About me

Photo of Liza Daly

I’m a software engineer and occasional corporate executive who lives in Boston. I’m currently focusing on computer-mediated art, interactive narrative, and digital publishing.

Formerly I was CTO at Safari and prior to that I founded a digital publishing company called Threepress, which Safari acquired. My new company is World Writable.

I’ve been quoted about "Digital Detox" and the effects of the iPad on reading (NYT, 2010), ebooks in the cloud (Wired, 2011), and on strategies to help introverts network (FastCompany, 2015). I’ve presented about great engineering teams and digital publishing. I wrote a short book on Next-Generation Web Frameworks in Python (O'Reilly, 2007), which is out of date so please don’t read it.

Commercial work

Publishing, mentoring, and software engineering

Image of flowers

Publishing & software engineering

I’m available to work on consulting and software projects and am especially interested in digital publishing, library technology, natural language processing, and interactive narrative. Get in touch to discuss your project.

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Mentoring & coaching

I enjoy teaching, and recently have been involved in the Banff Centre course on Digital Narratives, and am currently a teaching assistant in Full Stack Web Development at Thinkful. I also offer private mentorship to individuals from underrepresented groups in technical management or leadership roles. Please contact me to discuss mentoring options.

Recent projects

In July 2016 I helped launch Label This!, a crowd-sourced transcription project for University of California, Davis. Label This is based on scribeAPI, a Rails/React webapp that allows visitors to select and transcribe areas of interest on digitized material.

In future work on the archive we hope to expose rich metadata derived from user contributions as well as provide expert commentary on the history of wine-making and wine commerce. I’m actively exploring ways to use OCR and machine learning techniques to further unlock this corpus of beautiful images.

Three wine labels from the Label This project

Writing

Selected samples; more on Medium.

Natural Language Processing for Programmers

A series on learning to manipulate text with computers: introduction; text generation with context-free grammars; classifying naughty stories. Part four teaches chatbot creation using a unique interface for real-time, interactive code learning. Part five covers augmenting NLP with world models.

Cover from 80s computer game
Box Art Brut

Videogame art before there were rules.

Screenshot from the game Fallout 4
Replay and regret

Choosing your own adventure can mean choosing wrong.

Pac-Man 'kill screen'
The art of the bug

Failure should be fun.

Photo of a young girl and a machine
What I didn’t know about great engineering culture

Reflections on interviewing other women technology leaders.

Screenshot of the computer-generated MA statehouse
The job that games do

Why and when we choose to play.

Screenshot of circles from Device 6
Wordplay

The best ebooks are games.

Procedural art & experiments

Projects which use computers in both smart and dumb ways to generate new “artistic” forms

Seraphs: A procedurally generated mysterious codex

A computer-generated book based on the Voynich Manuscript. Featured on The Pacific Standard, Metafilter, and written about by author Robin Sloan. How it was created.

Page from Seraphs
Page from Seraphs

random.chance: Computer-imagined surrealist montages

Code to generate compositions that resemble surrealist photomontages in the style of early surrealists, using period images from the Internet Archive. Essay on randomness in computer-generated art. Source code.

Page from random.chance
Page from random.chance

Saga III: Recreating the first computer-written teleplay

A reimagining of a 1961 computer program that generated the screenplay to a Western, filmed by CBS television. Source code and history of the project.

Video of a computer console
Page from random.chance
Page from random.chance
Page from random.chance

Bots

Ridiculous Twitter bots (my guide to coding them)

Example of tweet by @emilyvanderbot

@emilyvanderbot

Generates abstract color tiles after Emily Noyes Vanderpoel’s 1902 work on color theory.

Example of tweet by @soamazingquote

@soamazingquote

Finds tweets with inspirational-sounding messages and mis-attributes them to famous people like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln.

Example of tweet by @i_luv_recipes

@i_luv_recipes

Picks a random dish, parses its ingredients, and makes random (usually revolting) substitutions, just like people who comment on internet recipes.

Example of tweet by @botilius_syrus

@botilius_syrus

Tweets out the aphorisms of Publilius Syrus & annotates them with contextually relevant emoji.🎁

Other

Games, tutorials, and technical writing

Screenshot from First Draft of the Revolution

First Draft of the Revolution

“A marvel—an exploration of the space between the mind and the page the likes of which I've never experienced.” — Kotaku

An interactive epistolary story I commissioned from Emily Short. I designed and coded the initial prototype which was then completed by Inkle. Play in a browser now, or download an EPUB 3 for use in iBooks.

Winner, Best Use of Innovation, 2013 XYZZY Awards.
Screenshot from EPUB 3 tutorial

Rich design publications with EPUB 3

A tutorial for IBM Developerworks on using CSS3 media query, HTML5 navigation, and MathML in EPUB 3 publications.

Book cover for Books: A Futurist Manifesto

What we can do with “books”

Chapter from Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto

Successful digital-first literature must be immersive, non-trivial, and participatory.

Cover from EPUB 3 Best Practices

Interactivity

(chapter from EPUB 3 Best Practices)

Covering embedding JavaScript and other forms of interactivity into EPUB 3 publications.

Page from the monograph

Digital monograph technical landscape

A report prepared for the UK academic funding organization JISC on digital publishing, ebooks, and scholarly communication.

Screenshot from EPUB 3 sample

EPUB 3 samples

Source code and packaged files demonstrating use of the accelerometer, multimedia, responsive design, and touch-based interactivity.