jeweled platypus



my face

I live in San Francisco, and I grew up in Los Angeles. My email address is, and I’m @brittagus.

This blog is mostly about making art and learning about architecture, infrastructure, local history, and places.

What I’m up to

Since September 2015, I work for 18F, a consulting group within and for the US federal government. I’m on the content team, which does a mix of content strategy, writing, and editing. A few years ago I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d work for the government, but it makes perfect sense for me and I’m delighted.

I post photos of buildings to Instagram. I have lots of older photos on Flickr.

I’m a member of Double Union, a hacker/makerspace for women in San Francisco. I volunteer as a membership coordinator and lead events.

I’ve edited Wikipedia since 2001; I add photos, write articles (such as Outreachy and Pinboard), and help new editors. I also contribute to LocalWiki, including writing articles about San Francisco (favorites: Old Mission Police Station, 25th Street Telco Building, and 717 Market Street). I established the Isla Vista LocalWiki, and I run a Facebook page and editor group for it. A few of the articles I’ve written there: The three houses at the end of Del Playa, Enchanted Forest, St. Michael's University Church, Lost Murals, Counterculture Tiles, Tipi Village.

Earlier work

From 2005 to 2015, I worked as a community manager. Here’s how I explained it once:

The best thing about being a community manager is bridging the gap between people who use a project and people who work on it, helping both sides have better information—which means I help make projects better (and happier). I like that I focus on the people who use a project, talking to them, and learning what they're experiencing and asking for—it's powerful and practical to pay attention to the external face of a project.

I also enjoy the flexible range of tasks that I do as a "community manager"—support, moderation, a bit of marketing/publicity, a bit of product management, and all kinds of writing to improve things and glue them together. It's pretty creative: getting to look at the whole project/experience/community, understanding how the technical and social parts fit together, and being a person who makes connections and fills in gaps—identifying interesting problems and finding ways to solve them.

From March 2011 to September 2015, I was part of the tiny company that makes Cydia, the alternative to the App Store for jailbroken iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. My work included answering lots of questions, moderating support forums (JailbreakQA, the jailbreaking subreddit, IRC channels, and Facebook), improving documentation (in the Cydia app, iPhoneDevWiki, TheiPhoneWiki, etc.), testing software, selecting featured packages, and keeping in contact with the variety of independent people who make up the jailbreaking ecosystem (jailbreak developers, repository managers, tweak and theme makers, enthusiastic users, and more). I was lucky to work on something I care very much about, and I continue to do some volunteer work for the community.

For part of 2010 I did product and community work for Canvas. During college I was the Delicious community manager (from 2005 to 2009, part-time during the school years and full-time in the summers): I answered email and forum questions, helped problems get fixed when people complained, killed spam, wrote blog posts, and loved Delicious as one of its first users and team members.

Earlier projects

I volunteered for OpenHatch to help newcomers find their way into contributing to free and open source projects. I wrote about this in a blog post there, and my OpenHatch profile has some details. I answered questions from newcomers, wrote tweets and blog posts, filed bugs, mentored at workshops, and generally helped with communication.

A friend and I wrote a blog of math-art projects, including explorations of the rolling shutter effect, a flowing torus, and an astonishing slinky.

I used to collect Mac menubar items and make Unicode faces and holiday trees.

I have a Literature BA from the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara, with an unofficial specialization in Literature and Culture of Information. I ran the CCS Lit student club and wrote a blog about the program.

What is a jeweled platypus?

When I was 11 years old, I found this image in an issue of National Geographic Magazine and decided it looked like a jeweled platypus. I cut it out and pasted it in a binder that I soon lost, but the image stuck in my head. When I was 19, I researched the image and found out that it’s a picture of an ancient Peruvian duck earring, which confirmed its status as my favorite thing.

Tagged posts

architecture  books  community  food  geometry  infrastructure  insects  jailbreaking  losangeles  maps  memes  naturalhistory  netart  osx  plants  prettypictures  sanfrancisco  santabarbara  self  toys  transportation  typography  ucsb  webdesign  yahoo 


I’m Britta Gustafson.

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