About me

Photo of Liza Daly

I’m a software engineer and occasional corporate executive who lives in Boston. I’m currently working as a Staff Engineer with the Democratic National Committee. My personal projects revolve around digital 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.

I was featured in a Topic piece about women mentors and 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 I wrote a short book on Next-Generation Web Frameworks in Python (O'Reilly, 2007), which is out of date so please don’t read it.

I enjoy teaching, and was an invited instructor to a Banff Centre course on Digital Narratives, and acted as 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.

Commercial work

Recent solo projects

Creative Commons: CC Search (2017)

I was brought on to lead and implement a new image search for Creative Commons. CC Search indexes a corpus of over 10 million publicly licensed images from museums, libraries, and individuals, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Europeana, and the New York Public Library. I was solely responsible for designing the architecture, acquiring and loading the data, writing the code, and deploying on a new AWS-based infrastructure.

Coverage of CC Search in Newsweek and TechCrunch. At Creative Commons' request, I wrote up technical notes, which were later published in Hacker Noon.

University of California, Davis: Label This! (2016)

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.

Three wine labels from the Label This project
Three paintings from the CC Search project

Images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Rijksmuseum,
via CC Search

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.

Cartoon of a man working with an old-fashioned computer
AI Literacy: Machine learning basics for everyone

A three-part accessible tour of AI.

Detail from I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold by Charles Demuth
Ethical imperatives in AI and generative art

Guidelines on a less harmful future.

Cover from 80s computer game
Box Art Brut

Videogame art before there were rules.

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 & code

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

Windrift: A framework for mutable stories

Windrift is designed to produce narratives that are informed by user selection and choice, similar to systems like Twine. Windrift is built on the React/Redux JavaScript frameworks, and adds narrative-focused components like state management, a story timeline, and elements that branch or respond to user input. It was used to write Stone Harbor, an entry in the 2016 Interactive Fiction Competition.

Screenshot from Cloak of Darkness
Screenshot from The House of Dust

The Days Left Forebodings and Water: Generated blackout poetry

Creates artwork in the style of Newspaper Blackout Poetry using natural language processing and optical character recognition. Source code. Feature on Waxy.org.

Page from Forebordings
Page from Forebodings
Page from Forebordings
Page from Forebodings

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

Cover of the game Stone Harbor

Stone Harbor

“Stone Harbor tells the story of a sidewalk for-entertainment-purposes-only psychic who finds himself dragged into a police investigation requiring genuine powers.” — Rock Paper Shotgun

An interactive detective story, playable in a web browser and written using the Windrift story engine. Stone Harbor is mobile-friendly and highly accessible. Interview about the development of the piece with Emily Short. Source code.

4th place 2016 Interactive Fiction Competition, and finalist for three 2016 XYZZY Awards including Best 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.

Best Use of Innovation, 2013 XYZZY Awards.
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.

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.

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.