darren james harkness


Creative Technologist | darren@staticred.com | (780) 977-8944
“Darren has a deep design and development background, which coupled with his hands on attitude towards development and implementation, allows for an awareness of task, and an understanding of the various steps required to meet the delivery of a successful I.T project. A pleasure to have worked with.”

   — LinkedIn Recommendation

Darren James Harkness is a creative technologist with a reputation for acting as a bridge between technical staff and non-technical stakeholders. He has a solid footing in information technology, having served in many technical roles over the past 15 years, including project management, supervision, development, creative, and technical communication. He has worked in startup, enterprise, and public organizations.

Darren gravitates towards complex, challenging work that crosses the boundaries between technical and non-technical. His experience gives him the ability move easily among roles, to effectively communicate the needs of one role to another in a simple and relevant way, and to critically approach and plan large scale technical projects, working with stakeholders, engineering, and administration.

Darren holds a Masters degree in Humanities Computing with a focus on social media. He has published on various topics in computing, including a book on the Apache web server and book chapters on social media and intranet design, and continues to explore trends in social media and technology.

Experience

Skillset

  • Agile
  • Apache
  • CMS/Drupal
  • Graphic Design
  • HTML + CSS + Javascript
  • Information Architecture
  • Linux
  • MySQL
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Project Management
  • Relationship building
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Social Media
  • Technical Writing
  • Usability + User Expecience
  • Web Development

Lead Web Developer / Project Manager

Athabasca University | July 2007 - present

Major projects: Learning Management Cloud, e-portfolio, Canadian Film Online, e-Lab, Landing

This position was created to better facilitate communication between the institution’s technical services department and faculty and involves facilitating communication and project management between these two groups. In this position, I’ve managed projects ranging from small-scale individual research proposals (< $50,000) to multi-year institutional efforts involving multiple stakeholder groups (> $500,000). I have hired and managed interdisciplinary teams (5-10) of IT, creative, faculty, and contract staff, and built a reputation as being a reliable, collaborative bridge between technical and non-technical staff.

I have managed and advised several large-scale projects that have researched, evaluated, and implemented new technology for the institution, including the Learning Management Cloud, a collaborative effort among Alberta universities to provide a cloud-based Moodle infrastructure for reducing the administrative and provisioning costs of online learning; an e-portfolio system for students that allows them to create and share displays of learning and reduces cost for prior learning assessment at the university; Canadian Film Online, an interactive database of Canadian film and film policy that saw a partnership with Library and Archives Canada and the Toronto International Film Festival; the e-Lab, a multidisciplinary resource for students that explores new techniques for learning; and the Landing, an internal social networking system that connects Athabasca’s diverse population. I have built project documentation, managed budgets, supervised staff and contractors, worked with government agencies, contributed to product development, and facilitated collaborative efforts between researchers and technical staff.

Help Developer Lead

GE Fanuc | June 2003 – July 2007

Major projects: iHistorian, Proficy, XML-based authoring model

This position was responsible for creating and maintaining application and online help files for GE Fanuc’s industrial software solutions. I was assigned to write technical documentation for the iHistorian and Proficy products, but quickly expanded my role to provide infrastructure support for their help systems as a whole.

As part of the Help Development team, I reduced maintenance requirements for existing documentation models through automation and scripting. I also improved team documentation practices and communication through an ad-hoc intranet and wiki system.

In 2006, I led the transition from a closed multi-format authoring model to a single-source, XML-based authoring model that could output to several formats, including online and print. This allowed for more efficient maintenance of existing content and portability among formats and created potential for new models of technical documentation, including simple content reuse.

Web developer (contract)

Sandcastle Inc | April 2003 – June 2003

I was contracted by Sandcastle (formerly CDMG) to help develop a site for AADAC. While there, I expanded my ASP knowledge, and created a fully functional administration portal for the site. This portal handled the maintenance of the site’s content, including news, polls, data storage for Flash games, inter-site messaging and membership.

Concurrently, I developed a time management system in PHP, which helped track project hours and clients.

Principal (Freelance)

static·red light industries | 2003 – 2012

I designed and developed websites for several nonprofit and small business clients, including UBC Faculty of Education’s Digital Literacy Centre and Homeless Connect.

Webmaster

Matrikon | May 2002 – January 2003

Matrikon was a multi-faceted position, covering web development and implementation, technical copy writing and graphic design. Working closely within a team of three (myself, a graphic artist, and a copy writer), we worked to service a company of over 400 employees and their marketing demands.

In my tenure at Matrikon, I expanded my web development skills, adding SQL, ASP and PHP knowledge and worked through a site rebrand and redesign.

Creative Director

Merilus Inc | March 2000 – March 2002

I worked with marketing, sales, and development teams to create common design language among marketing materials, online presence, and user interface.

Technical Writer, Webmaster

Worldgate Inc | August, 1999 – March, 2000

I collaborated with support staff and founders to build print and online marketing materials, including support material and maintenance of the company website.

Technical Writer

NetMaster | 1998 - 1999

I authored technical documentation for the core product, a software-based firewalling system.

Selected Projects

Canadian Film Online

> Visit website

I provided technical leadership and project management for the Canadian Film Online project as part of Athabasca University's e-lab project.

Canadian Film Online (CFO) is an interactive website devoted to the history of full-length feature filmmaking in Canada. Our database contains records for over 4000 feature films made since 1960. We also provide summaries, commentaries, and interviews with people whose contributions to Canadian filmmaking have been significant.

CFO aims to illuminate the connections between government policies and programs, and the actual financing, production, and distribution of films. Visitors can browse timelines, maps, and charts to better understand where films are made in Canada and how location is affected by policy-making.

CFO contains information about francophone films, but refers users to the Quebec-based website L’Éléphant for a full overview of Québecois filmmaking. We share a database with Library and Archives Canada (LAC-BAC), and content with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

This project is funded in part by the Canada Interactive Fund at Canadian Heritage.

Athabasca University e-Lab

> Visit Website

As part of my work at Athabasca University, I helped put together the e-lab with Dr. Evelyn Ellerman. I served in project and team management roles on this project, creating the initial project documentation, planning and executing the work required to meet project deliverables, and supervising the work of web and content developers.

The e-lab serves as a place between pilot and production for Athabasca University, where they can experiment with new educational technologies. Its initial group of deliverables was a central hub site, an e-portfolio tool, a virtual tool cupboard, workshop activities, and an exhibition gallery. The first phase of deliverables was completed in March 2011.