Categories
Personal & Volunteer Portfolio

Queer Silicon Valley: LGBTQ+ History Digital Exhibit

Freelance project working with a small team to organize an online history website about area queer communities over the last 50 years.

Screenshot of QueerSiliconValley.org homepage
QueerSiliconValley.org homepage shows some of the 17 topical categories offered.

I was hired as an independent contractor to support the development and launch of a local history website. Originally intended as an in-person exhibit, QueerSiliconValley.org, a website documenting the history and culture of LGBTQ+ communities in and around Santa Clara County, California, was developed and launched in the summer and fall of 2020. Ken Yeager, BAYMEC Community Foundation’s Executive Director, spearheaded the effort and hired a small team of SJSU students to assist. Yeager’s “garage full of stuff” and a shared Google Drive was nowhere near exhibit-ready when we started. My role included project coordination, content wrangling, and helping set up the website.

Planning and communication via email alone quickly became untenable. During the early task breakdown phase, my teammates and I used a project management tool to assign and prioritize actions and research, but without the buy-in of our lead, the tool was abandoned to more lightweight methods. Part of the problem was that our lead would routinely communicate different requests and concerns to individual team members. To ensure the team was communicating those updates with each other, we established a private group chat, and I maintained a list of tasks related to whatever piece(s) of the project were active at a given time, along with who was responsible for them. I would also send an email as needed with this list as a status update. Team rapport was built via chat and Zoom meetings and was critical not only to our success, but social support during a sometimes-difficult process.

Each element of the project had its own tasking system, usually in Google Sheets, for managing notes, metadata, and status. This process became even more critical once the project hired a developer to build a custom WordPress site for us, meaning we had very specific content structure requirements to meet, as well as a needing a central place to note, report, and manage bugs and requests.

Throughout the project, I advocated for language and content changes to ensure the site was as inclusive as possible, such as including a content warning before stories involving violence (approved). I also helped the team learn some of the tech tools we used by creating a WordPress tips and tricks document and personally training our lead on how to navigate the site’s admin tools. I created a style guide, worked with our website developer to take ownership of several front-end display issues and fixes, and supported outreach and marketing efforts by creating slides, a media coverage page, and a ‘social sharing’ category. I did not stick to the letter of the project brief–if such a brief ever existed–and routinely offered suggestions and found ways to make things work.

Although I have not been actively involved the website management since December 2020, I know that new content being added has a clear place and format thanks to my efforts, and the team is empowered to carry out the work. Furthermore, the organizational systems I helped put in place set Ken Yeager and the History San Jose team up for success with an in-person exhibit opening mid-2021. It was by no means a perfect process–what is?–but having access to a variety of management theories and ideas meant I had ample tools to deploy as needed to keep things moving.

QueerSiliconValley.org website/online exhibit

Categories
iSchool Portfolio

Cultural Timeline

Open in new tab

Asked to create a timeline on a humanities-related topic of our choosing for a Fall 2020 Digital Humanities course, I selected gender nonconformity in pop culture, a somewhat broad and tricky topic as the terminology and understanding of gender identity outside the binary is an evolving one, especially as it concerns culture and media. The resulting interactive object includes a selection of some–but certainly not all–instances of how these identities have been represented since the 1800s or so, along with brief analysis and commentary on those representations. Featured in the iSchool’s Student Showcase.

A complete reference list follows.

