I haven’t been actively posting for awhile, but I’d like to change that. I have some life updates that I haven’t shared publicly until now, but the tl;dr is:
Last year, I transitioned from teaching to working as a developer at a large company. Because I’m doing more specialized work now, I’ve been able to dive deeper into certain web dev topics, and I’d love to share some of what I’m learning here on The Empty String. That likely means that my posts will be a bit more technical, but I will still try to write in a beginner-friendly tone.
I’ll also still post about game design and art things. I love the game design community here in St. Louis, and am hoping to be even more involved this year. You can definitely look forward to more playful art exhibitions from my curatorial project, The Flow Gallery.
So, on to the life updates…
I’m excited to be working as a Design Systems Developer at Charter Communications, where I am part of the team creating a library of UI components for Charter’s design system. I love that I get to work closely with UX designers, and that I can build accessibility into components that will be used throughout the company’s web products.
So, why did I step away from teaching? Well, my school (Lindenwood University-Belleville) announced that it was closing last May. It was a pretty big blow to me, and I posted some of my feelings at the time in a Twitter thread. Thankfully, I was able to move on to a new job with some help from some recruiter folks who quickly got me an interview at Charter (shout out to Justin Heuss at TEKsystems).
My teaching days aren’t over, though. My new job involves quite a bit of developer education through lunch-and-learns and helping out other devs with their CSS and markup woes. It turns out that teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS for six years makes you a popular person to come to for help figuring out flexbox and solving selector specificity.
And, of course, I want to keep teaching by writing articles, posting code snippets, and maybe recording some videos. I’m planning some upcoming posts on:
- CSS variables & the Shadow DOM
- The :focus-visible selector
- Common misunderstandings about the <input> element
If there’s anything in particular you’d like me to write about, please let me know! As I mentioned, I’ve been able to dive a little deeper into certain web dev topics now. That’s because when I was the Chair of the Interactive Media & Web Design program at Lindenwood, my research was rather broad in order to stay current with trends throughout interactive media. In addition to web development, I was working in game design, virtual reality, 360 video, voice interactions, and more. It was fun to explore lots of topics, but I’m glad now for the chance to really hone my expertise in one area.
On a final note, you might notice the look of this blog change within the next few months. I want to move away from WordPress to a static site generator, but that seems a little daunting at the moment, and I don’t want it to get in the way of me writing. So for now, I’ll keep on posting to WordPress!
I’ll leave you with with a couple tweets from my time between jobs.
Losing my campus & my job has certainly been one of the biggest emotional roller coasters of my life, but also right up there is that I just augered a huge hair clog out of our bathtub drain. 🛀— Derek Dadian-Smith (@dwds_) May 31, 2019
This kind of got lost with the news of my campus closing, but in April I was promoted to Associate Professor lol— Derek Dadian-Smith (@dwds_) June 26, 2019