Frequently Asked Questions

This section is mostly a place to store one referenced FAQ, and otherwise, just for my own amusement. I am not so important need to manage my information requests with a FAQ. Yet ;)

Academic Questions

Professional Questions

Personal Inquiries

Website Things


What are you doing to do with a PhD?

I want to research, teach, and write, and in my job, I want to feel autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I expect to find this combination in academia, in being a professor, but if industry is offering all of the above, I'm sure there's a place for me there, as well.

What is Information Studies?

Information studies is an interdisciplinary field that is interested in the relationships between people, technology, and information. You can study many things in an iSchool, including archives, human-computer interaction, information retreival algorithms, data visualization, design processes, and citizen science. I am most interested in values in design and organizational creativity and collaboration.


What is your greatest strength?

I can retrieve items from most shelves meant for regular use, and some that are not. I can tell you how dirty the top of your fridge is and how your bald spot is doing, but I have the discretion to keep that information between the two of us.

More seriously, I think my most valuable professional skill is an analytical approach to problem-solving. Combined with the willingness to tactfully challenge ideas whose sources or support are underevaluated, my clients, friends, and even former employers continue to seek my opinion. (Fortunately for everyone) I am not afraid to admit that I don't know an answer or that I am inexpert in a subject :)

What is your greatest weakness?

Gosh! Where to start! I am so easily distracted on the internet that I have to set up URL blocks, I am lazy about cleaning my car, I am a shameless Apple partisan...

I can get distracted from the important by the urgent. To address this issue, I've implemented a personal productivity system inspired by David Allen's "Getting Things Done," in Workflowy, both of which I highly recommend if you struggle with a similar confusion.

Both of the above links are referral links. The first is an Amazon Smile link to the book cited, and the other is a referral link that doubles the capacity of your new account and gives me a little extra space, too. If you'd prefer not to use those links, no problem: just give "Getting things done" or "workflowy" a google.


What do you do outside of work?

I paint, both as a hobbyist and on commission. I swing dance: east coast and Lindy Hop mostly. I enjoy craft beer.

I read as much as I can manage to. As of this writing, I just finished A Primates Memoir and started The Soul of the New Machine. I'm working my way through The Better Angels of Our Nature and Physics for Future Presidents. (It's not that I don't read fiction, it's that I'm on the lookout for something new. Email me ( if you have a recommendation!)

I also listen to a lot of podcasts, and I really enjoy trading recommendations. I listen to Documentary radio (i.e. 99% invisible, RadioLab, This American Life, Serial), Storytelling (i.e. the Moth, Snap Judgement, Strangers), Language podcasts (A Way With Words and Lexicon Valley) commentary (i.e. Pop Culture Happy Hour, the Gist, Slate's Culture Gabfest), Economics podcasts (Planet Money and Freakonomics), Academic podcasts (TED radio hour and PhD in Progress), and Fiction (Selected Shorts and Welcome to Nightvale.) I run out of podcasts every week, so I am always interested in recommendations that are available on Stitcher!

Are you on __?

Probably :(. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Untappd.


What's with the site's banner image?

The banner image is an artifact from an art project. I went to an artists' retreat, at which I elected to try something entirely new: at the time, all of my work was 2D, monochromatic, and representational. At the retreat, I decided to create an abstract sculpture in color. The sticking point was that I had no inspiration or commission, just that formal plan.

To address this problem, I decided to start with a pen and paper. I had been playing around with ideas about relationships between diverse things, and had been thinking about happiness, so started with a mind map. It turned out to be helpful, so I kept the map near by as I worked on the project. Unintentionally, and to my delight, the map gathered little traces of the process of the project, until by the end, I liked it as well as the sculpture. I now display the map alongside the sculpture for my own enjoyment (although when I display it in public, I don't-- too much disclosure, I think.)

The TL;DR of the whole thing is that it's a planning document from a real-life creative process that turned out to be visually lovely and intellectually interesting, at least to me, and relevant to my work in creativity support tools.

What does your Amazon Smile link donate money to?

Amazon Smile donates .5% of most purchases to a charity of your choice-- why not? I have Smile set to support Traveling Stories. Traveling Stories is a non-profit literacy organization focused on outsmarting poverty and fostering a love of reading in kids without access to books. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, TS is run by the generous, cheerful, an abundantly skilled Emily Moberly, with whom I graduated from High School lo these redacted years ago.

Traveling Stories supports youth literacy in poor and developing countries by donating libraries to schools, orphanages, and other institutions including South Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and more. They support literacy in San Diego and other American cities with Story Tents for kids, public story time, and literacy awareness events. There are lots of ways you can help Traveling Stories support literacy and a love of reading, but my favorite is their shirt for adults which funds literacy programs for kids.

Who built this website?

I used this website to teach myself HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap. It's built using Bootstrap 3.2.0 and the bootswatch "Cosmo." I'd bet you could guess the order in which I made the pages of this website by viewing source and watching my incompetence melt away ;)