Media List

Bayer, J. (2019, April 3). Prince “Symbol” [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/23401011@N03/40565825163

Classic_Movie_Gals. (2008, June 12). Marlene Dietrich in Seven Sinners (1940) [Movie still]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/27534776@N07/2574399770

Drümmkopf. (2007, July 2). Left hand of darkness [Photograph]. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/30453880@N04/4171543007

Hipp, M. (2012, May 20). Angry Inch – Hedwig & the Angry Inch [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWI6E8gdBzk

JasonOnEarth. (2007, August 1). Star Trek: TNG – “The Outcast” – ‘I Am Tired of Lies’ Scene [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMqGlSjAbwA

JonSnow. (2011, June 21). Pink Flamingos, live homicide [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bHKJt8beCI

Loose Women. (2017, June 30). Eddie Izzard on Why It Was Important for Him to Come Out | Loose Women [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2rYR0n5zTQ

Movieclips Classic Trailers. (2019, August 2). Boys Don’t Cry (1999) Trailer #1 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar9wGSd7KVQ

Ramirez, S. [@therealsararamirez]. (2020, August 27). New profile pic. In me is the capacity to be Girlish boy Boyish girl Boyish boy Girlish girl All Neither [Photograph]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CEZak3AHwjG/

RuPaul’s Drag Race. (2020, October 8). Every Miss Congeniality’s Entrance (Compilation) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CalCAwLOJYo

Saturday Night Live. (2013, October 14). Pat at the Office [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYkjXMpKBBQ

STAT CHILE. (2016, January 8). Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (1978) HD [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ifr13Upytb4

Steven Universe. (2017, November 22). Stevonnie Run Into Trouble At A Dance Party | Alone Together | Cartoon Network [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEELKp3jLd4

Unknown. (n.d.) Mathilde “Missy” de Morny [Photograph]. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mathilde_%E2%80%9CMissy%E2%80%9D_de_Morny.jpg

References

Amin, K. (2013). Ghosting transgender historicity in Colette’s The Pure and the Impure. L’Esprit Créateur, 53(1), 114–130. https://doi.org/10.1353/esp.2013.0012

Anders, C. J. (2019, February 25). Exploring the genius of Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. Tor.com. https://www.tor.com/2019/02/25/unlocking-the-full-brilliance-of-ursula-le-guins-hainish-cycle/

Anderson, R. (2013). Fabulous: Sylvester James, black queer afrofuturism and the black fantastic. Dancecult, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.12801/1947-5403.2013.05.02.15

Arroyo, B. (2014). Sexualizing the transgendered body in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Boys Don’t Cry. Textual Overtures, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.14078

Avilez, G. (2019). Uncertain freedom: RuPaul, Sylvester, and black queer contingency. The Black Scholar, 49(2), 50–64. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.2019.1581978

Brodeur, N. (2020, January 31). When your signature ‘SNL’ character isn’t funny anymore: Julia Sweeney revisits Pat. Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/when-your-signature-snl-character-isnt-funny-anymore-julia-sweeney-revisits-pat/

Butler, J. (1999). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Chambers, B. (2018, September 10). How The Left Hand of Darkness changed everything. LiteraryHub. https://lithub.com/how-the-left-hand-of-darkness-changed-everything/

Conway, J. J. (2012, June 29). Dress-down Friday: Mathilde de Morny. Strange Flowers. https://strangeflowers.wordpress.com/2012/06/29/dress-down-friday-mathilde-de-morny/

Cooper, B. (2002). Boys Don’t Cry and female masculinity: Reclaiming a life & dismantling the politics of normative heterosexuality. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19(1), 44–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/07393180216552

Dean, L. (2020, August 10). Queer characters find power in “She-Ra” and “Steven Universe.” Bitch Media. https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/history-of-queer-representation-in-cartoons-she-ra-korra

Dry, J. (2019, December 12). As ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ joins National Film Registry, Kimberly Peirce addresses its complicated history. IndieWire. https://www.indiewire.com/2019/12/kimberly-peirce-interview-boys-dont-cry-transgender-1202196536/

Dunn, E. (2016). Steven Universe, fusion magic, and the queer cartoon carnivalesque. Gender Forum, 56. http://genderforum.org/transgender-and-the-media-issue-56-2016/

Ellsworth, M. P. (2016, April 22). Words of liberation: Prince’s lyrics and queer identity. MTV News. http://www.mtv.com/news/2871846/prince-lyrics-queer-identity/

Feder, S. (Director). (2020, June 19). Disclosure: Trans lives on screen [Documentary]. Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/81284247

Fitzgerald, T., & Marquez, L. (2020). Legendary children: The first decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the last century of queer life. Penguin Books.

