent researcher

    Funding, culture, limitations, process

  27. Liquid olives and iPhones

    Problem-solving and -finding; The Uncertainty Mindset

  28. Working with authors: entangled skills

    Text-writing needs prompt-writing needs text-writing

  29. The carrying capacity of a regular memory practice

    Tensions with deliberate practice and flow

  30. The galaxy brain problem; speed-running UIs

    Challenges in explaining new mediums

  31. “Skip”: exponential-backoff deferral mechanisms…

    … and fuzzy inboxes

  32. Thoughts on crowdfunding tools for thought

    Remarks on a milestone in crowdfunding

  33. A nascent art direction for Orbit

    Escaping educational aesthetics

  34. Demonstrating a personal mnemonic medium

    Integrating spaced repetition into prose notes

  35. Bringing ideas into your Orbit

    Extending the desktop for programmable attention


    Projects: experimental ed-tech

    Work from my time at Khan Academy, where my team worked with teachers to invent novel interactive learning environments.

    Creations from my R&D work at Khan Academy.

    1. Building complex skills online

      Beyond right and wrong: scalable open-ended learning activities

    2. Numbers at play

      Designing digital manipu­latives to reveal numbers’ hidden properties

    3. Playful worlds of creative math

      Reframing early numeracy around adventure, wonder, and creativity