Designing with Bill Tinney

Rebel-13
Rebel-13
Sep 9, 2019 · 5 min read

Bill is an engineer and designer at Rebellion where he focuses on user experience.

Tell me about your career journey thus far; how did you end up at Rebellion?

“For two decades I’ve advocated for users — helping them find their next favorite album, give more to charity, interact with various CRMs through voice interfaces, quantify and continuously improve their health, and now protect civilians and help our service members come home more whole. Half of my career has been in startups, where I thrive pushing pixels, writing front-end code, as well as growing teams to create products that enhance users’ lives and solve their pain points.

I worked with Chris Lynch (Rebellion’s CEO) years ago at a startup we created called North By Nine. After years of working separately on other visions, our paths aligned and I have the honor of joining him in creating a suite of amazing products for Rebellion … this time with a host of other incredible talent for a great cause.”

Bill Tinney, engineer & designer at Rebellion.

How do you settle into a day of developing code at Rebellion?

“Four things help me drop into the zone daily: great music in my QC15 headphones, an adjustable height desk (with a FluidStance board), a massive 5k monitor, and a to-do list to check off. Context switching can be brutal for productivity, so ensuring I’ve mapped out my day well is critical. From there, I can prioritize quick wins or dive deep into Sketch, React, or Photoshop to check off those boxes.

No two days are the same, but there’s always a guarantee that we’ll have a win to celebrate and something to debate … and maybe, just maybe, someone will do something crazy on a OneWheel.”

How do your personal values drive your work at Rebellion?

“In the past few years, I’ve grown more and more frustrated with the downward spiral of accountability in our news headlines and amongst other things, a looming consensus from my peers that AI was going to eventually be used for evil … especially when it comes to wartime.

As an optimist, pacifist, and technologist from Seattle, I realized I couldn’t optimistically await someone else to solve the big tech problems looming over our military today. No one is coming to save us, it’s up to us to do the right thing and make change.

Our troops go to the front lines on our elected officials’ whims. Their safety, and the safety of the civilians in the areas they are sent, are only as good as the tools and data they possess. Just like every other product I’d made to date, their success also hinges upon being able to make informed decisions as quickly as possible — only theirs have tremendous life-altering implications.

I choose to help them sleep well at night knowing they’ve made the best decision they could in a heightened moment. Through Rebellion, I’ve found that technologists have a place in this fight to protect our nation’s ideals and freedoms. Securing this bedrock is more important now than ever before. There will be opportunities to create shiny magical trinkets in the future, and maybe I’ll go back to that comfy place, but for now, I’m honoring my duty as a designer and engineer where I can make a truly meaningful impact — The Rebellion.”

How does your work at Rebellion bridge the cultural divide between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.?

“While the work in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. may be well-intentioned, oftentimes critical decisions made on both coasts come at the expense of people’s privacy, health, finances, and more. D.C. can move at a snail’s pace, and the Valley is boom and bust. My aspiration with Rebellion is that together we do good in the world while also doing well for it, to move swiftly but not irrationally, and ultimately to focus on our user base and not just give them lip service. With expertise on both sides of the aisle, we may just inspire others to create similar rebellions on behalf of the environment, civil rights, and other corners of the society that need increased advocacy.”

Industry partnership is so critical. Now, for some lighter questions: if you were a cocktail, what would you be?

“It depends on the season. As a Seattleite, I fire on all cylinders in the summer and hibernate in the winter. As such, the simplicity and refreshment of an Aperol Spritz is required when spending time outside by any body of water, brunch, or on a rooftop deck late into the evening with friends. On the flip side, winter requires a Vieux Carre. Balanced, smooth, and packing a warming punch this is best consumed while chatting with the bartender and a loved one at an ill lit craft cocktail bar away from the rain … preferably Zig Zag, Canon, Deep Dive, or Artusi.”

What is your favorite architectural marvel?

“Back in 2001, just before 9/11, I went to India for nearly a month. The Himalayas commanded reverence, as did the millennia old temples perched upon their hillsides. However, the Taj Mahal brought me to my knees and I wept in awe. Stepping through the tiny gate, I turned the corner and saw it mirrored in the reflecting pools as I’d seen as a child in encyclopedias. I never fully understood the scale, till I saw masses of tiny people moving in the distance. Words can’t describe it.

Sadly, I lost my camera on the flight to India, so I sat on a bench near one of the massive side buildings with my sketchbook and drew. A guard loved what I created and we talked for an hour or so. Having studied the inlaid precious stones, the light, the shapes and beauty long enough to create the illustration and commit the afternoon to memory, I didn’t need the piece of paper any longer. He wept too when I handed it to him.”

What would you want people to remember you by?

“Even on the shittiest of days, I listened, was kind, and optimistic that together we could make the day better.”

What is the coolest thing that you own?

“Six years ago my wife and I designed and built a teardrop trailer in our garage from scratch. Over the course of three months of nights and weekends we painstakingly crafted a time capsule that transports young and old into a calming place of nostalgia. We finished it the night before our maiden voyage to Burning Man where it towed like a dream behind our two door Mini Cooper S. We’ve taken it on numerous road trips, gazing up at the stars from our queen size bed and cooking meals in the kitchen that’s equipped with a two burner stove, lights, and running water.”


About Rebellion Defense: Rebellion builds technology products using artificial intelligence and machine learning that serve the mission of national defense for the United States, United Kingdom, and our allies.

Our people are passionate about creating a company where technologists empower the military and our civil servants to solve some of the hardest problems in government.

We are hiring incredible software engineers and mathematicians to work on products that defend democracy, humanitarian values, and the rule of law. Learn more about us, or contact us at inquiries@rebelliondefense.com.

Rebellion Defense

Rebel-13

Written by

Rebel-13

Rebellion Defense

Rebellion builds products using artificial intelligence and machine learning that serve the mission of national defense for the United States, United Kingdom, and our allies.

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