Florido, H., Mitroff, K., Sugar, R. (Writers), &   Bae, K., Kim, S., Michalka, E., Jones-Quartey, I. (Directors). (2015, January 15). Alone Together (season 1, episode 37) [TV series episode]. In R. Sugar, W. Moreland, & C. Beaton (Executive Producers), Steven Universe. Cartoon Network Studios.

Gammel, I. (2012). Lacing up the gloves: Women, boxing and modernity. Cultural and Social History, 9(3), 369–390. https://doi.org/10.2752/147800412X13347542916620

Gudelunas, D. (2016). Culture jamming (and tucking): RuPaul’s Drag Race and unconventional reality. Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 1(2), 231–249. https://doi.org/10.1386/qsmpc.1.2.231_1

Hallam, L. (2010). Monster queen: The transgressive body of Divine in Pink Flamingos. Bright Lights Film Journal. https://brightlightsfilm.com/monster-queen-the-transgressive-body-of-divine-in-pink-flamingos/

Hamel, J. (2018, May 11). The Pansy Craze: When gay nightlife in Los Angeles really kicked off. KCRW. https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/curious-coast/the-pansy-craze-when-gay-nightlife-in-los-angeles-really-kicked-off

Hawkins, S. (2017). The sun, the moon and stars: Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016. Popular Music and Society, 40(1), 124–128. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2016.1245482

Kelso, T. (2015). Still trapped in the U.S. media’s closet: Representations of gender-variant, pre-adolescent children. Journal of Homosexuality, 62(8), 1058–1097. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2015.1021634

kydd, E. (1998). Star Trek: Insiders and “Outcasts.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 42, 39–44. https://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC42folder/StarTrekGender.html

Le Guin, U. K. (2010). The left hand of darkness. Ace Books.

Patterson, G., & Spencer, L. G. (2017). What’s so funny about a snowman in a tiara? Exploring gender identity and gender nonconformity in children’s animated films. Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 2(1), 73–93. https://doi.org/10.1386/qsmpc.2.1.73_1

Pidduck, J. (2001). The Boys Don’t Cry debate: Risk and queer spectatorship. Screen, 42(1), 97–102. https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/42.1.97

Poole, R. J. (2018). “Rise like two angels in the night:” Sexualized violence against queers in American film. European Journal of American Studies, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.14078

Prince. (1984, June 25). I Would Die 4 U [Song]. On Purple Rain [Album]. Warner Bros. Records.

Richards, J. (2016, October 19). Do we need to time warp again? Queer identity and the problems with the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Bitch Media. https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/do-we-need-time-warp-again/queer-identity-and-problems-rocky-horror-picture-show

Schmidt, T. (2010). “Being cool about it”: Performing gender with Eddie Izzard. Gender Forum, 29, 20–30. http://genderforum.org/private-i-public-eye-issue-29-2010/

Schoellkopf, C. (2017, June 13). Eddie Izzard reflects on coming out as transgender, why Caitlyn Jenner is a role model. The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/bookmark/eddie-izzard-reflects-coming-as-transgender-why-caitlyn-jenner-is-a-role-model-1012926

Song, L., & Tan, C. K. K. (2020). The final frontier: Imagining queer futurity in Star Trek. Continuum, 34(4), 577–589. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2020.1750564

Taylor, J. (Writer) & Scheerer, R. (Director). (1992, March 16). The Outcast (season 5, episode 17) [TV series episode]. In M. Piller, G. Roddenberry, & R. Berman (Executive Producers), Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Television.

