I’m a writer who's all about discovering how new technology and design impacts our lives. You know, trying to gain some perspective on our progress before we're overrun by the robots.

I'm a tech writer at Mic.com and I write about tech and startups at ThinkApps. Previously, I covered tech and design for Brit.Co.

I always make time to regularly contribute to hitRECord, and I seldom find time to write on my film blog, reviewing classic movies I should have seen by now but haven't: Better Late Than Never.

In 2012, I moved to Los Angeles by way of Texas and Georgia and I accidentally fell in love with it.

I'd love to chat. Email me: katelanalivia[at]gmail.com

Scroll to the right to check out some of my work and get a feel for things. You can also catch me elsewhere on the world wide web:

Freelancers Union
GOOD Community
The Branch
Electric Literature
GOOD Ideas for Cities
Drawl Magazine
Arlington, Texas Magazine
Well FED
District Quarterly

ThinkApps is an on-demand service building apps for startups in Silicon Valley and worldwide. I write for their blog covering trends and strategies in startups, interviewing founders, and getting the story on new and exciting technology.

How Three Apps Are Reviving the Power of Audio Messaging

Phones used to be all audio — no screens or Internet. Just voice and sound. But obviously, we’ve come a long way since then.

Jeff Baxter and Thomas Gayno were working for five years in Google’s Creative Lab and together they had a hand in a lot of how we use our post-landline gadgets. They worked on brand, product, and marketing for everything from YouTube and Maps to Drive and the Nexus.

While working at Google, though, a lot of their focus veered to wearables and they noticed that, for these small screens on our wrists, we’re going to rely heavily on our voices again. There’s going to be an audio revival in tech — at least that’s Baxter and Gayno’s hypothesis.

Gayno said, “Thanks to products like Vine or Instagram, people share a massive amount of videos and photos over social networks like Twitter. Oddly, audio was left behind.” Get the full story here.

Flow Home Developers Reinvent the Android Home Screen

The way we interact with our smartphone home screens is older than the phones themselves, and the founders of Flow Home think we’re overdue for an update.

Developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson have been making apps since before people really knew what apps were. They met in school at The University of Computer Science in Toronto and have been working together for 15 years, since starting in mobile with the T-Mobile Sidekick.

If you look at pictures of the phone now, it may seem a little clunky and a bit like a tech novelty, but Hall said it was a “modern smartphone ahead of its time.”

He said, “It’s something you see … on average close to 100 times a day … You just assume that it’s always been this way.” But they started thinking, “If you could figure out something better to do with it, then it would be really important.”

Flow Home is their latest effort to revolutionize the home screen. It’s an app that replaces your home screen with a social feed of your choice, in addition to notifications and your top apps within thumb’s reach. Get the full story here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Growth Hacking

One of the startup buzzwords that you’ve no doubt heard a lot lately is “growth hacking.” Some see it as the anti-marketing. In fact, Morgan Brown, who cofounded Full Stack Marketing and leads growth for the Growth Hackers community, says that marketing can kill a startup. When done poorly, marketing can suck up a lot of time and money early on, when you’re still shooting in the breeze and have nowhere to aim.

But, if you’ve always thought that “marketing” and “growth hacking” were just different words for the same thing, others might say you’re right. The lines are getting more and more blurred, and some make the argument that they’re just different stages in the evolution of the same job.

Rather than pointing out what marketing isn’t, it may be more productive to define what growth hacking is.Get the full scoop on growth hacking here.

Brit + Co. is a creative community of makers who love color, technology, food, fashion and all things DIY. As a Freelance Editor, I focus on technology and design, finding must have apps and gadgets and interviewing innovative entrepreneurs.

Upgrade Your Life: 7 Techy Ways to Spend Smarter

The only good thing about the bank used to be getting a lollipop in those little tubes in the drive-thru. But now banking is getting way more convenient, efficient and dare we say… fun? (And there aren’t even any lollipops involved.) From sending money to your friends to paying your bills on time, there are brand new banks, services and apps that are looking to help you manage your money smarter without spending all of your money to do it.

