Secular Products

by Shawn Allen

New Beginnings

Today was my last day as Interaction Director at Stamen. I’ve worked with Eric (and Mike, until he left last year) for over 8 years, and I’m proud of the the work that we’ve done and the business that we’ve built together. I made up my most recent title a couple of years ago to distinguish my role as the director of our interactive development practice, and facilitator of the interaction between our design and technology teams. Stamen is, after all, a design and technology studio, and the nexus of these disciplines is where our most interesting work happens.

A couple of years ago something else happened, though: a mysterious health issue surfaced, manifesting for me first as mild discomfort during long bike rides and eventually evolving into an icy pain that shot down the sides of my legs whenever I sat or stood still for even short periods of time. I saw a rotating cast of doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, Pilates instructors, acupuncturists and pain specialists without a conclusive diagnosis until this November, when an osteopath finally discovered that that I have scoliosis. My spine is curved, and he believes that the pain is muscular fatigue produced by my body trying to account for its skeletal imbalance.

So I’m taking a break to heal the wounds from half a lifetime of sitting and standing in front of a computer screen, and when I’m healed I will return to Stamen with a new title: Partner and Advisor. It’s been my honor to work with so many wonderful people over the years, and I can’t wait to see what this amazing team does in 2014 and beyond. I’m very much invested in this company, and I look forward to discovering a role in which I can continue to help it kick ass and grow while pursuing my own passions.

It’s exciting to admit that I’m not quite sure what’s next for me. Whatever I end up doing, though, I hope to continue teaching the practice of interactive data visualization that we’ve pioneered at Stamen. Years ago we came up with a slogan for ourselves, to make data RAD: Relevant, Accessible and Desirable. We’ve come a long way as a society in figuring out how to visualize and communicate data, but we’re still at the beginning of infinity. It’s my life-long goal to advance this important discipline so that we can better understand both ourselves and the world around us. And I’m just getting started.