Consolidation and Relocation: Leaving London for San Francisco
A couple of months ago I withdrew from my doctorate programme at UCL and shortly afterwards I handed in my notice at work. That could be interpreted as quite a miserable state of affairs, but it's far from it!
I'm going to San Francisco to work with Stamen Design, who I've admired for some time (especially for their cabspotting and digg labs projects). Thanks to them (and our lawyer) I now have a visa and I leave London next week. I've booked a one-way flight, which feels strange but somehow liberating at the same time.
More thoughts on this after the jump.
Despite taking nearly three months since we first started talking, it still feels like everything has happened really quickly. Practically everyone who's seen me in that time knows all about it, but I didn't want to write about it here until I had the visa in my hands.
When I started this blog in August 2004, there were three threads to my life. I called them the three me's:
- I was a programmer for YRM, a London architecture firm, writing a pedestrian simulation tool, analysing airline schedules and maintaining small parts of their website and intranet.
- I was an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) student at UCL, sponsored by my employers. I'd finished my taught Masters programme and begun my research in earnest. I was also doing a small amount of teaching, and blogging at Computing for Emergent Architecture.
- I was an active participant in the online Processing community and the OpenStreetMap project, and an attendee at events like dorkbot London and conferences such as PLAN, Futuresonic, Reboot and Euro Foo.
Those three me's satisfied my interests and aspirations to a certain extent, but they were somewhat mismatched. The energy I was putting into conferences wasn't benefiting my doctorate as academic conferences might have, and the doctoral research wasn't as complementary to my day to day activities at work as I had hoped it would be. Following my summer break in the U.S. I decided that my interests needed some consolidation.
It makes sense to break away from London at this point. When I arrived here over four years ago I only planned to stay for six weeks. The move from Leeds to London felt massive and confusing, and even a year later I didn't really know what to do with myself. Since then I've met an awful lot of amazing and influential people, partly thanks to this blog, and it's safe to say my horizons are much broader and I'm much more confident about what makes me tick.
Buried somewhere in the mixture of architecture, design, computer science, artificial intelligence, visualisation and mapping work I've been doing, there's a coherent story being told and a consistent approach and vision. I like to think that the work I've done which makes me most proud (airport and robot simulators, interactive tube maps, gps visualisation etc.) will serve as an effective starting point leading to bigger and brighter things at Stamen. If you know my work and theirs I think it's clear there's a common ground to work from.
Hopefully somewhere in the move and the new job I'll have time to breathe and write about my experiences here. I hope that no matter which of the three me's brought you to this blog, you'll stay with the new me as I work things out in the coming months. It's going to be exciting - you should definitely drop by and find out what's happening.