The Matrix is a “trans metaphor”, Lilly Wachowski says. (2020, August 7). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53692435

Whiteneir, K. T. (2019). Dig if you will the picture: Prince’s subversion of hegemonic black masculinity, and the fallacy of racial transcendence. Howard Journal of Communications, 30(2), 129–143. https://doi.org/10.1080/10646175.2018.1536566

McEnany, A., Mason, T., Wachowski, L., Adler, J., Berns, A., Hernandez, T., Mattis, L., & Sweeney, J. (Executive Producers). (2019-present). Work in progress [TV series]. Circle of Confusion; Showtime Networks.

Young, E. (2019). They/them/their: A guide to nonbinary and genderqueer identities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Categories
None

Saturday Night Live Videos

Created relevant search features to highlight licensed SNL video content.

Screenshot of video result for the famous "More Cowbell" SNL sketch
Saturday Night Live on Yahoo Screen – mapping keywords to vast back catalog of sketches and video collections (No longer live due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

Ask

Yahoo Screen was planning to release a massive catalog of Saturday Night Live clips, spanning the series entire run. I was approached to create relevant search features to highlight the licensed content.

Process

I was given a list of video collections–recurring characters, hosts, themes, etc.–and an enormous spreadsheet containing video metadata for every single item in the catalog. My task: organize this data into discrete sets of keywords to bring up the precise, relevant video result or carousel of results, and investigate existing search coverage of SNL to ensure we cover those videos.

In addition to creating basic query patterns for such a huge catalog, I was able to have some fun creating aliases for the more popular videos, such as “needs more cowbell.” Specific clips and characters were likely to appear in search logs shortly after new episodes aired, so I planned to monitor dashboards in order to add new videos and keywords Sunday mornings.

Result

I turned around a huge list of keywords in a matter of days so the search experience launched at the same time as the Screen content. Post-launch, I trained a teammate how to look up video IDs and identify relevant query patterns so we could take advantage of the unique, timely spikes that only SNL had.

Categories
None

Niche “Knowledge Graph” Reference Features

Development of low-coverage search experiences for information about trees, food, planets, etc.

Screenshot of search result knowledge graph for a valley oak tree
Tree knowledge graph with growing information extracted from Calpoly’s website and images via Flickr Creative Commons APIs (no longer live)

Ask
Search leadership asked our editorial team to identify and develop “low hanging fruit” reference-type content as part of a competitive parity initiative. In some cases, we took content that had already been curated for standard search features and turned it into expanded right-side “Knowledge Graph”-style elements.

Process
For existing content, this was effectively a UX or template migration: the content was there, it just needed to be moved to a different format. Trees and food nutrition facts were two good examples. The only trick was that the images already curated weren’t large or high quality enough to serve as a large “hero”-type banner image, so I took advantage of Yahoo subsidiary, Flickr, which has a search-based API that let us serve only Creative Commons-licensed user images.

Result
Though these efforts did not represent high-volume queries, the effort did not go unnoticed by leadership, and it also served as an opportunity for less experienced team members to build their skills and flex creative muscle.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Data-Driven Feature Generation: Earthquakes

Used USGS API to directly answer variety of query patterns looking for recent earthquake information.

Screenshot of search result for recent earthquakes near Oklahoma
Recent earthquakes via USGS API with location-specific keywords and results

https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=latest+earthquakes

Ask
My team, a UX/editorial group that worked with Yahoo’s search content management platform was broadly tasked with generating and working on ideas for new search features. One method of doing this was to browse government developer sites for APIs and structured data that might map to valuable search user needs. That’s how I learned about the United States Geological Service’s “latest earthquakes” API.

Process
First, I wanted to determine how often people search for earthquake information, and how they formulate such queries. Once internal analytics tools validated that there was sufficient search volume to proceed, I used a tool that let me pull queries by URL–that is, I got a report containing search queries that resulted in a web result click anywhere on the “earthquake.usgs.gov” domain. I classified these queries as “earthquake data intent” and “not earthquake data intent,” and further by patterns like “6.2 earthquake,” “earthquake in Japan,” and “latest LA earthquakes.”

