Hiiii, I'm Ross.
...a boy who never really left Dennis' Place for Games. Y'all know Dennis'? It was the spot where I had bday parties as a kid and who cares about cake Mom we're in the middle of beating the game, ugghhhh. Team beat 'em ups for us 80s babes all day.
Native Chicagoan, kindled by Jordan and Pippen till we singularity. Kindled later in life by Hui Neng and open source contribs. Currently based in San Francisco. But I pretend to move to New York every 6 months or so.
What else in this not-so-laconic one-sheeter of a bildungsroman. Let's divide and conquer for you, with a heavier focus on my profesh life:
I make websites professionally for a living because I was seduced by the promise of hyperlinked documents I first navigated in Microsoft Encarta mebbe??
At this very mo' I'm seeking a new jobby job at a place to stretch my legs as a product engineer. More generally I'm pondering Jaron Lanier's reminder Google only matters because we screwed up Ted Nelson's two-way Xanadu. Or thinking about how worker owned coops might be better for democracy than blockchain.
So, yeah, web. My first job building web product was working for Science Exchange, which really set me on this career path for serious. This was around 2013 and I wasn't sure at all if I wanted to continue being paid to give computers instructions. I was even interviewing for product design gigs. But as fate would have it, I had the fortune to be picked up by a small startup called Science Exchange where I worked with a couple amazeballs folks who were soooo stoked about web dev they made all the boring and hard parts not boring and hard. I guess I loves me some ridiculous optimism and enthusiasm and obsession with building castles of air. I guess I never should have underestimated the reward of getting it to work. Science Exchange was def my come up in this trillicon zeitgest, and I got to realize complex UX on the popular RJCHM (rəjēCHəm) stack -- you know the one, ♦️️, JS, CSS, HTML, MySQL -- for info highway passengers getting real work done.But all your friends' parents thought you'd be an actor or artist or something?
Errm...I took the long way to get here. Perhaps because I'm from the last generation of patient people. Idk, fuck linear life paths.
But yeah, developer/programmer wasn't my first what I want to be when i grow up idea. When I was a 12 year-old kid sketching charcoal nudes at the Art Institute, I dreamed my future self a loose t-shirt wearing painter sitting around in European cafes in the 1920s. Shakespeare & Co. or what have you.
In summer, of course. The loosest of shirts.
(Quick shoutout to my brother for the way he's truly embodied my dream of perfect loose t-shirt adornment in the early 2000s.)
In some ways it's too bad it took me so long to fall all the way for internet work. I certainly stuck my neck out that way over the years. Like, early echoes from my childhood: sneaky delights at the DOS prompt, initializing programs and traversing directory trees. WordPerfect. Word up. And so many free hours of AOL to chat with the whole world when I was a tween. 22/f here to chat. First gender plays, too. (Like now when I sit in the dark and pretend to be Kate Libby with that red leather zipped up tight over her boobies, munging JSON and bussing messages around.)
And then I remember the mind explosion when I saw the ILOVEYOU worm corrupt a hard-drive in real-time during my internship with the InfoTechWarPeace project in college. Wooed so hard by hacker smooches. (And falling a bit, too, for the dashing deutsche curator Franziska Nori).
Then I touched down in the Yay Area in 2007, a year after Twitter launched and the SaaS bookmark service wars were really heating up. It was really nearly inevitable to jack in during those mythic times. Doors [were kinda] open, mayne, and everytime I was at some networking function it was like "what can you do [on the computer]" and I'd be like, "well I've built a couple websites??" The way their eyes would just light up...
And so here we are. After repeated flirts and intellectual fancies with the web, I'm like ~7 years into a professional career designing, developing, and debugging useful web things; really doing all ends. I love it, I/O bound and hanging ten on the info highway. It's an existence of exponentializing ahas and obsessions and wtfs as you go deeper and follow the rhizomatic spread into things that empower so many things; the IOT of things! The implicit return? Any given day I'm caring more than I ever thought I would about a complex interplay of protocols and practices of cloudgineering (you might even say a...muthafuckin Matrix):
git log --reverse --pretty=format:'%s (%an)', and recurse(...arguments).
Learning never stops in the software biz because the singularity must be hastened or something. Who knows exactly, but the reality is that under the choking ozone of Tesla fumes we rage forward with a nerdcore will/fantasy/hubris/delusional heroism to stretch human meaning to the limit by augmentation or AI. Gordon Moore is forcing things along hella fast and you gotta keep up. (Or was it Fred Moore?)
Many coders fold this learning back into code in the form of side projects; always the bricoleurs. Personally, I've found writing to be a satisfying outlet for working over the TILs. In many ways I write for me, and that's why some of my phrasing reads like e.e. cummings, or me after a couple pinots. But I do keep you in mind. Although I imagine you as someone who writes some code or helps build web products in some fashion. That summarily prefaced, here's a sample of my diary (with the whole rest of the lot here):
When I'm not coding I'm focusing on supporting alternatives to extractive capitalism and ending mass incarceration and criminalization through base building and community organizing for economic justice, helping fund movement for progressive social change, and investing in local businesses through loan vehicles like RSF Social Finance and the Northern California Community Loan Fund.
For ~10 years I've been some mix of consituent and organizer with Resource Generation, a young people community dedicated to redistribution of land, wealth, power, and racial justice. RG has been a crucial political home for me during my early adulthood, where I've developed leadership skills and analysis around class struggle and economic inequality -- and how to bring my full self into the movement as a class-privileged person. I'm very excited to be currently working with young folks in the web tech industry interested in social justice work and reconciling the power and privilege of the tech industry with vision(s) for a more just and equitable world (ask me more about it!). Think opposite of Sam Altman and co's terrible Tech Pledge to collaborate and assist with oppressive regime.
Since I'm soon aging out of RG, in September of 2017 I took a step into a new role as a grassroots funder by joining the cross-class leadership circle of the Criminal Justice Initiative. CJI is a grant-making body that funds orgs focused on ending mass criminalization and incarceration that are led by directly impacted folks and formerly incarcerated people. Definitely holler at me if you're interested in learning more about CJI!
See Regenerative Finance's values to better understand my orientation as an investor.
You know you loved Kung Fu Panda (1, 2, and 3) and dreamed of making your body do awesome things. You don't need to spend any money at Lululemon. Just come learn Kung Fu with me on Saturdays in San Francisco! I help teach a class for folks with any type of experience. Then we get lunch.
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