kingLingo at the Disco

John was born in Jamaica in 1959, where he was raised by his aunt until he reunited with his parents at age 5 in Essex, England. When John turned 12, the family relocated to Brooklyn, New York where school became a major focal point for him and his brother. He understood that when his mother was the only parent present at a teacher-parent conference in junior high school that she went out of her way to set him on the right path.

“She encouraged me to excel in school and taught me that education is a stepping-stone to financial and creative independence.” John recalls of his mother, Mabel.

As a teenager, John was already becoming a little scholar, receiving a New York State regents scholarship and attending the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. There he became so obsessed with learning computer languages that he would skip lunch period to study in the school’s computer lab. Naturally, John accepted a full scholarship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in computer science.

It was at MIT that John would flex his first creative independence. John’s minor in visual arts and design convinced him to put his computer science degree on hold to study drawing and painting at The Art Students League of New York for a year. Inspired by the experience, he returned to MIT to finish his bachelor of science degree in computer science and engineering with a minor in visual arts and design.

“I want to make it easy for people to use the computer as an expressive instrument, and to inspire people to learn about themselves and the world.” Testimonial on John’s website.

In 1987, John’s newfound ambition to mesh art and computer science together led him to work for Macromedia, a once-upon-a-time arche-rival to media software giant Adobe. At Macromedia, he is credited for developing various media design software, but most importantly he created Lingo for Macromedia Director. Lingo, at the time was the most widely-used computer programming language in interactive media, and was used to create anything from videos, interactive presentations, or even video games that could be played on an internet browser.

John’s blended study of art and computer science is now manifested by his latest app DICE (Distributed Instruments for Computed Expression). His hope is that DICE will be a platform that helps users explore art, education, and computer science. As an artist, John has created art using 3D graphics, video disc, and real-time video processing, and have had interactive art installations that have been exhibited internationally.

Visit Thinking Cap for more stories and resources.

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