Picture of me.

Spencer Yen

Hi hello! Labels are hard but I consider myself a NYC-based technologist, engineer, designer, and aspiring chef.

Favorites

• "The world is open for play" - Robin Williams

• "It's all about finesse" - Thomas Keller

• "To know what you're going to draw, you have to begin drawing.” - Picasso

• Ski day (ideally powder), followed by a great homecooked with great wine and conversation

• Citibiking NYC streets, especially at night

Interests

• Observing the cultural zeitgeist from as many angles as possible

• Food and wine, trends in what we eat, what this says about culture, upsteam healthcare, and personal cooking

What makes art art? Who are the tastemakers? Why? What's next for art? (nfts)

• The past, present, and future of consumer media (McLuhan, Jurgenson, boyd)

• The physical spaces we navigate and live in, Latour's missing masses

American work culture, capitalism's iron cage (Weber), and the future of China/US relations

Power of ritual and the sociology of religion

• 🏂🏃‍♂️🚴👨‍🍳🍷🏄🏕🏞️

Selected Writing

On Collective Effervescence, Running, and Memecoins (2023)

On Kool-Aid, Cautious Optimism, and Joining Uniswap (2021)

On Spatial Configuration and Social Interaction (2020)

An Open Letter to Bay Area Families on College Admissions (2020)

The Buddhist Work Ethic: The Influence and Role of Buddhism in Silicon Valley (2019)

The Evolution of Social Media Platforms: Exploring the Usage Patterns of Social Media in Young Adults (2019)

Art in the 21st Century: Challenging and Changing Convention (2019)

Building a Modern Chinese Lifestyle Brand Through Food (Profile of Junzi Kitchen, 2019)

On the Geneology of Myself (2018)

My Middle School Campaign Speech (2012)

Thinking About the Future of Culture and Identity in America (2017)

My Biggest Small Contribution To DoorDash (2017)

In the Information Age, Imagine There’s No Heaven, No Countries, No Possessions (2017)

From the Free Range Childhood to the Pre-Professional Adolescence (2016)

Work

Uniswap Labs (present) - they say the world adopts this technology once the UX improves, I'm trying to see if that's true.

MIT Media Lab, Center for Constructive Communication (2020-2021) - built prototypes to understand and improve political polarization online and offline. Built a tool to monitor the most shared links on Twitter and associated political sharing patterns. Part of the Schmidt Futures Impact Fellowship.

Karuna Health (2019) - designed and built iOS and Android mobile app for care teams to manage HIPAA compliant communication with patients via SMS, phone calls, email.

Snackpass (YC W18) (2018) - built and launched a iPad self-service kiosk ordering system for restaurants. Redesigned the receipt. Helped with ground operations with restaurants in New Haven and got to know the incredible food scene (BAR, Arethusa 💯)

DoorDash (KP Engineering Fellow) (2017) - worked on iOS and Android for the alcohol and group orders team, achieved mini-fame by writing iOS release notes

superlabs (Acquired by Zynga) (2015) - helped build Draw Something for Messenger on iOS from scratch, one of the first games for Facebook Messenger.

Ever (2014) - learned how a real startup operated and worked on location based photo search on iOS (an Atomic company)

Projects

Retroplay (2020) - A 2020 year-in-review app for TikTok creators and fans. Reached #11 on Entertainment top charts, featured on Insider, Thrillist, Distractify, Techcrunch

1888 (July 2018) - Disposable camera-style iOS app that also sells physical prints. Originally released July 2018, reached #32 on Top Photo and Video charts, featured on Refinery29 and Business Insider. In Dec. 2019, went viral on TikTok and reached #3 on Top Photo and Video charts, #7 on Top Free Apps.

MySmileBuddy (2018-2020) - worked with a team at Columbia Dental to build an iPad-based tool for community health workers to prevent childhood tooth decay in underserved communities (most prevalent chronic disease among children!)

• Kenzo Health (2018) - data-driven pain management for clinicians. Won 2nd Place at Columbia Venture Competition and received a grant from winning Columbia Engineering's Opioid Design Challenge. Learned a lot about digital therapeutics, but couldn't find a market fit and didn't have the necessary healthcare background.

Selfie Activism (Spring 2017) - an app to send selfies and opinions to your representatives. Won Columbia's hackathon, learned a lot about the civic tech space, and realized most mail that reps receive goes to the trash.

Flutter (2016) - an attempt at yet another college social app. Started off as an events discovery app, threw a couple launch parties during orientation, did Columbia's startup accelerator, changed the app to a to a GIF creation and sharing app. Social is a weird space.

Eternal (2016) - a flashcard app that uses GIFs and the memory palace technique. I wrote about it, the local paper wrote about it, and Apple featured it on the App Store.

Yo From (2014) - my friend Aakash Thumaty and I made a joke app in high school and got a tiny feature in TechCrunch.

Links

spencersyen at google mail

spenciefy.eth's digital art collection

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