About Amanda

My family got a computer when I was 9. My Dad did a lot of research and bought the best one on the market – a Micron Millennia. From the day he plugged it in, I made it my job to push that computer beyond what it was meant to do. I didn’t know its limits, so I just kept working until I made the computer do what I wanted, even if my methods were unconventional (I once spent over an hour manually changing the colors of individual pixels in MS Paint to create a convincing doctored photograph of celebrities who’s heads I’d swapped).

From then on, I gravitated towards anything digital. I started designing newsletters and logos in middle school. I became a computer lab assistant my freshman year of high school, and was a breakout speaker at the Illinois Student Technology Conference the same year. I began writing and digitally producing video for our school sophomore through senior year. I joined the yearbook staff and took classes in digital design and animation.

Teaching a group class at Apple, showing one of my personal websites I'd designed using iWeb

After high school I applied for a job with Apple, and was hired the day I turned 18. There, I educated customers through sales, but was also given the unique opportunity to teach group classes in a theater setting, and private classes on a one-on-one level. I covered topics ranging from Basic Getting Started, through Photoshop and Final Cut Pro on a daily basis. I taught children in our “Apple Camps,” and even the most elderly adults in our “Pro Care” program (now known as One-to-One).

While in college, I started a tech column for my school’s newspaper, covering topics ranging from automotive technology to Net Neutrality to the One Laptop Per Child Initiative. I also took the newspaper online, and became the first online editor, responsible for all maintenance, graphics, and weekly uploads to the site. The same year, I was also able to convince the school to allocate more than half of their budget for all student activities to providing the newspaper with new computer equipment, which we desperately needed.

During my student teaching clinicals (teaching high school social studies was a delicate balance of history, technology, and wrangling teenagers!)

I also earned my teaching degree at this time, and learned to teach in a traditional classroom setting at the secondary level. I had been inspired by an amazing teacher I’d had in high school who’d helped us learn about history by using green screens and video cameras to do projects. He created something at my school called the “Creativity Center,” and I have never seen anything like it. It housed a TV studio, radio studio, and a Frankenstein’s Monster mess of old computers that he’d resurrected and rigged up to allow us to do all sorts of things that helped us learn off of paper. It was the first time I’d really found I enjoyed History, and suddenly the whole subject came alive for me as he reached me in my “native language.” I hoped to be that kind of teacher as well.

Meanwhile, my husband, who I met working for Apple, had created a few pieces of software that had become somewhat of an overnight success in the Mac software market. With student teaching on the horizon, I left Apple we began working full-time on the company he’d created. This gave me amazing experience at managing a business, and we learned quite a bit from it.

Through the years, I’ve also worked to cultivate hobbies in writing fiction and non-fiction (I earned a double major in English, my other passion writing and reading), photography, and digital design.

Aside from my normal work at <i srcset=SuperSibs!, I’m also the chair of the inaugural Auxiliary Board” width=”270″ height=”180″ />I currently work at an organization called SuperSibs! which works to empower brothers and sisters of kids battling cancer. While families struggle to help their ill child survive, despite their best efforts they often watch helplessly while their other children feel insignificant, afraid, and ignored. It is tremendously draining to attend to all the needs of a child with cancer, and understand all the medical information and make decisions on treatment, let alone find the energy necessary to be fully present with their other children as well.  SuperSibs! was created for this reason — to honor, support and recognize these special children – the brothers and sisters who wonder in the background, “What about me?”

At SuperSibs! I create newsletters for children age 4-18 that are mailed twice a year. I also create printable activities delivered through the website on a monthly basis. I have helped create marketing and print materials for donors and fundraisers, displays for exhibits we have put up at art galleries, and outreach information we have sent to hospitals and clinics throughout the US and Canada. I have pioneered our use of dynamic iBooks, and the ability for our content to also be distributed on other eReaders as well, which has cut costs and allowed us to reach a wider audience without having to worry about production, shipping, or storage of hard copied materials. I also continue to help develop SuperSibs!‘ ability to reach out to kids (30,000 and counting) through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I am also currently the chair for the inaugural SuperSibs! Auxiliary Board. My duties there include running meetings, coordinating board member communications, handling our online presence and marketing, fundraising, and event planning.

Some say I'm quite flashyOn weekends, I take photographs of everything. I have recently started specializing in portraiture, but I love travel photography as well (not just because I love to travel!). I love capturing the little things that are easy to miss, and enjoy getting new angles and unique perspectives of my subjects. This fall I am shooting my first wedding.

In my work at Okyne Medialab, I have done extensive work on social networking, advertising, SEO, and multimedia for clients and for the company. I design monograms, create photo slideshows, manage music, and edit marketing material on a daily basis. I am constantly looking for new solutions to maximize our presence online and through other outreach techniques.

I appreciate the power of digital life. A hot new gadget is only hot if it’s used right. A digital presence can be a great asset or a huge liability, so you have to be smart about online privacy. I love eBooks, cloud computing, and RSS feeds. I educate those around me about the dangers of phishing scams, legislation like SOPA and PIPA, and small installations that fly under the radar like RFID technology and biometrics.

Still, as much as technology enhances our lives, it really only does just that. It shouldn’t replace social interaction, just reinforce it. It shouldn’t become the only lens through which we view our world, but allow us to sharpen our focus. So knowing how to use the gadgets we have to enrich our lives is really the best part about being tech savvy.

Being able to transform old photos into a surprise anniversary video, or start a video chat with a relative 800 miles away is not really about a computer. Computers are just the vehicles, and I love teaching people how to drive.