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

I work for the United States federal government on improving its software. I’m part of the 18F team in the Technology Transformation Service of the General Services Administration, where I’m the acting deputy director of I write blog posts for 18F sometimes. I joined in September 2015; 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. In May 2016 I gave a talk about my work: technical writing as public service.

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

I’m a member of Double Union, a feminist and women-centered hacker/makerspace.

I’ve edited Wikipedia since 2001. I add photos, write articles (such as Outreachy and Pinboard), and teach new editors at editing workshops. For Wikipedia's 15th birthday in 2016, I gave a talk about why people should care about Wikipedia's early history. There is a Wikimedia community profile about me.

I also contribute to LocalWiki (and gave a talk in 2015 about why that's fun). I write articles about San Francisco sometimes, such as 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 about Isla Vista: 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 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.), organizing JailbreakCon, testing software, selecting featured packages, and coordinating 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. Here's a jailbreak podcast episode with me (summary). A few of the things I wrote as part of my work:

For part of 2010 I did product and community work for Canvas, which was a fun experiment in building a social network around remixing images.

From 2005 to 2009 I was the Delicious community manager (which was during college for me; I worked 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. This was pretty much the best first job. (After I left, Delicious got re-sold and rebuilt a few times, and I recommend now.)

Earlier projects

Friends and I ran a one-day conference about roguelike games, the Roguelike Celebration.

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 saved and tagged thousands of bookmarks from 2005-2011 or so. They were on, but they're on now.

I wrote about a few places on Findery.

I used to collect Mac menubar items. I made 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 made a portfolio of some of my work when I graduated. I ran the CCS Literature 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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