Categories
Personal & Volunteer Portfolio

Queer Silicon Valley: LGBTQ+ History Digital Exhibit

Freelance project working with a small team to organize an online history website about area queer communities over the last 50 years.

Screenshot of QueerSiliconValley.org homepage
QueerSiliconValley.org homepage shows some of the 17 topical categories offered.

Last year, I was hired as an independent contractor to support the development and launch of a local history website. Originally intended as an in-person exhibit, QueerSiliconValley.org, a website documenting the history and culture of LGBTQ+ communities in and around Santa Clara County, California, was developed and launched in the summer and fall of 2020. Ken Yeager, BAYMEC Community Foundation’s Executive Director, spearheaded the effort and hired a small team of SJSU students to assist. Yeager’s “garage full of stuff” and a shared Google Drive was nowhere near exhibit-ready when we started. My role included project coordination, content wrangling, and helping set up the website.

Planning and communication via email alone quickly became untenable. During the early task breakdown phase, my teammates and I used a project management tool to assign and prioritize actions and research, but without the buy-in of our lead, the tool was abandoned to more lightweight methods. Part of the problem was that our lead would routinely communicate different requests and concerns to individual team members. To ensure the team was communicating those updates with each other, we established a private group chat, and I maintained a list of tasks related to whatever piece(s) of the project were active at a given time, along with who was responsible for them. I would also send an email as needed with this list as a status update. Team rapport was built via chat and Zoom meetings and was critical not only to our success, but social support during a sometimes-difficult process.

Each element of the project had its own tasking system, usually in Google Sheets, for managing notes, metadata, and status. This process became even more critical once the project hired a developer to build a custom WordPress site for us, meaning we had very specific content structure requirements to meet, as well as a needing a central place to note, report, and manage bugs and requests.

Throughout the project, I advocated for language and content changes to ensure the site was as inclusive as possible, such as including a content warning before stories involving violence (approved). I also helped the team learn some of the tech tools we used by creating a WordPress tips and tricks document and personally training our lead on how to navigate the site’s admin tools. I created a style guide, worked with our website developer to take ownership of several front-end display issues and fixes, and supported outreach and marketing efforts by creating slides, a media coverage page, and a ‘social sharing’ category. I did not stick to the letter of the project brief—if such a brief ever existed—and routinely offered suggestions and found ways to make things work.

Although I have not been actively involved the website management since December 2020, I know that new content being added has a clear place and format thanks to my efforts, and the team is empowered to carry out the work. Furthermore, the organizational systems I helped put in place set Ken Yeager and the History San Jose team up for success with an in-person exhibit opening mid-2021. It was by no means a perfect process—what is?—but having access to a variety of management theories and ideas meant I had ample tools to deploy as needed to keep things moving.

QueerSiliconValley.org website/online exhibit

Categories
Personal & Volunteer Portfolio

JavaScript Quote Randomizer (Glitch)

A fun project to display quotes from Schitt’s Creek character Moira Rose alongside dictionary definitions for her esoteric vocabulary choices.

Explore the project code on Glitch.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Saturday Night Live videos

Created relevant search features to highlight licensed SNL video content.

Screenshot of video result for the famous "More Cowbell" SNL sketch
Saturday Night Live on Yahoo Screen – mapping keywords to vast back catalog of sketches and video collections (No longer live due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

Ask

Yahoo Screen was planning to release a massive catalog of Saturday Night Live clips, spanning the series entire run. I was approached to create relevant search features to highlight the licensed content.

Process

I was given a list of video collections–recurring characters, hosts, themes, etc.–and an enormous spreadsheet containing video metadata for every single item in the catalog. My task: organize this data into discrete sets of keywords to bring up the precise, relevant video result or carousel of results, and investigate existing search coverage of SNL to ensure we cover those videos.

In addition to creating basic query patterns for such a huge catalog, I was able to have some fun creating aliases for the more popular videos, such as “needs more cowbell.” Specific clips and characters were likely to appear in search logs shortly after new episodes aired, so I planned to monitor dashboards in order to add new videos and keywords Sunday mornings.

Result

I turned around a huge list of keywords in a matter of days so the search experience launched at the same time as the Screen content. Post-launch, I trained a teammate how to look up video IDs and identify relevant query patterns so we could take advantage of the unique, timely spikes that only SNL had.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Niche “Knowledge Graph” reference features

Development of low-coverage search experiences for information about trees, food, planets, etc.

Screenshot of search result knowledge graph for a valley oak tree
Tree knowledge graph with growing information extracted from Calpoly’s website and images via Flickr Creative Commons APIs (no longer live)

Ask
Search leadership asked our editorial team to identify and develop “low hanging fruit” reference-type content as part of a competitive parity initiative. In some cases, we took content that had already been curated for standard search features and turned it into expanded right-side “Knowledge Graph”-style elements.

Process
For existing content, this was effectively a UX or template migration: the content was there, it just needed to be moved to a different format. Trees and food nutrition facts were two good examples. The only trick was that the images already curated weren’t large or high quality enough to serve as a large “hero”-type banner image, so I took advantage of Yahoo subsidiary, Flickr, which has a search-based API that let us serve only Creative Commons-licensed user images.

Result
Though these efforts did not represent high-volume queries, the effort did not go unnoticed by leadership, and it also served as an opportunity for less experienced team members to build their skills and flex creative muscle.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Earthquakes!

