I’m a product manager, a developer, and a city nerd. I’m on the web to try to build collaborative tools that make us more generous and empathetic with each other.
PS my legal name is currently Frank Johnson but that’s a different story.*
I was born outside of Akron, Ohio, a small city a bit south of the Great Lakes in the United States. I received my BSc in City & Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, where I also co-founded and ran The Maker Club at OSU, as well as served as a Buckeye Leadership Fellow. I now live in New York City, where I work as a Product Manager and UX Design at Shift Lab.
Web design and engineering
I love the web. I can't overstate how important I think it is, not only as a communication tool, but as a way of thinking and of treating each other. I don't think the web is quite in our bloodstream as a society yet. Everything else I'm learning professionally is to support building better platforms on the web.
I've been skateboarding longer than I've done anything in my life, and I still keep at it a couple days a week at my local skatepark. I've written one post about how I've stuck to it, and I'd like to write other articles for beginners about things other than how to kickflip. I'm writing for young me, who immediately googled the physics behind how ollies work the first time he saw one (shoutout to SkatePhysics101.tripod.com for the help!)
I attended Ohio State for my undergraduate degree, studying City & Regional Planning and writing a little paper on how the environment should be added into metrics that measure equity in cities. I'm interested in the urban biome, and I'd like to work on bringing city-dwellers closer to the nature all around them. For me that begins with capturing the data on all that urban nature right under our noses, because in our current economic system if it isn't measured it isn't valued. So I've begun volunteering at my local community garden and contributing to the amazing OpenStreetMap project.
In the next 5 years I hope to help create means for people to live materially closer to their biome within cities, whether it's on zoning law that demands higher weight tolerances on buildings to support future roof gardens, or machines that let coffee shops turn their used grounds into bowls for takeout shops in their neighborhood.
I believe wholeheartedly that the tools are available today to fundamentally rethink how production happens. I am very interested in designing tools, both physical and digital, that everyday people can use to make other things. On the physical side I have built and donated a 3D Printer, a four-color t-shirt screen printing press, and a CNC machine. On the virtual side, I've started building small tools that help automate simple web design tasks, with the hope to build more robust tools for more concrete problems in the future.
This site is a tool!
I'm using the Obisidian note-taking app to manage the content of this site right from inside my second brain!
That's why I'm learning Rust as my systems-level programming language. Tools that people will reach for without thinking need to be impossible to break, and I have a long way to go to build the kind of software that people don't think twice about using.
If you are interested in any of these areas, or are simply looking to connect and share ideas with someone in Manhattan or in cyberspace, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com