I’m a writer, a musician, an engineer, and a builder. But above all, I’m a human who’s hopelessly focused on presence.
For me, writing and speaking go hand in hand, and I did both for a living in the 1990’s. In 2002, I left the world of writing and speaking to building products for a living. Nowadays, I write either to get clarity on my own thoughts and/or to help drive clarity with others I work with.
I do my best writing in a text editor, and switched over from emacs to VS Code about 5 years ago.
I’ve been playing music since the age of 10. For most of my musical life, the bass has been my primary instrument. It still is where the bulk of my muscle memory and musical instincts are, but I’ve been focusing on becoming proficient at Guitar Craft, which is a particular way of approaching music, work, and collaboration.
I started as a math and music person who got enamored with technology and programming. I wrote and published my first “real” program in 1989 - it was a Mac Desk Accessory that translated MIDI input to simulate strumming a guitar in order to make the acoustic guitar sample on my newly acquired EMU Proteus sound decent.
I’ve spent most of my technological life living at the intersection of software and hardware. I was able to find the sweet spot when I joined the Xbox team and have been enamored with building the software that powers consumer devices. Like a lot of engineers, I like to create things that help other people create things.
My professional work is building products with other people. Most of my career was either as a co-founder or individual contributor - I was drafted into management in 2011 and am happy working in either configuration.
I joined Microsoft in 2002 and worked on .NET Framework, Visual Studio, Xbox, Windows, HoloLens, and Azure Spatial Anchors, Azure Remote Rendering. I left Microsoft in 2021 right after the Microsoft Mesh launch to join Meta Reality Labs. I now work on Augmented Reality products and tech (primarily Spark and our AR Glasses (Project Nazare)).
Yes, I work in AR/VR/MR/XR and the metaverse, but that’s really a means to an end.
Presence was a thing before the metaverse was conceived - even before the penultimate Led Zeppelin album was recorded.
Metaphysical horse-shit alert.
Here are four largely unrelated events that collectively have formed how I think about presence.
In 2016, my mind was blown by a Pathwise course taught by Todd Hollow-Bist and Chad Hattrup in 2016. The Suspension of Attention session really opened my eyes to ways in which we are or are not aware of our existence at any given moment.
In 2018, I joined the HoloLens team and helped start our “People, Places, and Things” services that eventually became Microsoft Mesh (which when I left in 2021 was Microsoft’s primary “metaverse” offering). Our vision for Mesh came down to one idea, which was presence. In our case, it was to provide the ability for people to be present with one another across space (and eventually time).
In 2021, I had my first Guitar Craft experience in Glen Cove, NY. I thought it was going to be a week of learning calesthenics and repertoire on an instrument I barely play in a foreign tuning. Instead, we focus mainly on being present with ourselves, one another, and with the music that is in the room.
In 2022, I moved from the XR team to the AR team and the primacy of building AR Glasses became obvious to me. Why? Because despite our industry’s collective aim to solve the remote presence problem, the promise of AR Glasses to improve the local presence problem have so eroded so much is pretty inspiring. Given the amount of work in front of us, I can believe is the last big problem I’ll work on in my professional life.
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