Once I identified the main earthquake-intent patterns, I needed to determine how best to handle location information. Because the USGS API supported location by both a radius around a single point (appropriate queries containing a city name) and a bounding box with minimum and maximum latitude and longitude (worked for countries and regions), I created a list of popular locations for which bounding box location was more useful than a radius and let a global location list handle everything else.

Finally, the UX proved trickier than hoped. Initially I hoped to include a map component, which was supported in our tool, but a front end bug prevented it from rendering correctly, so I worked with a designer to massage a text-only table into an appealing result that presented all the relevant information. (Because the bug did not appear for any high-priority features, the engineering time was unable to devote time to fixing it.)

Result
Earthquakes represented an interesting use case for location handling. The search feature routinely spiked any time the earth moved and appeared alongside news headlines.

Categories
None

Community Season 6 on Yahoo Screen

Created rich search experiences to feature Yahoo Screen originals alongside knowledge graph.

Screenshot of Yahoo Search results for the TV series "Community" including season 6 episodes streaming on Yahoo Screen
Community Season 6 – featured Yahoo Screen video content + keyword list cultivation for TV series knowledge graph (no longer active due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

When Yahoo Screen made its foray into full-length original TV series with Community and others, we were ready to go in search. I made sure that the latest episodes carousel had excellent coverage and TV Series Knowledge Graph contained accurate, detailed profiles.

Meanwhile…

Photo of Emily with actor Gillian Jacobs when the latter visited Yahoo in Sunnyvale
Grabbed a selfie with Gillian Jacobs

Categories
None

Yahoo Original Video Content

Keyword mapping and search placement for curated original video content.

Screenshot of an inline video player search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Yahoo News original documentary – full video played inline on top of search results
Screenshot of a video search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Smaller version among search results for alternative keywords
(no longer live)

Ask

Yahoo’s video site, Screen, hosted a wide variety of original content over the years, and they periodically asked for this content to appear in search results.

Process

Over the years, I built a relationship with contacts working on Yahoo’s video properties to support their efforts to receive views via relevant search traffic. While at first these appeared in search only as enhanced hyperlinks, eventually the search front-end team implemented an inline player functionality so we could embed Yahoo original content and other videos directly on a search results page. I created an expandable search feature that allowed me to respond quickly to the video team’s requests and generate appropriate keyword lists.

Result

Teams throughout Yahoo knew they could rely on Search to support their efforts to promote premium original content on-network without using significant resources per request.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Competitive UX & Content: Knowledge Graphs

As part of an ongoing competitor parity initiative, I collaborated with product owners, designers, engineers, and others in the Search Editorial team to create new “knowledge graph”-type experiences and enhance existing ones. I made use of internal databases and curated content sources as needed to meet user and business needs in a variety of areas, including TV, elections, and reference.

Planning and deployment of election-related search experiences to lead users to reliable information on commonly searched queries.

Ask

I was approached by search product teams working on distinct experiences around the then-upcoming 2016 U.S. primary election to offer feedback on proposed designs and organize editorial efforts in content curation and quality validation.

Process

  1. Led team effort to develop detailed list of potential features along with timeline, content source(s), and priority. Features based on team knowledge and real user search data/query patterns.
  2. Researched content sources for features that would be relevant in early 2016 (general politics, candidate research). Key requirements included high-quality, politically neutral data; structured in a way that was compatible with our content management platform; served in XML or JSON format or able to be extracted and converted to usable form.
  3. Joined product team meetings to give updates on content development and share feedback on whether design matched real content and user needs.
  4. Created and launched experiences on web search and provided support for other platforms using our work.

Result

By February 2016, we launched several features on web search:

  • Presidential candidate knowledge graph, incorporating party affiliation, donation data from OpenSecrets.org, polling data, and political office history.
  • Latest quotes with “truthfulness” rating from Politifact for all presidential candidates.
  • Candidate stances on 20+ key political issues extracted from ProCon.org with manually curated browse element to help search users explore candidate opinions.
  • Political cartoon of the day.

