Goodbye Pittsburgh, Hello San Francisco, For Now

I think this is mostly a post for my future self. I have a pretty good record of a lot of my life on my blog, but the last year or so has been pretty blank. Some of that is busy-ness, some of it is really not feeling like recording anything. I don’t have a hard life, by any measure, but recently it’s been harder than it has been in the past.

Looking Forward: man! I’m in San Francisco! This is neat. I’m starting my internship at HP Labs next week. We’re going to try to do something with smartphone overuse, to help people who think they use their phones too much to use them less. Tati’s coming out for an internship too, but I don’t want to speak for her too much; I’m just excited that she’ll be here. This summer’s shaping up to be pretty great.

San Francisco is a fun place. Big city! Bikes and coffee! Uh, exciting events that happen every so often! Point is, you can have the best things here, and you can meet other people who are also interested in having the best things. (it may be capitalist heaven, which is weird, but better than being a hell, I suppose.) And it turns out I know a lot of people around here already, from one thing or another.

Work-wise, I’m excited about work back at CMU too. Getting more into geography in many forms, trying to figure out what exactly we’re going to do first, but moving right along. My advisor Jason is cool (would I write if he wasn’t? regardless, it’s true) and we both see a lot of potential in using social media data (tweets etc) to understand our cities better. Somehow.

Looking Backward: I’ve heard some people say the first year of a PhD is the hardest, and I’ve heard some people say the second year is the hardest, and I’ve heard some people say doing a thesis is the hardest, and they’re all correct. At least, the first year and the second year are both definitely the hardest.

The hardest part is not knowing what I’m doing, and feeling like I’m not making progress. I *am* making progress, and I guess you could say I had my first paper acceptance this semester. It was a workshop, so that’s not huge, but I guess it was a pretty competitive workshop actually, so it’s something.

But anyway, other thing I did this semester #1: I built a bike. Other thing I did this semester #2: I learned a lot about design fiction. (a newish field blurring the lines between design and art, if you ask me. did you see the movie Her? that’s kind of a good example of it: imagine the future, where we have some particular technology, but instead of focusing on the technology, focus on how it affects our lives.) I finished up the semester with a really fun project where I tried to make friends with some corporations on Twitter. Modern corporations are people, right, so I wanted to see what their personalities are like.

I’ll be in Pittsburgh for at least three or four more years. Which is great, because I love it there. I feel like I have the best of all worlds: great close friends, and a wide social network too. Just wonderful folks. And I’ve got Tati, and a great family, and you know, I’m feeling more optimistic than I have in a long time. So that’s something too.

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