Once upon a time – sometime around 1993 – Harris said to me, “Michelle, you should really learn Photoshop.” And I (who was at that point mostly computer illiterate) looked at him dumbly and asked “Why?”
Jumping ahead to 1996, I was working in Photoshop daily as a website designer in Los Angeles and my boss turned me on to this really cool company in NY. I emailed it to Harris with a note that he should submit his resume there when he graduated. He responded via email, “Why?” and promptly lost the information. Roughly six months later, Harris was working there anyway.
My friend, Paul, who never met Harris but was a frequent visitor to Jazz Central Station back in those days, wrote the following on his blog in a tribute to Harris:
In addition to composing and performing music, Harris was also a software engineer. One really cool thing he did was coming up with the The Hidden Chair. At Jazz Central Station (a really good music BBS I used to visit), there was a drawing of a chair that was part of the graphic in the left nav without any indication that it was a link of any sort. It totally just blended into a larger graphic. Clicking this chair took you to a hidden discussion board that became an integral part of the core of the community. As somebody on a bulletin board (archived PDF) said upon learning of Harris’ passing:
I was thinking about The Chair yesterday, I really was. That was a cool concept that was pulled off so successfully. Harris didn’t tell anyone about it, he just let users find it and have fun. Well it was a gift he gave us.
N2K Inc., New York, NY 8/1996 – 3/1998
Technical Project Manager
Redesigned high-profile music web site, jazzcentralstation.com. Directed site development from concept to launch as lead technologist in a team with marketing, design, and editorial staff. Managed a group of four programmers and HTML writers. Designed database schema and information architecture. Dramatically reduced labor-intensiveness of site production by creating web-based authoring tools. Created and nurtured heavily trafficked (> 500 posts/day) message board community.