Additionally, detailed requirements for election results and future election experience ideas were documented.

Expanded on basic series-level profile to include better coverage of streaming availability at series, season, and episode levels.

Screenshot of search results for the TV series Survivor, featuring TV knowledge graph (right) and episode detail with streaming links (top left)
TV series knowledge graph with latest episodes and streaming links – clicks on the right bring up episode details and links to stream on the left.

https://search.yahoo.com/search?p=survivor (still live in some form, but without all the features noted here)
Screenshot of TV season search feature for the series Survivor, season 26, including description and episode list
Also created season details experience (no longer functional).

Ask

The Knowledge Graph team wanted to develop major feature improvements to entity profiles around People, Movies, and TV Series with competitor parity as a goal. As a TV enthusiast, I volunteered to support TV Series profile enhancements.

Process

Because I was responsible for the migration of the existing TV series experience into our content management platform, I was well-acquainted with the data elements and quality we already had and could create a clear list of requirements to replace and significantly improve. I was also able to compare this with elements found in design mocks created for the effort. Initially, the planned design did not account for the quality of images available in our database, so I was able to leverage my experience to strike a balance between design requirements and content realities. I was responsible for UX copy including data labels and headers.

After the experience had been live for a time, I learned that our Knowledge Graph database now included content I believed to be valuable to search users: streaming links. While competitors already offered this information, they focused on a la carte options and not popular subscription services, where many series could already be found. I sought and received buy-in from product owners to pursue major changes to the TV series experience.

Streaming links were stored at the episode level, not series or even season, but our keyword list was manually generated, but I found a scalable way to serve episode-level links without manually curating triggering lists covering thousands of individual episodes. I also used this data to identify whether a series could be found on the streaming sites Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and if so, to construct a series-level link.

The Knowledge Graph team also wanted to perform a quality audit of their data for several key topics. I served as the lead for TV Series, creating a finite list of elements to review and guidelines for assessing quality, moderating discussion, and authoring a report on the results.

Result

TV Series in web search results went from a very basic snapshot of title, synopsis, network, logo image, and cast to an interactive set of features including the same key base content as well as episodes, seasons, air dates, and streaming links.

While these solutions were not necessarily an ideal user experience, they allowed users to easily click and find information they might want without too much effort.

The results of the quality audit were used to develop systemic improvements to the way they merge and manage data sources.

Development of low-coverage search experiences for information about trees, food, planets, etc.

Screenshot of search result knowledge graph for a valley oak tree
Tree knowledge graph with growing information extracted from Calpoly’s website and images via Flickr Creative Commons APIs (no longer live)

Ask
Search leadership asked our editorial team to identify and develop “low hanging fruit” reference-type content as part of a competitive parity initiative. In some cases, we took content that had already been curated for standard search features and turned it into expanded right-side “Knowledge Graph”-style elements.

Process
For existing content, this was effectively a UX or template migration: the content was there, it just needed to be moved to a different format. Trees and food nutrition facts were two good examples. The only trick was that the images already curated weren’t large or high quality enough to serve as a large “hero”-type banner image, so I took advantage of Yahoo subsidiary, Flickr, which has a search-based API that let us serve only Creative Commons-licensed user images.

Result
Though these efforts did not represent high-volume queries, the effort did not go unnoticed by leadership, and it also served as an opportunity for less experienced team members to build their skills and flex creative muscle.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Yahoo Verticals & Media in Search

Keyword mapping and search placement for curated original video content.

Screenshot of an inline video player search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Yahoo News original documentary – full video played inline on top of search results
Screenshot of a video search result for a Yahoo News documentary titled "Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays"
Smaller version among search results for alternative keywords
(no longer live)

Ask

Yahoo’s video site, Screen, hosted a wide variety of original content over the years, and they periodically asked for this content to appear in search results.