This week’s ways to upgrade your life are all about the money and how you can really get a grip on yours. It can take a little adjusting, but when you realize you don’t have to pay a million fees or talk to eight robots before your reach customer service, you’ll wonder why you ever gave your money to those big banks in the first place. We’ve got the low-down on ways to bring your banking into 2015 and make you and your money way happier. Find out the tools to spend smarter here.

How to Quit Your Day Job and Become a Floral Designer

If you’ve ever tossed some stems in a vase in an attempt to create a statement-making centerpiece, you probably know that it’s not as easy as it looks. We too have dabbled in the art of floral design, and it’s a totally fun, DIY way to bring some vibrant blooms into your life and get to know big ol’ Mother Earth while you’re at it.

In today’s installment of the How to Quit Your Day Job series, we’re digging up some dirt (pun totally intended) on how to not only arrange some lovely blooms for your home, but maybe even make some money doing it. We’re thinking big picture over here, because in the business of buds and blooms, floral designers don’t just make money on wedding bouquets and prom corsages. They don’t even just focus on flowers. From wreaths budding with greenery to olive branch table runners, the artistic potential of plants knows no bounds. And who better to learn from about floral artistry than the pros at Studio Choo?Read their story here.

These Beautiful Prosthetics Are Total Game Changers

These days, you can customize almost everything and while the world of prosthetics hasn’t given way to major design innovation until recently, people are on the fast track to extreme style and new-found confidence thanks to designs from Alleles Design Studio.

By thinking of the prosthetic less like a medical object and more like a fashionable one, Alleles set out to create prosthetic covers for lower limb amputees that easily snap off and on of their existing prosthetic so people can pick designs that go with their outfits. Peep these rad prosthetics here.
Medium is a reading/writing platform where people can read and write about things they're passionate about. I'm passionate about technology and culture.

Unraveling the Enigma of the Texas Homecoming Mum

I never had a Homecoming mum, or even a Homecoming date. At my school, Homecoming was all about the football game and the halftime crowning. Worrying about dates for normal things like dances and prom was hard enough without finding a date to a football game. It wasn’t a meme then, but if i could go back in time, I think my ideal sentiment could be easily summarized by the phrase, “I can’t.”

I was in the vast minority when it came to protesting the mum. Actually, it wasn’t a protest or even some desire to be different. It was simply a severe lack of interest. But for most people, the mum is a sense of pride and nostalgia like a prom dress. Most girls I knew had each year’s mum hanging in a row in their rooms. But for some reason, unlike my desire to wear paper-thin Hollister tees and Soffe shorts and, this was one high school landmark that I never felt I needed. Keep reading to get to the bottom of the mum.


It’s time to outgrow the generation gap

I’ve read so, so many lists and opinion pieces full of statistics, assumptions, and generalizations explaining why the people of my generation are the way we are. Why myself and my friends live in limbo between feeling like we deserve so much and still feeling like children, and most of all: why we won’t shut up about it.

Yes, many of us received at least one participation trophy in our lifetime. Many of us were told we can do anything. A lot of us got degrees we can’t use in a meager work force and paying off those degrees is proving to be, well, near impossible. But another Top 20 List of observations getting to the bottom of why we spend so much time on our smartphones and how to handle us seems to be beating a dead meme. Read more about young folks who are changing the game.


No more spoon-fed technology:
A eulogy to skeuomorphism

If you’re unfamiliar, skeuomorphism can be defined as nostalgia by design. Faux wood paneling on the side of a station wagon. Cute but immovable wooden shutters. The sound of the shutter click your phone makes when you take a picture. What once was a necessity of function in generations past, becomes an embellishment solely for the purpose of touchy-feely familiarity—a baby step in our understanding of what’s new. But Apple’s event tomorrow could be a big step (one that Google and Microsoft have already taken) in moving technology’s functionality into a world of its own, independent of its tangible counterparts.