Used USGS API to directly answer variety of query patterns looking for recent earthquake information.

Screenshot of search result for recent earthquakes near Oklahoma
Recent earthquakes via USGS API with location-specific keywords and results

https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=latest+earthquakes

Ask
The editorial team that worked with Yahoo’s search content management platform was broadly tasked with generating and working on ideas for new search features. One method of doing this was to browse government developer sites for APIs and structured data that might map to valuable search user needs. That’s how I learned about the United States Geological Service’s “latest earthquakes” API.

Process
First, I wanted to determine how often people search for earthquake information, and how they formulate such queries. Once internal analytics tools validated that there was sufficient search volume to proceed, I used a tool that let me pull queries by URL–that is, I got a report containing search queries that resulted in a web result click anywhere on the “earthquake.usgs.gov” domain. I classified these queries as “earthquake data intent” and “not earthquake data intent,” and further by patterns like “6.2 earthquake,” “earthquake in Japan,” and “latest LA earthquakes.”

Once I identified the main earthquake-intent patterns, I needed to determine how best to handle location information. Because the USGS API supported location by both a radius around a single point (appropriate queries containing a city name) and a bounding box with minimum and maximum latitude and longitude (worked for countries and regions), I created a list of popular locations for which bounding box location was more useful than a radius and let a global location list handle everything else.

Finally, the UX proved trickier than hoped. Initially I hoped to include a map component, which was supported in our tool, but a front end bug prevented it from rendering correctly, so I worked with a designer to massage a text-only table into an appealing result that presented all the relevant information. (Because the bug did not appear for any high-priority features, the engineering time was unable to devote time to fixing it.)

Result
Earthquakes represented an interesting use case for location handling. The search feature routinely spiked any time the earth moved and appeared alongside news headlines.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Community Season 6 (but no movie)

Created rich search experiences to feature Yahoo Screen originals alongside knowledge graph.

Screenshot of Yahoo Search results for the TV series "Community" including season 6 episodes streaming on Yahoo Screen
Community Season 6 – featured Yahoo Screen video content + keyword list cultivation for TV series knowledge graph (no longer active due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

When Yahoo Screen made its foray into full-length original TV series with Community and others, we were ready to go in search. I made sure that the latest episodes carousel had excellent coverage and TV Series Knowledge Graph contained accurate, detailed profiles.

Meanwhile…

Photo of Emily with actor Gillian Jacobs when the latter visited Yahoo in Sunnyvale
Grabbed a selfie with Gillian Jacobs

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Yahoo original video content

Keyword mapping and search placement for curated original video content.

Screenshot of an inline video player search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Yahoo News original documentary – full video played inline on top of search results
Screenshot of a video search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Smaller version among search results for alternative keywords
(no longer live)

Ask

Yahoo’s video site, Screen, hosted a wide variety of original content over the years, and they periodically asked for this content to appear in search results.

Process

Over the years, I built a relationship with contacts working on Yahoo’s video properties to support their efforts to receive views via relevant search traffic. While at first these appeared in search only as enhanced hyperlinks, eventually the search front-end team implemented an inline player functionality so we could embed Yahoo original content and other videos directly on a search results page. I created an expandable search feature that allowed me to respond quickly to the video team’s requests and generate appropriate keyword lists.

Result

Teams throughout Yahoo knew they could rely on Search to support their efforts to promote premium original content on-network without using significant resources per request.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

2016 U.S. Primary Election search features

Planning and deployment of election-related search experiences to lead users to reliable information on commonly searched queries.

Screenshot of candidate search features with example content for Hillary Clinton
2016 US Presidential Election search features, including candidate Knowledge Graph with fundraising data from OpenSecrets.org and polling from Real Clear Politics.
Screenshot of candidate quotes feature with example content for Marco Rubio
Factchecked quotes from the Politifact Truth-O-Meter.
Screenshot of candidate issue stance feature with example content for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump on gun control
Where candidates stand on the issues, with researched positions from ProCon.org and “explore related” suggested queries manually curated.

Ask

I was approached by search product teams working on distinct experiences around the then-upcoming 2016 U.S. primary election to offer feedback on proposed designs and organize editorial efforts in content curation and quality validation.

Process

  1. Led team effort to develop detailed list of potential features along with timeline, content source(s), and priority. Features based on team knowledge and real user search data/query patterns.
  2. Researched content sources for features that would be relevant in early 2016 (general politics, candidate research). Key requirements included high-quality, politically neutral data; structured in a way that was compatible with our content management platform; served in XML or JSON format or able to be extracted and converted to usable form.
  3. Joined product team meetings to give updates on content development and share feedback on whether design matched real content and user needs.
  4. Created and launched experiences on web search and provided support for other platforms using our work.

Result

By February 2016, we launched several features on web search:

  • Presidential candidate knowledge graph, incorporating party affiliation, donation data from OpenSecrets.org, polling data, and political office history.
  • Latest quotes with “truthfulness” rating from Politifact for all presidential candidates.
  • Candidate stances on 20+ key political issues extracted from ProCon.org with manually curated browse element to help search users explore candidate opinions.
  • Political cartoon of the day.

Additionally, detailed requirements for election results and future election experience ideas were documented.