Zane Shannon

thoughtful — digital — beauty

Contact Me

About this Site

This is my semi-static archive.

Here are two other sites that are (slightly) more frequently updated.

I've been collecting the Beautiful Things I find online. Mostly interior design, architecture, and women. All beautiful.

'Beautiful Things' on Tumblr

I'm really earnestly trying to write more often. Gotta take this intellectual parlor show on the road. I'm not sure if all my good ideas will get loose, but the ones that do can be found on my Writemore blog.

Writemore Blog

Personal Profile

I've never been one to take "no" for an answer.

Jim's Steaks
February 2013 — Philadelphia, PA


I’ve been really fortunate. My mom was prosperous, my dad was lazy, and I had a nanny. Anna had errands and other obligations to look after, so I went along for the ride through the neighborhoods she lived in. Traveling with Anna made a huge impression on me and I ended up writing a semi-decent personal essay for my college application about it.

I hope I’ll never fully know what was going through my dad’s head when he bought that top-of-the-line Sony computer for me in second grade. But he did, and (probably) as a result I started programming when I was 8 or 9. I don’t remember particularly feeling like I fit in before that, but with a computer at home under my complete dominion, I never found the inspiration to be the kind of kid other people want to be around.

I’d made art before but I didn’t think of myself as an artist until I finally made it to Sarasota, FL, in August 2004. The faculty and families at The Out-of-Door Academy were the most welcoming people, and the town was so nice! And most importantly, there was art everywhere! Without the baggage of being “the computer prodigy kid”, I devoted almost all of my free time at school to honing my aesthetics.

Not enjoying the first few months of college gave me this insane sense of urgency to get out. I went straight to studying Computer Science because computers were my thing! Intensely focusing on escaping led me to miss out on a lot of good stuff. Fortunately, Duke required Undergraduates (at that time) to take two Visual Arts courses, and I found the Film Video Digital Department (now Arts of the Moving Image). The faculty I encountered in those classes cared what we made, so I cared, too. Those professors at this prestigious place spending their free time making art made an impression on me. I gotta make more art.


Steve Jobs once said,

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” Steve Jobs’ Vision of the World

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t intrinsically know that to be true.

“Zane marches to the beat of his own drummer.” Phillip Wallace, Middle School Principal, Newman School, May 2002 on why I was being expelled from 7th grade

In principle, that idea has guided my entire journey.

I switched to typing Dvorak in 2012, and to mousing left-handed in 2013.

January 2014 — New Orleans, LA


Tools should serve at the pleasure of their operator. I don't use unpleasant tools.


Ruby / Rails



Swift / Cocoa


Percentage of Work Days Using Tool


+ Other Awards & Achievements

Duke University

Bachelor of Arts
May 2010 — Durham, NC

In three years, advised by Owen Astrachan, I completed a Computer Science major, Economics minor, and Arts of the Moving Image certificate. I also studied at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy under the direction of Josh Gibson and Shambhavi Kaul.

  • Notary Public, Parish of Orleans June 2013 — New Orleans, LA

    I was appointed Notary Public by the Governor of Louisiana. I passed the test on my first try; a feat achieved by <4% of test takers. (Louisiana practices Civil Law where Notaries are empowered to do far more than authenticate signatories.)

  • Winner, Best Animated Film April 2010 — Duke University Film Festival, Durham, NC

    Caterpillarness is a film that was created during my final semester of college, as my Capstone Project for Duke's Arts of the Moving Image program. I worked closely with Josh Gibson, Shambhavi Kaul, and David Gatten to produce a film about transition. It didn't occur to me once that I was creating an animated film, until the award ceremony. Watch Caterpillarness

  • Top Score, AP Studio Art May 2007 — Sarasota, FL

    Recognized by the College Board as being among the top 10% of artists to participate in the 2007 Studio Art 2-D Design examination for my 2006-2007 photography portfolio. View Photographs


It hasn't been pleasant the whole way, but I'm glad I got to travel off the well beaten path.

smiles+laughs company

Founder / New Orleans, LA / 2009 - Present

At the beginning of my last year in college, I experienced existential dread at the thought of making a resume. I thought it’d be easier to make a company instead (I was naive). I thought long and hard about the attributes the kind of company I’d want to work for would have, and have worked tirelessly to imbue those qualities into everything smiles+laughs touches.

Visit smiles+laughs


Software Developer / New Orleans, LA / 2010 - Present

I wrote DropDAV in the Fall of 2010. