#FathersDay2023: Dear Dad, Thanks for Unexpectedly Inspiring My Technology Career

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson
4 min readJun 17, 2023

(Author’s note: My father passed away in late 2022. Though we weren’t close, he inadvertently set me on a technology-laden path that would traverse the course of my professional life. Happy father’s day to him and to all dads, far and wide this 2023 🌻.)

Back in the 80s, when I was just an MTV-loving teen, I’d spend a few weeks each year — mostly summer vacations — visiting my dad in southern Florida.

One hot summer in particular, dad had to work long shifts so he didn’t want me sitting around bored for hours on end. That’s when he shuffled me into his bedroom to show off his brand new computer setup.

As I recall, dad had converted a corner of his room into a home office nook; one decked out with a hutch desk and some kind of clunky-looking thingamabobber he called his new computer.

A computer?

Yes, he explained; but apparently it wasn’t just any computer.

“It’s a Macintosh.

“A what?” I asked, perplexed.

“You can use it, you know,” dad said without skipping a beat.

“Use that thing?!” I quipped while gesturing toward the Mac. “What the heck would I even do with it?”

“Well, you can play around with it some time. I installed Peachtree on it so you can do all kinds of things with it.”

I remember this Mac-themed convo to the T for two explicit reasons:

  1. Throughout our lives, dad and I did not have much of a relationship so whenever the man did take the time to speak with me, it was something I remembered.
  2. That Macintosh’ed summer marked the starting point of what would become a lifelong and thriving relationship with personal computers, software, hardware, and a range of cybertechnologies.

I was an impressionable 14 then. Yet, I vividly our exchange as if it just happened yesterday.

Dad would leave for work each day and I’d sit at that rinky-dink desk of his while tinkering with his beloved Macintosh; all the while not really knowing what the hell I was doing, clicking, or learning.

But somehow, with a mouse click here and a cursor click there, I gradually figured out over the course of that summer the ins and outs of dad’s Peachtree software and the Mac’s operating system.

Before long, I was producing full-blown, desktop-published newspapers and magazines — absolutely imaginary ones, of course — but elaborate just the same. Or at least as “elaborate” as dad’s dot matrix printer could produce.

Those teen summer days spent as a pretend newsroom and magazine editor shaped what would later in adult life become a full-fledged career across various facets of computerized everything, including interaction design, digital content, application development, mobile apps, experience design, social media marketing, and more.

During those career-focused years, I:

  • witnessed the Internet’s dawning as it unfolded and flourished as a viable medium and rich landscape for brands and their emerging digital technologies;
  • saw and experienced, first hand, all kinds of tech-fads, platforms, and trends come and go, including Flash animation and mobile-only websites to brochureware, cascading style sheets’ debut, the rise of measurement and metrics, and many other firsts (and lasts);
  • worked with domestic and offshore dev teams and project managed a number of enterprise-wide applications from ideation and prototype to validation and delivery;
  • and even dedicated at least two full years teaching 15-week web design and development courses at a design school in downtown DC where I was adjunct teaching students how to code dynamic HTML, style sheets, and JavaScripts.

And later, during the mid-to-late 2000s, when social media first came online and grew to be the brand place to be, I was there in the thick of it, showing marketing teams of all shapes and sizes how to engage and build their audiences on channel after channel.

Sometimes I look back at my tech journey and can’t help but wonder …

… if I would’ve even experienced, seen, or achieved any of those Internet-career and digital strategy milestones had my dad not introduced me to his clunky ol’ Mac on that random summer day?

Perhaps not.

Which makes me that much more grateful to my dad, for pulling me aside that one fateful day and igniting an interest and spark, whether he knew it or not, that would endure beyond us both.

And that spark from years ago has been the gift that’s kept on giving.

… because my foundational career experiences helped catapult my new and second career in humane technology and AI ethics.

So this Father’s Day, I’m remembering my dad with a greater sense of appreciation than I ever thought I could feel or express.

Though now gone and in grace, the path he unintentionally set me on so long ago blooms and thrives even still, much like these shared memories live on in my heart as well.

Thank you dad.

Your daughter always,

me 🤍

Thanks for reading!

I write about human-technology interaction, mediated technologies, and cyberpsychology **but** I also enjoy creative writing, graphic design/computer art, visual art, and more. Check out my Medium lists to see if there’s something more I’ve published that might be of interest to you 🙏.

my websites

cyberpsychologist.media
media/cyber psychology, behavior design, and more
mayrayadir.com
creative writing, visual artistry, and self publishing

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Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

Cyberpsychologist • AI Researcher & Ethics • Qualitative Futurist • Visual Artist & Creative Writer • Bookworm & Cilantro Lover