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. Breaking the mnemonic medium out of its box

    Demo/talk of a new floating design

  2. Prospects for consumer silent speech interfaces

    Systems for dictation without audible sound

  3. The joyful surprises of user observation

    Notes from testing a new mnemonic medium

  4. A peritextual mnemonic medium

    Demo/talk of a redesign around reader control

  5. Implicit practice: a sight reading parable

    One way implicit practice fails in knowledge work

  6. Exponentials and forgetting in Quantum Country

    Patterns in preliminary data

  7. Lessons from 2021

    Reflections on creative work, the field, crowdfunding

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

    Lenses for progress in interface invention

  9. Quantum Country’s suspiciously flat forgetting curves

    Surprises in analysis of conceptual memory

  10. Doing-centric explanatory mediums

    Board game instruction manuals… and Figma

  11. Architectures for a more flexible mnemonic medium

    Interface approaches for reader control

  12. Revamping the mnemonic medium for reader control

    Expanding beyond primers' assumptions

  13. Armories for tool-maker/-user collaborations

    Notes on bridging skills and ideas

  14. Finding research–context fit

    A challenge for tool-builders

  15. Crowdfunded research vs. the NSF CAREER grant

    Open-sourcing Orbit; technical collaborations

  16. Too easy to be effortless

    Surprising distributions in Quantum Country

  17. Ratcheting progress in tools for thought

    How to accrete insight as a field?

  18. In search of better questions

    From memory systems to meaning

  19. Reflections on 2020 as an independent researcher

    Funding, culture, limitations, process

  20. Liquid olives and iPhones

    Problem-solving and -finding; The Uncertainty Mindset

  21. Working with authors: entangled skills

    Text-writing needs prompt-writing needs text-writing

  22. The carrying capacity of a regular memory practice

    Tensions with deliberate practice and flow

  23. The galaxy brain problem; speed-running UIs

    Challenges in explaining new mediums

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

    … and fuzzy inboxes

  25. Thoughts on crowdfunding tools for thought

    Remarks on a milestone in crowdfunding

  26. A nascent art direction for Orbit

    Escaping educational aesthetics

  27. Demonstrating a personal mnemonic medium

    Integrating spaced repetition into prose notes

  28. 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