Aza Raskin (born February 1, 1984) is the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology[1] and of the Earth Species Project.[2] He is also a writer, entrepreneur, inventor, and interface designer.[3][4][5] He is the son of Jef Raskin, a human–computer interface expert who was the initiator of the Macintosh project at Apple.

Aza Raskin
Aza Raskin in 2019
Born (1984-02-01) February 1, 1984 (age 39)
California, US
EducationUniversity of Chicago (BS)
Occupation(s)interface designer, entrepreneur, writer
Parent(s)Jef Raskin, Linda S. Blum

Raskin is an advocate for the ethical use of technology, and has been critical of the effects that modern technology has on everyday lives and society.[6] In the podcast Your Undivided Attention, along with Tristan Harris, Raskin has talked extensively about the power of information technology and the dangers it potentially poses to modern society.[7] In 2019, he became a member of the World Economic Forum's Global AI Council.[8]

Raskin coined the phrase, "freedom of speech is not freedom of reach,"[9][10] which was the title of an article that he wrote with Renée DiResta.[11] The phrase is now widely used to refer to the large-scale implications of platform amplification and free speech. For example, it was publicly quoted by the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and was used by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to help explain the rationale for banning political advertisements on Twitter.[12][13]

Raskin has continued his father's work on project Archy, has worked as the head of user experience at Mozilla Labs and as lead designer for Firefox, and has founded a number of companies. He is also the inventor of the infinite scroll.[14] More recently, he has collaborated on virtual reality projects[15] and on zooming user interface (ZUI).[16]

Career edit

Personal projects edit

Aza Raskin participated in a talk with his father, Jef Raskin, on user interfaces, at age 10, at a meeting of the San Francisco chapter of the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI).[17] He holds bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Chicago.[18]

In 2004, he worked with his father at the Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces, on the development of Archy software, which is a user interface paradigm.[19] In 2005, after his father's death, he founded Humanized, Inc., where he continued working on the Archy paradigm and created the language-based, service-oriented Enso software.[20]

During the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, Raskin collaborated with a group of other entrepreneurs (including Joshua Rosen, the art director of Steven Spielberg's movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence), to create a crowdsourced website, hosted at, which turned information about the earthquake's effects, in real time, into interpretable map data. The data was used by several major non-governmental organizations who were helping on the ground in Haiti.[citation needed]

Raskin is an active phishing researcher,[21] best known for discovering[22][23] the tabnabbing[24] attack, which takes advantage of open browser tabs to launch phishing sites without the user's knowledge.

He also has a number of smaller projects, such as Algorithm Ink (based on Context Free),[25] which generates art from a formal grammar.[26]

In Wired UK magazine's series, Rebooting Britain, Raskin advocated for iterative governance, and was featured on the magazine's cover.[27] He has also given a TED talk about new humane directions for computing.[28]

Mozilla Corporation edit

In 2008, Humanized employees, including Raskin, joined the Mozilla Corporation as part of a hire-out.[29] Raskin was named head of user experience at Mozilla Labs. In 2010, Raskin was appointed to the position of creative lead for Firefox.[30][18] He has worked on several labs projects, including Ubiquity[31] and Firefox for mobile,[32] and he wrote the original specification for the geolocation application programming interface (API).[33]

In 2010, Raskin introduced Tab Candy—the result of his work on the Firefox team at Mozilla. By organizing tabs spatially, Tab Candy allowed the user to "organize browsing, to see all of our tabs at once, and focus on the task at hand".[34]

Computerworld called Tab Candy's initial design and alpha release "the best new browser feature since tabs were invented".[35] Tab Candy—renamed Firefox Panorama—was incorporated into the initial Firefox 4 release (as a hidden default), but it was later removed from the default Firefox package and converted to an add-on.[36]

Startups edit

Raskin has founded two other companies besides Humanized, including Songza, a music meta-search tool, and Bloxes, which sold furniture made out of cardboard.[37] Songza was acquired in late 2008 by Amie Street, an Amazon-backed company.[38] Songza was eventually bought by Google and now powers much of Google Play. Songza was also responsible for enabling the creation of mood- and activity-based playlists.[39][40]

By the end of 2010, Raskin [41] had left Mozilla to co-launch a start-up company called Massive Health. His goal was to apply design principles to the goal of maintaining health.[42][43] In 2011, Fast Company conferred its Master of Design award on him for his work as co-founder of Massive Health.[44] On April 16, 2012, Massive Health announced that Raskin would lead the company as its “chief vision officer”.[45] In 2013, Massive Health was acquired by the Jawbone company.[46]