This upgrade is long overdue, and at this stage, a moot point of controversy. It symbolizes not just an evolution of design and user experience, but also an evolution of perspective. When we no longer tie our technology to the expectations of its tangible counterparts or older generations, then the possibilities are unbound. We can see past the limitations of the physical world and envision the potential of the digital one. Read the whole piece


Tweet by tweet, we're making history

In the past five years or so, tech innovators and laggards alike have been able to go to Twitter for the latest news before seeing it anywhere else. Taking into account excusable, and not-so-excusable fallacies, we take the bad with good, choose who to listen to and piece together our own story as it develops. Our views, likes, shares and retweets gauge the impact of major historical events, and the impact of the May 20 tornado in Moore, Okla. was massive.

Through the lens of social media, major events that were once considered regional turn national, global, even. Online petitions have taken the place of door-to-door efforts. Lawn signs and bumper stickers are being replaced by a temporary change of profile pic. And actually, I don’t think these conceptual skeumorphs are less effective given the amount of time we spend online. They’re well-intentioned and if nothing else, gain attention for things people care about. But we all care about so many things, it’s difficult deciding where to dole out one’s thought, much less, real empathy. How are we supposed to really feel it all? Read the whole piece
As part of the SoulPancake Brainlab, I gave feedback on the site and wrote prompts to get the community involved in answering Life's Big Questions. These are some of the questions I've asked.

One-Word Year in Review

As people weighed in with one-word summaries of 2012, I saw many similarities and patterns. So I looked beyond my SoulPancake writing role and created an infographic based off of users' responses. Infographics usually represent solid, black and white statistics, so playing with words, concepts and emotions seemed like it could be an adventure...and it was!

Click here for a larger, zoomable version.


When Will You Be Your Future Self?

image source

The person I aspired to be was a mirage. Not a figment of my imagination. Not an idol I aspired to mimic, but a mirage. I could see her, always in the distance with details I could never quite make out. This person who I wanted to be was waiting at a benchmark on the timeline on my life. I thought that when I was ready and worthy, I would approach her, my future self, able to see all the details up close. Able to pass her the baton and say, "Take it from here."

This imagery had always sulked in me beneath the skin, a cumulonimbus cloud hovering just above the heart--it's only recently surfaced itself. And as silly as it may seem, at 23, I'm just now realizing that I've been living beneath the shadow of my mirage. I thought that becoming her would be something I'd approach quite literally by passing on the very thing I've existed to build. But she doesn't exist without me. I am her.

Who are you? When are you going to turn into who you want to be and how are you going to do it? People shared ideas and aspirations.

The Past: Revisited

@thisistheilliad "I long for New York City on the daily. That has never left me."

My friend posted this on Twitter and it struck a resounding chord with me. I miss Savannah, Georgia all the time in a way that makes me feel like maybe I never experienced it enough. Like maybe there's more to see and I'm missing it.

It's a place of grungy alleyways, vocal cats, historic statues in parks, bars always within walking distance and people always on porches. It's a place kept alive with stories and nostalgia. My boyfriend says that nostalgia is a longing for a feeling that you can never have again, which I think is true. But you can't miss something until you leave it.

The energy of Savannah, though often Southern-slow and contained, is the very thing that makes it, for me, a place worth missing. It's something worth holding onto.

What memories does it feel good to have? Is nostalgia bittersweet or just bitter? People shared memories.

Tweet and photos of Savannah by Adeshola Adigun, @thisistheilliad


Where Do You Congregate?

image source

Whether you're religious or not, you have to admit, that religions have a knack for bringing people together. In a temple, mosque, or church, like-minded folks gather and share their faith. But it doesn't have to be a house of worship. It could be the pool, a coffee house, a park, a mountain, a bowling alley...

Is there a place where you spend time with like-minded folks that's uplifting and makes you feel part of something larger than yourself?

Go there. Take a photo. Share the space with us.

Upload a photo of the coolest place where you congregate.People shared photos.