Process

Over the years, I built a relationship with contacts working on Yahoo’s video properties to support their efforts to receive views via relevant search traffic. While at first these appeared in search only as enhanced hyperlinks, eventually the search front-end team implemented an inline player functionality so we could embed Yahoo original content and other videos directly on a search results page. I created an expandable search feature that allowed me to respond quickly to the video team’s requests and generate appropriate keyword lists.

Result

Teams throughout Yahoo knew they could rely on Search to support their efforts to promote premium original content on-network without using significant resources per request.

Built special “vertical search” feature to support new property launches and reduce maintenance.

Screenshot of a Yahoo Tech vertical search result for writer David Pogue
Vertical search experience embedded in web search results – set up in support of Yahoo’s Digital Magazines strategy (Tech, Style, Movies, etc.)

Ask

Yahoo launched several new media verticals called “Magazines” and did not migrate any corresponding vertical search experiences, which were based on an older platform. Instead, a search product manager was tasked with adding vertical content to web search, filtered according to the user’s site of origin, and they enlisted my support to create and launch the necessary features in our search content management platform.

Process

Each query sent from a search box included more than just the user’s query–it contained referral information, usually unique to the property or even page. I used this information to determine when a search experience should appear, as well as pass variables to a backend. The news backend, which indexed news from hundreds of sources worldwide, including Yahoo’s own sites, could return articles matching any query, filtered by property and sorted by freshness.

Expanding on a template design already in use for news results in general web search, I created a “vertical search” feature that included up to 10 results with thumbnails for each and paginated results if there were more than 10 stories matching a given query. This large search feature appeared on top of the usual web algorithmic links and any other non-monetized search features.

Product owners also asked for Magazine stories to be highlighted in web search results (in a less aggressive form, of course). I created simple “navigational” features with a max of 3 stories to appear on searches by Magazine name and featured writers to satisfy their primary need. Because Magazine stories were indexed along with all news content, these stories could appear in regular news search results without any extra effort.

“Emily always brings a number of ideas and potential solutions to a problem, but will back them up with execution reliably, quickly, and self-sufficiently, and manages dependencies deftly and efficiently. When tasked to launch international Magazine Search in Q4, Emily took the lead, coordinating with int’l editorial leads, offering assistance where necessary, and following up to ensure completion, ensuring the appropriate Product approvals (from me) and transparency of communication. The task was completed successfully, quickly, and helped ensure a Green rating on that quarterly goal.”

Product Manager, Vertical Search

Result

No-maintenance, low-effort vertical search launched on all new Magazines. Sites and big-name authors were effectively promoted in web search.

Created rich search experiences to feature Yahoo Screen originals alongside knowledge graph.

Screenshot of Yahoo Search results for the TV series "Community" including season 6 episodes streaming on Yahoo Screen
Community Season 6 – featured Yahoo Screen video content + keyword list cultivation for TV series knowledge graph (no longer active due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

When Yahoo Screen made its foray into full-length original TV series with Community and others, we were ready to go in search. I made sure that the latest episodes carousel had excellent coverage and TV Series Knowledge Graph contained accurate, detailed profiles.

Meanwhile…

Photo of Emily with actor Gillian Jacobs when the latter visited Yahoo in Sunnyvale
Grabbed a selfie with Gillian Jacobs

Created relevant search features to highlight licensed SNL video content.

Screenshot of video result for the famous "More Cowbell" SNL sketch
Saturday Night Live on Yahoo Screen – mapping keywords to vast back catalog of sketches and video collections (No longer live due to deprecation of Yahoo Screen)

Ask

Yahoo Screen was planning to release a massive catalog of Saturday Night Live clips, spanning the series entire run. I was approached to create relevant search features to highlight the licensed content.