Earth Species Project edit

In 2017, Raskin founded the nonprofit Earth Species Project,[47][48] a non-profit organization focused on using AI to decode non-human communication. The project was the subject of an NPR Invisibilia podcast episode in 2020.[49][50]

Opinions on technology use edit

As one of the co-founders of the Center for Humane Technology,[1] Raskin has been an advocate for the ethical use of technology, and is critical of the far-reaching and often negative effects that modern technology has on everyday lives and society.[6] He has given talks on this topic for Wired magazine[51] and The Wall Street Journal,[52] as well as Bits & Pretzels,[53] Slush,[54] Humanity 2.0,[55] and Laurie Segall.[56]

In 2019, Raskin became a member of the World Economic Forum's Global AI Council.[8]

Media and other activities edit

In 2018, Raskin was featured on the cover of Off Screen Magazine.[57] In 2019, he was included in The Art of Curiosity, a book profiling 50 contemporary innovative and influential thinkers, published by the Exploratorium to commemorate its 50th anniversary.[58] In 2019, in recognition of Raskin's work as a collaborative multimedia artist, he was tapped to be a guest curator for Ars Electronica's 40th anniversary exhibit.[59] and has exhibited his artwork at an exhibition about North and South Korea.[60]

Raskin has also been featured in Forbes’s 30 Under 30,[61] and included in Fast Company’s “Most Creative People" list.[62]

In April 2020, Laurie Segall did a podcast interview of Raskin, in which he spoke about the potential long-term effects of the increased use of information technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.[63]

Personal life edit

Aza Raskin married Wendellen Li in August 2015.[64] The couple has since divorced.

