Joe builds hardware prototypes, writes firmware and node apps as a Creative Technologist at Barkley. Most of his career has involved leading teams of web and mobile developers on projects using NodeJS and Ruby on Rails among others.
Last time we talked you were madly in love with NodeJS. Still the case?
Most definitely. Node isn’t a great solution for all projects, but it’s a good tool which helps me solve the problems I face each day. The real time web, small scale applications, and a fast development workflow are critical components to my work, they’re also some of Node’s greatest strengths.
What do you like most about your current role?
Free reign to fail. Working in the lab at Barkley is all about learning from failures via experimentation and rapid prototyping. Not everything we make works at first, and that’s okay.
I’m also loving the dynamics of the Moonshot team. We’re able to give each other critical feedback without hurting feelings. It’s a great way to improve our prototypes and projects.
How do you see what you’re doing today changing advertising long term?
Hardware development is rapidly evolving and is still very new to the advertising world. It reminds me of the personal computing revolution: prices are falling, knowledge is growing, and the devices I’m working with are quickly becoming a part of everyday life.
I believe the biggest impact in the near future will be far more relevant advertising. Invisible devices which monitor user behavior are already being implemented and I think they’ll have a great benefit to the consumer. Gone are the days of spray ads where marketers are unknowingly selling Geritol to 18 year olds.
Are you more creative within specific constraints or unstructured play?
I could go either way. When I really feel like I need to get a project done I like to put up a few guardrails. Other times our team just makes something out of nothing. Both are great, striking a balance can be challenging.
What’s your current obsession?
The Spark Core – An ultra small, WiFi connected, Arduino like micro controller. It’s easy to program and has a small enough footprint to embed in clothing.
What’s your most recent epiphany?
We recently held our first ever “Internet of Wild Things” class at Barkley, the students of which had no prior experience with programming or electronics. I was amazed at how easily non technical people were able to put together hardware prototypes which talked to the internet.
My favorite project from the class was a bottle of sunscreen which text messaged the user 2 hours from application reminding them it’s time to reapply. This project wasn’t made by a professional developer or electronics wizard, it was created by a Group Account Leader who had just learned the basics of electronics.