Process

I was given a list of video collections–recurring characters, hosts, themes, etc.–and an enormous spreadsheet containing video metadata for every single item in the catalog. My task: organize this data into discrete sets of keywords to bring up the precise, relevant video result or carousel of results, and investigate existing search coverage of SNL to ensure we cover those videos.

In addition to creating basic query patterns for such a huge catalog, I was able to have some fun creating aliases for the more popular videos, such as “needs more cowbell.” Specific clips and characters were likely to appear in search logs shortly after new episodes aired, so I planned to monitor dashboards in order to add new videos and keywords Sunday mornings.

Result

I turned around a huge list of keywords in a matter of days so the search experience launched at the same time as the Screen content. Post-launch, I trained a teammate how to look up video IDs and identify relevant query patterns so we could take advantage of the unique, timely spikes that only SNL had.

Categories
None

2016 U.S. Primary Election search features

Planning and deployment of election-related search experiences to lead users to reliable information on commonly searched queries.

Ask

I was approached by search product teams working on distinct experiences around the then-upcoming 2016 U.S. primary election to offer feedback on proposed designs and organize editorial efforts in content curation and quality validation.

Process

  1. Led team effort to develop detailed list of potential features along with timeline, content source(s), and priority. Features based on team knowledge and real user search data/query patterns.
  2. Researched content sources for features that would be relevant in early 2016 (general politics, candidate research). Key requirements included high-quality, politically neutral data; structured in a way that was compatible with our content management platform; served in XML or JSON format or able to be extracted and converted to usable form.
  3. Joined product team meetings to give updates on content development and share feedback on whether design matched real content and user needs.
  4. Created and launched experiences on web search and provided support for other platforms using our work.

Result

By February 2016, we launched several features on web search:

  • Presidential candidate knowledge graph, incorporating party affiliation, donation data from OpenSecrets.org, polling data, and political office history.
  • Latest quotes with “truthfulness” rating from Politifact for all presidential candidates.
  • Candidate stances on 20+ key political issues extracted from ProCon.org with manually curated browse element to help search users explore candidate opinions.
  • Political cartoon of the day.

Additionally, detailed requirements for election results and future election experience ideas were documented.

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Mashable: Yahoo Releases Top Searches of 2009

Using analytics tools unique to Yahoo’s mobile search platform at that time, I pulled monthly per-query volume data, compiled it, and created a list of “top 10″ mobile searches for the year.

Yahoo Releases Top Searches of 2009 (Mashable)

Categories
Portfolio Yahoo

Global Project Coordination: 2012 London Olympics

Ask
Search leadership wanted to take advantage of our then-new content management platform to release a complete suite of Olympics results features in each of 12 key markets, including the Arabic language site Maktoob. As an editorial leader and tool expert, I was tapped to organize the global team in this complex, ambitious effort.

Process
While the search front-end engineering team developed templates designed specifically for the Olympics–the first time our platform was used for an important tentpole experience–our editorial team organized into content/query experts and technical builders capable of wrangling backend data and tricky template mapping. I oversaw these efforts and maintained detailed tracking of efforts on a per-market basis.

In lieu of engineering-heavy front-end localization, I created an editorially-driven “localization” data source that was easy to use in the content management platform and simple for the global team to input and update specific text strings for UX copy. This made it easier to build centralized featured and simultaneously deploy in almost every market.

Keyword creation was an immense undertaking: we built whitelists of thousands of athlete names and variations (including event and country); numerous patterns were developed to address results by event/sport and country.

I was responsible for keeping stakeholders up to date, ensuring all delegated work was completed in time, supporting pre-launch QA, and understanding how it all worked well enough to address bugs and concerns as they arose.

Result
Our successful global Olympics experience demonstrated the power of the content management platform and the non-technical editors who worked with it. It also highlighted ways to improve the process to reduce engineering overhead and make even more complexity and customization possible.

For Olympic Medal Count Info, Yahoo Gets Gold, Google Silver & Bing Bronze (Search Engine Land)