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b "Center for Humane Technology team members". Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  2. ^ Jepsen, Mary Lou; Ryan, John (December 29, 2019). "Artificial intelligence is helping us talk to animals (yes, really)". Wired. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  3. ^ Campofiorito, Matteo (September 1, 2008). "Interview with Aza Raskin, Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs". oneopensource. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  4. ^ "Mozilla warns of new phishing scam". Infosecurity Magazine. May 27, 2010.
  5. ^ Shankland, Stephen (March 8, 2009). "Firefox, too, revamping new-tab behavior". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
  6. ^ a b Dodds, Laurence (10 May 2019). "'We lost control of our creations': The Silicon Valley heretic on a mission to make Big Tech repent". Telegraph.
  7. ^ "Your Undivided Attention Podcast". Humane Tech.
  8. ^ a b "Aza Raskin".
  9. ^ "Design Principle for consideration: Introducing the Active Audience". Humane Tech. April 2019.
  10. ^ Newton, Casey (June 4, 2020). "What other social networks can learn from Snapchat's rebuke of Trump". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  11. ^ "Free Speech Is Not the Same As Free Reach". Wired. 2018.
  12. ^ "Free Speech Is Not the Same As Free Reach". TechCrunch. 2019-11-22.
  13. ^ Jack Dorsey (Oct 31, 2019). "Twitter".
  14. ^ Knowles, Tom (April 27, 2019). "I'm so sorry, says inventor of endless online scrolling".
  15. ^ Pierce, David (September 22, 2016). "VR Headset Makes All Your iPhone Videos 3-D". Wired.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Raskin, Jef; Aza Raskin (September 13, 1994). The Interface Paradox. BayCHI Monthly Program. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  18. ^ a b Raskin, Aza. "aza's Thoughts - About me". Archived from the original on February 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  19. ^ McCarthy, Jack (February 28, 2005). "Mac creator Jef Raskin dies of cancer". InfoWorld. Archived from the original on March 3, 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  20. ^ December 28, 2011
  21. ^ Jakobsson, Markus; Myers, Steven, eds. (2006). Phishing and Counter-Measures: Understanding the Increasing Problem of Electronic Identity Theft. Wiley. p. 800. ISBN 0-471-78245-9.
  22. ^ "InformationWeek, serving the information needs of the Business Technology Community". InformationWeek. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  23. ^ "Aza Raskin's original disclosure of Tabnabbing". Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2010-05-31.
  24. ^ "Tabnapping Web Browser Attack Makes Phishing Easy". eWEEK. 25 May 2010.
  25. ^ "Context Free Art".
  26. ^ "Algorithm Ink | Aza Raskin". Archived from the original on 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
  27. ^ Raskin, Aza (November 30, 2009). "Rebooting Britain: Enact beta versions of new laws". Wired UK – via
  28. ^ "Aza Raskin at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 3". July 22, 2009.
  29. ^ Raskin, Aza (January 16, 2008). "Joining Mozilla". Humanized. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  30. ^ Raskin, Aza (March 30, 2010). "Firefox Looks Inward For a Creative Boost". Giga Om. Archived from the original on April 3, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  31. ^ Raskin, Aza (August 26, 2008). "Introducing Ubiquity". Mozilla Labs. Archived from the original on March 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  32. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (June 11, 2008). "Zoom, Pan, Throw: A Peek At What Firefox Mobile Could Be". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  33. ^ Popescu, Andrei (July 7, 2009). "Geolocation API Specification". W3C. Archived from the original on July 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  34. ^ Raskin, Aza. "Tab Candy: Making Firefox Tabs Sweet". Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  35. ^ Gralla, Preston (August 26, 2010). "Firefox 4 Beta 4 opens a new Panorama". Computerworld.
  36. ^ "836758 - Convert Panorama into an add-on". Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  37. ^ Wenzel, Elsa (March 7, 2008). "Cardboard key to a 'green' office space". CNET News. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  38. ^ "Interview with Amie Street: Why Keep Acquisition of Songza a Secret?". Archived from the original on 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  39. ^ "This Is What It Feels Like When Google Buys Your Startup". Business Insider. Aug 3, 2014.
  40. ^ "A $50 device turns any video into a 3D experience — and is a terrifying way to watch 'Game of Thrones'". Yahoo. Oct 1, 2016.
  41. ^ Aza Raskin. "Leaving Mozilla, Starting Massive Health". Archived from the original on 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
  42. ^ Myers, Courtney Boyd (December 14, 2010). "Aza Raskin Leaves Mozilla to Start Massive Health". The Next Web.
  43. ^ at 11:41, Kelly Fiveash December 15, 2010. "Firefox UI man quits Mozilla for new health-conscious venture".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  44. ^ "Fast Company Dedicates October Issue to "The United States of Design"". September 14, 2011.
  45. ^ "Massive Health CEO and Co-Founder Sutha Kamal departs company. Co-Founder Aza Raskin succeeds him". 16 April 2012.
  46. ^ Velazco, Chris (4 February 2013). "Jawbone Acquires Mobile Health Startup Massive Health In Big Talent Acquisition". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  47. ^ "Earth Species Project".
  48. ^ Yoder, Kate (March 25, 2020). "Starved for human voices? Listen to a podcast about whale songs and climate change". Grist. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  49. ^ "Two Heartbeats A Minute". NPR. April 10, 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  50. ^ Calma, Justine (March 6, 2020). "Go listen to this podcast about decoding the songs of whales". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  51. ^ "Rebalancing Our Relationship With Tech". Wired magazine. 28 June 2019.
  52. ^ "Silicon Valley Renegades Take On Tech Obsession". The Wall Street Journal. Jul 2, 2018.
  53. ^ "Aza Raskin (Center for Humane Technology): The digital attention crisis". Bits & Pretzels. Nov 28, 2019.
  54. ^ "How to Create Human Protective Technology by Aza Raskin". Slush. Dec 7, 2018.
  55. ^ "Aza Raskin from the Center for Humane Technology on the impact of technology on the human condition". Humanity 2.0. Jul 2, 2019.
  56. ^ "Tech's Next Threat: The Weaponization of Loneliness". First Contact with Laurie Segall. iHeart. December 9, 2019.
  57. ^ "Aza Raskin". Off Screen magazine. No. 20. 2018.
  58. ^ Exploratorium (2019). "Aza Raskin". The Art of Curiosity: 50 Visionary Artists, Scientists, Poets, Makers & Dreamers Who Are Changing the Way We See Our World. Weldon Owen. ISBN 9781681889993. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  59. ^ "Gallery between North and South Korea features exhibition by art professor Jimin Lee". UC Santa Cruz. July 6, 2018.
  60. ^ Lee, Jimin (Jan 15, 2019). "Jimin Lee: To the Edge and Back". Issuu.
  61. ^ "Aza Raskin, Co-founder, Massive Health, 27". Forbes and Inc 30 under 30. Archived from the original on January 14, 2020.
  62. ^ "Aza Raskin". Fast Company.
  63. ^ "Covid-19 Has Made Us Slaves to Tech: Will We Ever Escape?". First Contact with Laurie Segall. iHeart Radio. April 20, 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  64. ^ The Georgian, January 2016.

Bibliography edit

Writing edit

Talks edit

External links edit

  Media related to Aza Raskin at Wikimedia Commons