James Wen (Colorado 2018)

I moved from the high mountains
of Colorado in 2018…


…to the lowland lakes of Finland



I got my domain years ago but realized I wasn’t into going on about myself and so I made this tiny animation and it was my entire website…until now.

I’m a researcher in Human Computer Interaction, developer of software systems, designer of virtual worlds, and a tech entrepreneur. I started wanting to be an astronaut and so studied astrophysics at Cornell University. Drawn to the arts and computers, as well, I completed a second major in Computer Science and wrote a thesis on visualization at Brown University. Turning down a PhD scholarship to MIT I ended up studying under Mark Billinghurst at the Human Interface Lab in New Zealand where I expanded into the social sciences. I find mixing all these things together exciting because I am fascinated by how our organic nature intersects with digital technology. 

As part of my research, I’ve measured how much computers dumb us down and I studied how technology can warp our social perception. I also looked into how we can build working relationships with robots as they transition from tools to teammates. I describe my research more here, along with links to my publications.

Outside of academia, I’ve worked with big companies like IBM Research and Amazon as well as small companies like Comet Systems and Atlas Mobile, primarily designing and prototyping new interfaces. I’ve founded tech companies like Funky Monks Syndicate, Inc. (web annotation) and Positive Motion LLC (mobile education) along with startups that didn’t quite start up, like Phototyper (automatic wireframe prototypes from drawings).

My interests range from hiking and (American) football to playing music, making cartoons, and dancing lindy hop. Originally from Queens, New York, I travel as much as I can and I am now living in Finland where I’m embracing the idea that saunas are an indispensable part of life.