Donald Erik Schneider was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In his formative years he attended seven different schools, covering five school districts across two states. This left in him a thirst for human connectedness that will never be sated.
Don has always loved the written word. One of his earliest memories is a desire to board the “bookmobile,” a small mobile library, and of his bitter disappointment that he did not yet have the motor skills to sign the required library card. His passion for language drives many of his friends to irritation with what they consider “semantic quibbling.” He demurs, insisting it is not quibbling but rather an uncompromising pursuit of precise and detailed clarity.
At the tender age of twelve he discovered a tape-reading dot-matrix terminal connected to a college mainframe, and fell instantly and irrevocably in love with the possibilities. Two years later he was finally able to start writing code, and he’s never lost the itch to keep writing more. After getting a software engineering degree from Cornell, he has written code in many different problem domains. From working in the banking industry he learned that he doesn’t like wearing a suit and tie; from working in the defense industry he learned that he doesn’t like waterfall planning methodologies. From working on Apple’s “Newton” device, he learned that almost great isn’t actually great. From working on Apple’s text-to-speech technology he learned that truly great isn’t always spectacular.
Then in the 1990s he discovered online community, and for over a decade he worked on various social offerings. He ultimately landed with great surprise at Amazon.com to work on Customer Reviews, Wishlist, and social reading with Goodreads.com. From this he learned that connecting people across the world is both beautiful and terrifying; he remains inspired by a technology that can kindle otherwise impossible friendships and even romance, while chastened by the omnipresent risk of empowering horrific, deviant subcommunities. For the last decade, Don has focused on protecting Amazon’s customers, helping to build technical infrastructure to train and deploy cutting-edge machine learning models that detect bad actors and prevent them from causing harm to good customers.
Don has always loved to write. He wrote his first short story at age 10, and while it may have lacked elaborate structure, deep characterization, sophisticated language, and underlying thematic purpose, it did not lack for enthusiasm or emphatic typing. He has quietly if privately continued to practice the craft, and his first novel will be released in 2020. He believes he may have addressed some of the criticisms that were leveled at his very first effort; you can see an excerpt here and perhaps judge for yourself.
He and his wife Laura spend their days in Kirkland, WA. When they’re not trying to keep up with the four adult offspring they’ve blended into a modern equivalent of family, you will usually find them at home celebrating the joy of self-expression.