Profile: Ed Tang

August 9th, 2006 by Hugh

Extreme programmingEd played violin and piano while growing up, and later trained as an audio engineer working in television on soap operas and cartoons. In 2000, while visiting London’s Millenium Dome, he was inspired by a Japanese music installation to try his hand in interactive art. One of his projects involved hooking sensors to his body, and making computer music from the galvanic skin response from his fingertips. At the same time he was working towards a PHD in digital art, but be became “burned out” by academia and decided to look for a job.

It might be that Ed is at Exbiblo by a quirk of fate. He had worked as a teaching assistant on a course at the University of Washington called “Digital Sound Synthesis.” By chance, Exbiblio’s Adam Behringer had attended that same class several years before. He had considered it to be “simultaneously the most useless and useful course he had ever taken”. When he saw Ed’s application, he decided that he probably wasn’t qualifed for the job in question, but was intrigued enough to meet him. During the job interview, they spent about 90 minutes trying to find a role for Ed and settled on “assistant blog master”. But the blogs initative fizzled out for a while, and Ed ended up helping with the code on the software project named “Kibble”.

Previously Ed had programmed computers “in the service of art”, and so writing code is not quite as far as it might seem from his background in the Arts. The work is very immediate. Usually he responds to requests when somebody says, “Hey can you do this? Or fix that?”.

As for Exbiblio’s office culture, he says he can’t really judge it – as he’s never worked in an office before – “but people tell me it’s unconventional.”

Longer term, Ed sees his role growing into the social media side of Exbiblio. Initially he was attracted to the idea of using Exbiblio technolgy to explore literature and the arts, perhaps working closely with academia, and “revitalising literature for the new age.” Now even wider vistas appear to be opening up, but that’s a story for another time.

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