“The most exciting things happen at the interface between disciplines.”
Early in my career I found beauty and fascination in computing itself. I designed and built an operating system and a computer language complete with compiler and code generator. I was the founding director of a computer center for a major scientific institution. I was a geek before it was popular. As my career progressed I found ever increasing fascination in the integration of computing with other areas of human endeavor… particularly in areas where the application was new or novel. I computerized a waterpark; designed and built an early graphical user interface (GUI) for a database describing the configuration of pumps, tanks, manifolds, etc. for an oil company; and worked on the statistical analysis of oil deliveries and sales to distinguish between leaks, over/under deliveries, theft, and pump calibration errors. It was in the field of artificial intelligence, however, that my interdisciplinary flair was truly ignited. What can the computer tell us about the brain, the mind, the human ability to create and appreciate art… all questions that span disciplines ranging from philosophy to neuroscience. While I have no particular lasting accomplishments of distinction in that field, the study ignited my passion and fascination for employing the connections between disciplines to solve interesting (difficult, sloppy) problems… a fascination that lead me to the Web, a space where computing, marketing, graphic design, communication, journalism, PR and a host of other disciplines converge. To succeed, a Web site must, at a minimum, make appropriate use of technology to address a problem in a well researched market segment; employ a design and aesthetic that reflects that knowledge; and provide engaging and persuasive directed content. All that, and it must be designed to grow and adapt to external changes. The site must be supported by analytics to determine where it is effective and where it is not. It must be designed to place well on search engine results. It must be designed to support and be supported by social media campaigns. No single discipline could hope to create a successful Web presence in isolation. I feel I have found the ultimate multi-disciplinary laboratory/playground. I’m as happy as a pig in slop… I have a passion for what I study and do. In education, passion… as well as slop… is contagious.