Aaron Straup Cope

Email: resume@aaronstraupcope.com
URL: http://www.aaronstraupcope.com/

Professional Objective

I have worked at Flickr [1] helping to build and nuture the beautiful monster that it became, made pretty maps at Stamen Design [2] , re-opened the Smithsonian Design Museum [3] re-imagining what it means for a museum to hold hands with the Internet and most recently built a high-quality, openly-licensed gazetteer of all the places [4] in the world at Mapzen [5] .

The promise of the Internet is to be a bridge for cross-pollinating peoples, ideas and communities. I am looking for opportunities to design and build the tools that will continue to realize the idea of the network as a public good.

Core Competencies

Programming: Go, Python, PHP, JavaScript, Perl, Java (sort of).

System administration: BSD/Linux, Apache/nginx, Elasticsearch/Solr, MySQL/Postgres, PostGIS, AWS (in as much as anyone can wrap their head around the scale of AWS...).

Languages: English, French.

Employment History

Creator, Architect and Head of Engineering for Who's On First (WOF)
Mapzen [5] (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.)
June 2015-December 2017

Creator, Architect and Head of Engineering for Who's On First (WOF), an openly licensed gazetteer of all the places and all their metadata in the world, ranging from continents to neighbourhoods and venues. WOF was published as a public resource and a series of API-based services and used internally by a variety of Mapzen services including Search (geocoding) and Tiles.

The goal of WOF is to provide high-quality and openly licensed location data with global coverage specifically designed for use with a broad range of applications, datastores and programming languages, while ensuring long-term durability and portability of both the data and the services.

In January 2018, Mapzen announced that it would cease operations. WOF continues to operate [6] as a community-driven open-data and open-source project at whosonfirst.org [4] . All of the data and source code continues to be developed and distributed through the whosonfirst-data [7] and whosonfirst [8] GitHub organizations, respectively.

To date approximately 60, 000 words of theory and practice [9] have been written about the project on the Who's On First weblog. A good introduction is the 2016 talk titled Mapping With Bias [10] and a detailed discussion of the project's goals and motivations is the 2015 blog post Who's On First [11] .


Head of Engineering, Digital and Emerging Media
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum [18] (New York City, New York, U.S.A.)
July 2012-May 2015

Head of engineering and technical architect for all public facing and internal digital initiatives related to the re-opening of the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in 2015. This work was documented in The Atlantic magazine's 2015 The Museum of the Future Is Here [19] profile and culminated with The Pen [20] an NFC-enabled stylus, custom designed and manufactured by the museum, given to every museum visitor.

The Pen allows visitors to collect objects on display and retrieve them post-visit as well as produce new works on multi-user interactive tables located through the museum. It works in concert with purpose-built API designed and maintained by the museum and enables both internal and third-party in-gallery experiences. Launched in March of 2015, The Pen has been in continuous use since then. As of January 2018 [21] it has been given out to 350, 000 visitors; used to collect objects 14 million times; and used to create over 300, 000 designs.

The technical, manufacturing and institutional challenges (and successes) that were prompted The Pen are discussed at length in Strategies against architecture: interactive media and transformative technology at Cooper Hewitt [22] , a formal paper presented at the 2015 Museums and the Web conference and The Pendulum of Bespokiness [23] , a presentation delivered at the 2016 Bosch Connected Experience conference.


Internet Typist (and general layabout)
(San Francisco, California, U.S.A.)
January 2012-July 2012

Combination self-employed and self-imposed sabbatical spent implementing and investigating the practice of archiving and of running shadow copies of popular social networking websites.


Design Technologist
Stamen Design [2] (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.)

Senior developer responsible for taming source data and designing and implementing technical systems for a wide variety of clients and research projects. Also, maps.


Lead Engineer
Flickr [39] (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.)

Lead engineer for the Flickr [39] photo sharing/management web application; designed, implemented and maintained the geotagging and machinetag infrastructure; primary contact for security issues; primary contact for integration projects with its parent company Yahoo!.


Personal projects and activities

Public speaking

I have been speaking publicly since 2007 [45] on a variety of personal and work-related subjects including Flickr, maps and cultural heritage. I am a frequent speaker at the Museums and the Web [46] , Openstreetmap State of the Map [47] and NACIS [48] conferences.

A complete list of talks is available at https://www.aaronland.info/talks [49]


go-iiif [50] is a fork of the iiif [51] package that moves all of the processing logic for the IIIF Image API [52] in to discrete Go packages and defines source, derivative and graphics details in a JSON config file. There is an additional caching layer for both source images and derivatives.

Brooklyn Integers

Artisanal Integers as a service [53] . A very elaborate joke, but a useful one. The canonical text on artisanal integers is the time pixels [54] keynote from the 2012 New Zealand National Digital Forum [55] but a more approachable introduction is neverendingbook.org's artisanal integers [56] .

prettymaps, Talk To Me exhibition (MoMA)

In 2011, the prettymaps project was included [57] in the Museum of Modern Art's Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects [58] exhibition, in New York City. This was very exciting.

Advisory Board, Built Works Registry

In 2011 I was invited to be a member of the advisory board for the Built Works Registry [59] , a joint endeavor of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, ARTstor and Getty Research Institute funded by a three-year National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

prettymaps, 20x200 prints

Starting in 2010, the prettymaps project was selected by the 20x200 [60] project for a series of limited-edition prints. To date editions for ten cities [61] have been printed.

The Papernet

The Papernet [62] is the name for an on-going investigation of how and why and where to bridge the digital and analog world. It was first introduced at the 2007 XTech conference, in Paris.

Aaron's New York Times Widgets

Tools, and visualizations, for data-mining the New York Times. [63] This project was stopped with the introduction of the New York Time's "pay-wall".

The Mirror Project

The Mirror Project [64] was one of the earliest community-driven photo-sharing websites to promote built to encourage and showcase "adventures in reflective surfaces". In a world before selfies...




Code samples and current projects are available for review on the @straup [76] and @thisisaaronland [77] GitHub accounts and the @whosonfirst [8] GitHub organization.

I have been maintaining a personal weblog since 1999. [78]

This document is available in the following formats : Plain-text [79] , HTML [80] , PDF [81] and XML [82] . The code used to generate these documents is available as open source software [83] .


Available upon request.

External links

Last modified 02 January 2018.