Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Kate Compton

Kate Compton

Artist, inventor

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an inventor, artist, and PhD student at UC Santa Cruz, go banana slugs! I worked in the games industry for 5 years, at Maxis, making algorithms to design the planets on Spore, and scripting the fire system on the latest SimCity. I went back to grad school to get my PhD in Computer Science with the Expressive Intelligence Studio, a group of interdisciplinary artificial intelligence researchers using AI for expressive purposes, like digital characters and interactive art. At the same time, I founded Seebright, a startup for the phone-based VR/AR headset that I'd invented (as far as I know, I was the first to use phones for VR!)

I'm most recently well-known for popularizing and educating people about procedural content generation in games and generative methods in many fields, with blog posts and GDC talks, and developing the popular newbie-friendly text-generation language Tracery. I also make a lot of strange generative works of my own, including several Twitter bots.

What hardware do you use?

I use a 2015 MacBook Pro and the ultra-light 2016 Macbook for travel. But many of my art installations use very unusual interfaces and a wide range of hardware toys, like Laser Pico projections on styrofoam heads, a projection on a spandex screen with a Kinect interface, a Leap Motion controlling a wall-sized projection, and most recently, a slime-filled balloon and an Arduino.

And what software?

I use JavaScript almost exclusively now, after years of Java. There are so many good libraries! I use Sublime, Transmit, and after some dissatisfaction with LightPaper, I'm writing my own text editor for my dissertation work.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I have my dream setup! Lots of oddball toys at home, plus my lightweight laptop for easy travel when backpacking between conferences. I would dearly love a big workshop with a laser-cutter and a CNC machine, though.