I AM BECK TENCH.
I’m a PhD student at the University of Washington Information School. I work in the area of information and contemplation, specifically studying how people establish and maintain contemplative practices as a way to access personal knowledge, improve their quality of life, and cope with the distractions of digital culture.
My undergraduate work trained me as a designer and technologist. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism and Mass Communication and spent my early career designing websites, programming in early web languages (HTML, CSS, Coldfusion, ASP, PHP), and conducting light user experience research as an information architect.
In 2008, I became the Director for Innovation and Digital Engagement at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC, where I designed novel digital experiments in partnership with the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Michigan State University. Some of those experiments were mentioned in major media outlets like the New York Times and NPR’s Science Friday (thanks to Nina Simon pointing those reporters our way), and I had the opportunity to speak about them at places like MIT, the Smithsonian, and even internationally. A complete list of those experiments is archived on this Workflowy list. The two projects I’m most proud of in that list are Experimonth and Project FeederWatch: Sketch.
While I worked for the museum, I served on my local library board for five years, eventually becoming the chair. At the same time, I worked with librarians across the state of Illinois through a program called ILEADUSA. For six years, I gave an annual keynote address and then worked with individual teams of librarians across 9-months, supporting them in taking risks with their projects and making change in the culture of their libraries.
In 2014, I quit my job at the museum, took a sabbatical in Ocracoke, NC, and started working independently with cultural organizations, libraries, museums, and foundations. My work spans digital engagement, institutional culture change, and experience design.
In the Spring of 2015, I was a visiting lecturer in the University of Washington’s Museology Graduate Program. I developed and taught the course “Digital Experiments in Museums and Libraries” and also co-taught a course on “Careers and Social Capital” with Kris Morrissey. It was at this time that I met David Levy and began to explore research and teaching as a next step in my career. In the winter of 2016, I was notified of my acceptance as a PhD student.
I welcome conversations with friends and followers and regularly have coffee or Skype chats with complete strangers who email and ask to chat. If you'd like to think together, send me an email or message on Twitter.
Beck Tench was formally trained as a designer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and has spent her career helping people and organizations of all types embrace risk-taking, creativity, and change through technology and personal space-making.
Her work has been mentioned in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Scientific American, and several books and blogs. A few projects she was instrumental in making and facilitating include The Space Deck, Experimonth, Project FeederWatch: Sketch, and The SmartWool Experiment.
Some of her favorite work was done in partnership with the Museum of Life and Science, Exploratorium, Michigan State University, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and Illinois State Library.
In 2016, Beck began her studies as a PhD student at the University of Washington’s Information School, where she researches contemplative practice and information science.