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Alumna Profile: Meagan Timney
In 2011, I made the trek from Victoria, BC to California, the home of Silicon Valley and some of the most innovative companies in the world. Three years later, I am leading the research team at Inkling (http://www.inkling.com), a digital publishing startup in San Francisco, which was recently named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies of 2014.
The transition from academia to the private sector was in some ways a natural progression. I began designing faculty websites for a number of Canadian universities in the 1990s, and had always been interested in the ways in which information can be represented in electronic forms. In my first semester of my MA at Dal, I was fortunate to take a course with Dr. Dean Irvine, a serendipitous event that would impact my career path years later. When Dr. Irvine asked his students to create a mini scholarly edition for their final project in his Canadian Editions graduate seminar, I jumped at the chance to use my web-development skills to create a digital version of Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake’s poems. The project made visible a whole new world; it was a first foray into the burgeoning field of digital humanities, and a new way of thinking about the texts that I was studying.
A few years later, as I sat in a small local archive in the basement of a church in the north of England, researching Victorian working-class women’s poetry for my doctoral thesis, a spark ignited. With the annals of Victorian history literally crumbling at my fingertips, I realized that unless this literature was preserved, it would be lost to future generations. I embarked upon a small digital edition project, a decision that lead me deeper down the rabbit hole into the world of editorial theory and publishing practices. Wanting to ensure the preservation of these texts, I began The Working-Class Women Poet’s Project, an online edition of nineteenth-century poetry written by working-class women, and a supplement to my doctoral dissertation, which I completed under the supervision of Dr. Marjorie Stone. After finishing my PhD, I was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship with Editing Modernism in Canada (EMiC), which took me to the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory at the University of Victoria. As a postdoc in the field of digital humanities, I researched and taught digital literary studies, human-computer interaction, and interface design for digital publishing platforms, and worked as the lead design technician for EMiC. I discovered my love of interaction design during my time as an EMiC postdoc and assistant professor at UViC. When my contract neared completion, I made the decision to leave academia and take a job in the private sector, setting my sights on interactive design agencies, and later, digital publishing.
I gained much needed experience working at two digital agencies—one in Victoria, and one in San Francisco—and learned the necessary practical skills for my role while on the job. I knew, inevitably, that I wanted to return to the world of editing and publishing. When the opportunity to work at Inkling presented itself, I leapt at the chance. Now, after a year and a half at Inkling, I run the company’s product research division. I spend my days speaking with customers, gathering and synthesizing qualitative and quantitative data about Inkling’s product offerings, mentoring junior members of my team, and helping to determine the product strategy and roadmap.
I remember my time at Dalhousie fondly and credit my doctoral research in the humanities with teaching me the skills that are critical for user-experience designers: research, clear communication, and the analysis and synthesis of large amounts of information. Through teaching and interacting with students I learned how to work with clients, how to run customer interviews, and how to articulate complex systems in a way that is both simple and meaningful. The practical experience that I gained through working with Dr. Irvine and EMiC, and the research skills I learned under the support and tutelage of Dr. Stone provided the necessary groundwork for success in my leadership role at Inkling.
I now live in Sausalito, California with my husband and two parrots, and when I’m not hard at work helping people create content that matters, I spend my time hiking, cycling, swimming, and lifting weights.
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