MAY-LI KHOE

I work to help people foster their own creativity and empowerment to solve big, important problems and joyfully subvert the status quo, together.

I invent new ways of interacting with computers by learning about humans, sculpting pixels, and playing with code.

In 2014, I left a long stint at Apple, where I designed and prototyped new things to poke at with the Human Interface Device Prototyping team. My work included the invention of new interactions across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and more, as well as fundamental UI concepts for Apple's Force Touch and Taptic Engine, which are now in the MacBook, Magic Trackpad, iPhone 6S, and Apple Watch. My explorations helped justify and refine the development of the iPad mini, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil. They also led to the strategic acquisition of major new technologies. As a side project with a friend, I designed and shipped a transportation app that now makes Apple commuters' lives easier.

I'm now applying my practice toward helping human learning at a nonprofit called the Khan Academy where I was Director of Design and Co-founder & Co-Director of the Long-term Research group, and am now VP of Design.

With the Long-term Research group, we published some interactive articles on Playful Worlds of Creative Math and New Ways to Play with Numbers. Our current investigations are focused on critical thinking and peer interaction.

My meta goal is to continue finding and refining a style of design leadership that stays true to myself and empowers the team, setting the quality bar high for both our design output and the humanity of how we work together. I'm proud of how far the team has come and excited by how far I know they'll go.

Sometimes, I'm up to some other stuff.

I spin music under the name DJ China Tu Madre with La Pelanga Collective which I co-founded out of Oakland. We've had residences at the Brick and Mortar and Oakland Museum of California, and performed at the New Parish, Starline Social Club, Bissap Baobab, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and more. We collaborate regularly with the People's Kitchen Collective to make immersive educational culinary experiences at the intersection of art and activism.

I've learned to dance in a wide variety of styles that looked impossible to me from the outset. (Luckily, there are always more impossible things to do.)

Music and dance serve as powerful ways to connect to people from all over the globe. I am a relentless studier of human cultures, which never cease to fascinate me with their power to influence thinking, travel far beyond their origins, survive hundreds of years despite persecution, and evolve continuously.

I am a friend and lab family of Dynamicland (formerly Communications Design Group) where I collaborate with Bret Victor and the team. I also have an ongoing experimental project with Paula Te that brings together food, culture, and the dynamic medium, called 50 Years.

After leaving Apple, I spent a month playing at the intersection between fashion and computation by learning how to generate things to wear at Eyebeam in New York, and the resulting work has been on exhibition several times since then. I've been part of the Cultural Incubator at Gray Area Gallery, and was an artist in a field of inquiry called the Future Soul Collective at YBCA in San Francisco.

I'm also serving as an advisor to Workbench, a Knight Foundation grantee and integrated data journalism platform that makes it easy to assemble and manipulate data without any coding. It's critical to spread understanding and power over data, and Workbench is dedicated to that mission.

I wasn't allowed to give talks while I was at Apple, but since then I've spoken at a few places, like Layers and Creative Mornings. I've especially loved speaking to students at CMU and UC Berkeley.

I've also been on the Design Details podcast twice, once on my own and once with my research partner, Andy Matuschak.

In ancient history, I studied Computer Science and Engineering at MIT. I did undergraduate research with Pattie Maes at the MIT Media Lab, and graduate research with Julie Dorsey at the Laboratory for Computer Science (now CSAIL).

I'm dedicated to helping build a truly diverse and vibrant community of inventors who know how to listen, understand, question, and be prepared to redesign the world. I believe in cultivating deep cultural change that empowers all people to invent new systems of thought. I believe that we can find new ways of being that move beyond the dominant systems that led to marginalization and imbalance in the first place. I daydream about joyful ways to subvert the status quo.

I'm very aware that nobody can make great change by themselves, regardless of how much our society likes to portray individual heroes.

Are you an designer, prototyper, educator-and-tinkerer, person-who-doesn't-fit-into-a-category, who aims not only to hone your craft and build great things, but also design the experience people have working with you? Want to build together? Or, are you an organizer of things and want me to give a talk? Feel free to reach out (response time variable)!

mayli at maylikhoe.com
@mayli