Interview with Eldan Goldenberg

Eldan manages data by mapping, building 3D models, designing web features, drinking tea, and taking the occasional bike ride through Interlaken Park.

Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

A: Right now it's a view of A-ka-lat from the beach at La Push...Oh wait, not that kind of background. What I do has changed dramatically over the years. My first degree was in psychology. I "pivoted" into Artificial Intelligence research, until I dropped out to work on environmental causes because systems dynamics work I was doing as part of that research gave me a terrifyingly clear sense of how immediate the climate crisis really is. For a few years I helped put classes on for environmental professionals, then I cofounded The Happiness Initiative and helped it with survey design, data analysis and engaging immigrant community groups. These days I find myself programming again, though it's very different from the research I do.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: My three main projects are:

*DRiVE Decisions, the GIS application that fellow Hub member Luis Borrero developed: he built an amazing platform for viewing civic data and 3D building mockups overlaid on Google Earth, and for a little over a year I've been helping him automate data management, bring in data from a broader array of sources, and make the user interface much more flexible.

*Trike, a tool to help information security analysts model threats and identify potential security problems. I'm helping write a modern web front end for it so that it will be easier to use and people will be able to export clear charts for use in slides and reports.

*Building some extensions for the forum software that Context Institute uses to coordinate volunteers.

Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: I decided to join a coworking space as soon as I went freelance, because I knew I'd need human contact and the routine of leaving the house to go to work and leaving work behind at the end of the day. I chose Impact Hub because the territory between eternally cash-starved nonprofits and rapacious tech startups feels like where the next world-changing ventures are going to come from.

Q: How do you make money?

A: By making software that helps people tell stories about the world, using data that would be hard to make sense of on its own- whether that's by putting information on a map, looking for patterns in data sets or turning numbers into readable charts.

Q: What is something that really excites you right now (a trend, life development, time of year, food, etc.)?

A: The way that the ability to instantly talk to people almost anywhere in the world is changing society. It looks pretty chaotic because the old ways we have of organizing the world don't fit, but I think it;s actually one of the most hopeful trends going on because it encourages everyone to see the humanity in everyone else, and leaves us needing central organizations less.

Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: Buying up some of central Seattle's surface parking lots and building no-preconditions housing for homeless people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

If this really happened to me I'd have to take a lot more time choosing between competing priorities, but this one's at the front of my mind right now. We've seen the effectiveness of Housing First, but the region seems maddeningly slow to provide space for more people, while the homeless population keeps growing, I just want us to do more of what works!

Q: What’s on the horizon for you (a new project, career path, personal development)?

A: I'm transitioning from working full-time on one project to working more like a freelancer. I'm excited about some of the things I've wanted time to work on for a while, but I will also miss being deeply involved in one thing and I'm nervous about keeping a good flow of work.

Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: I'm usually in the second floor hot-desk space, or by the teapot. I'm in three days a week now, hopefully going back to full time soon.


Q: What is something we don’t know? (Either about you, or something else)

A: I've been practicing Tai Chi for four or five years. The funny thing about this art is that I still feel like a beginner, but it's become a huge part of my life, and something I depend on to stay balanced and sane.

Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems!

A: Interlaken Park: I think Tom from Seattle Bike Blog was joking when he said cycling through here extends your life by a week, but he was definitely onto something...

The Panama Tea House, for the atmosphere and the instant calm when I walk through those doors.

Vito's for the feeling that walking through their long entryway is also a walk back in time 50 years.

It's hard to pick just three!


Contact Eldan at [email protected] .