About Me

Hi 🌊

I'm Cameron. I collect problem-solving and "how it's made" stories from different fields. Each new hammer teaches me to recognize and find wonder from new types of nail.

My current "invention principle (Private)" is to find and make what I call idea enzymes.

Why pursue this? As Anne Lamott describes in Bird by Bird, first drafts aren't that good. Useful ideas emerge through iteration and refinement. Some environments are better at providing both motivation for rewrites and quality feedback for improvement. I am sad when I think about the potential lost when ideas that could have flourished flounder because they were born to environments unsuited to them, like a fish in the desert.

Similarly to how biological enzymes enable chemical reactions, idea enzymes enable ideas by reducing the effort (cognitive, physical, social) for to find insights and apply them to the world. A shortlist of idea enzyme attributes:

  • highlight important parts and connections in noisy data
  • feedback loop approaches the "speed of thought"
  • toggle between open and focused search so as not to miss invisible gorillas (Private)
  • enable readers/creators to consider multiple views of their subject (no single one is correct)
  • ...others that I'll write more about over time.

I believe idea enzymes provides fledgling ideas with the nourishment needed to reach their full potential. These ideas can help us make progress on problems that currently seem unapproachable.

What I do

I'm a senior software engineer on Datadog's data visualization team. We build reusable components for exploring and monitoring the health of cloud infrastructure, and compose these pieces into interactive linked displays. I work with many types of data, including timeseries, distribution, graph topology, event, and code structure.

I contribute to open source to learn and support the ecosystem, primarily in Python and Javascript/Typescript.

What I've done

  • Wrote data pipelines, cleaned data, and built financial risk assessment tools at Enigma
  • Wrote web scrapers, cleaned data, and built dashboards at the Yale Data-Driven EnviroLab
  • Studied Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (EE/CS)

In my free time, I like to clean data build projects, build practices away from the screen (erging, sketching, poetry), and browse books with pictures. I occasionally try my hand at creative coding. Some results land in my Storybook or ObservableHQ.

I update this page occasionally, so some parts may be out of date. [Last updated January 2021].

Primary interests

You are what you repeat(edly think about) - every advertising agency

  1. Creating environments + tools for serendipity and exaptation (what is serendipidata?)
  2. Actionable data visualization (separating signal from the noise, right form, right person, right time)
  3. Tacit knowledge / intentional habit-building (see Cedric Chin's series).
  4. Mentorship / Coaching: how to spread a culture of gratitude + curiosity + kaizen + pragmatism?

Other interests

A partial listing of topics which appear on my Now page. I either find it really easy to talk about them, or have lingering thoughts from previous projects and may revisit them.

  • visualizing systems / accessible simulations
  • code maps
    • For communication, exploration, and problem-solving
  • engineering systems for growth, which includes both code and people components
    • See Jimmy Koppel on embedding the design into the code, Ruth Malan on architecture, Jessica Kerr's (Private)on symmathesy
  • expanding the scope of what can be automated with low effort (low code, no code)
    • saves time / attention / cognitive load
    • unlock new class of problems to larger groups of people
    • recombine ingredients into new tools (Boyd's OODA loop)
  • "Theory of Constraints" applied outside of physics (h/t Davis Nguyen)
    • Elihu Goldratt's "The Goal", "The Phoenix Project"
  • annotating primary source STEM documents (h/t Jennifer Shin)
  • framing activity in terms of James Carse's finite vs infinite games
  • on play as an end unto itself, not for "gamification" purposes or a proxy for health
  • principles of interaction/experience design that transcend electronics
    • Had the opportunity to come up with game ideas for 7 - 12 year old youths to be happy + active every week for a few years
  • interaction details that spark joy ✨
    • The Design of Everyday Things (Donald Norman)
  • managing personal energy / motivation
    • this is the well that makes everything else on this page possible
  • drawing / learning to see
  • applying technology to education, healthcare, environment
  • satellite imagery / remote sensing
    • MODIS, Landsat, VIIRS, etc are underutilized
  • cognitive science / behavioral economics
    • My original EE/CS plan was for CS to be Cognitive Science.
  • crossword puzzles
    • See The Pudding's analysis of representation in crossword clues
  • public data / civic tech / data journalism
    • Currently keeping an eye on NewsNerdery and BetaNYC
    • Volunteered with DataRefuge in 2016
  • spaced repetition / interactive essays that help you remember them
  • design patterns / fractal-like structures / semilattices
  • biomimicry
  • musing about the "future of code"
  • adding a narrative layers to data without imposing a boundary between "words" and "pictures"
    • Timelines represent time, maps represent space, comic strips capture both dimensions
    • See Scott McCloud's work on Making / Understanding Comics, Nick Sousanis's Unflattening

Recent Interests

  • See my Now page.


about this site

This page is loosely modeled after Devon Zuegel (Private)'s About