When I was 12 years old, my father brought a personal computer home. My father was always interested in new technology. We were the first famliy I knew with cable TV, we had an Atari, got a video camera when they hit the market, etc. The first time I ever saw a car phone was when he came home with one installed and we even had a laserdisc player. He also made an early decision to bring tech to his trucking business, which was why we suddenly had a computer running Windows 3.1 in our home.
My parents were always pretty liberal with how I spent my time as long as I wasn’t breaking anything and I was fascinated by this computer. The computer came with a bunch of free software, so I spent a of time installing all the apps one-by-one and seeing how they worked. I eventually broke something and not wanting my parents to get mad or take it away, I read through all of the manuals (pre-Internet) until it was fixed, let out a huge sigh and told myself I would never do that again.
Of course I eventually broke it again, but I also learned at a young age that discovery often comes through failure.
We didn’t have a programming club at my high school and with my personal experience I felt unchallenged by the computer classes offered. But there was a TV production class. I took that class all four years of high school and learned so much about working and collaborating with other people and how to take an idea and make it into a reality.
I attribute a lot of our success in that class to the freedom our teacher brought to the program. He had no training in TV production, he just learned the same book he taught, but by giving us space to explore ideas we thrived as a group. I loved it so much I went to film school.
Unsuprisingly, my first job in tech was with iFilm.com, an online video streaming site for short films, movie trailers, music videos and other content. I was hired to expand an internal pay-per-click network they started to bring extra traffic to the site when ad inventory was higher than traffic could support. My manager found me at a production company that used to be in the same building and for some reason thought I could do this work.
He was right, though. While the traffic for the site grew, I expanded the network to provide as much as 500,000 visitors in a single day for a penny per click. While there, I also contributed to their original content, developed a system to distribute content to early mobile video providers and had a hand in making an appearance by Jon Stewart on CNN’s Hardball go viral, leading to the cancellation of the show. I believe it was one of the first times something viral on the internet had an impact in the “real” world and showed networks their content could have a second life online. The video broke all previous records for views and viral content became more prominent on the site. The increased traffic and exposure got the site purchased by Viacom in 2007 and it eventually folded it into Spike.com, the companion site to their SpikeTV cable channel.
In 2009, I found myself unemployed after being laid off from a “vintage” content start-up and struggling to find work. While I felt I accomplished a lot up until then, I didn’t have a defined set of skills I was just able to make things happen if someone gave me the chance and freedom to do so. Struggling to sell myself, I decided to start a blog since I had content experience and needed something to fill my days when not submitting applications.
I started a blog called Brain Droppings in 2008 and it didn’t really go anywhere, but I built it in Wordpress and found I really liked building the site much more than writing content for it. So I gave up the blog and started building Wordpress sites for small companies.
From there I have been the tech lead for a boutique agency, a senior front-end developer for an eSports startup and a senior full-stack developer for a boutique consultancy. Along the way I’ve worked for myself in a freelance capacity and taken time to learn new languages and technologies.