abbe don

executive producer / design dominatrix

In the beginning...

In 1896, at just six years old, my great-grandmother and her family fled Lithuania from the Cossacks. Her arms kneaded the challah dough over and over as she told the stories about crossing the ocean, her Yiddish inflections weaving in and out of the past and the present, the old country and America, creating an endless braid of interconnected stories.

At Pomona College, I discovered that my love for multi-threaded stories coincided with a trend in experimental narrative circles. I tried to balance my intellectual high-brow fascination with post-modern literary theory and my practical, visceral love of my great-grandmother's stories. I self-published a book called No Soup, Just Mazto Balls which now lives on the web as an ongoing attempt to keep my great-grandmother alive.

Then suddenly...

I saw a touch-screen shopping kiosk at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles during the summer Olympics in 1984. I had an "aha" sense in my heart and my gut that this technology combined with the kinds of stories I wanted to tell would be the perfect medium. I began a circuitous route to learn all I could about technology, driven by my love of stories, as I entered the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, worked as an intern in the Human Interface Group at Apple Computer, and eventually landed in 1988 smack dab in the middle of the emerging independent multimedia community in San Francisco. I bridged the worlds of independent multimedia artist and "work for hire" interface designer as I commuted down highway 280 between San Francisco and Silicon Valley and back again.

And finally...

My friend Howard Rheingold asked me to help him think through the interface issues of his personal site Brainstorms. My professional diagnosis: rich content, personal, charming but painfully convoluted. Little did I know that my tidbits of email and friendly advice would turn into the most challenging "gig" of my professional life. The combination of friendship and community, the spirit of the enterprise brings out the brightest and the darkest aspects of people. But from this passion and fire emerges new ideas, new forms, new words, new friends, new possibilities.

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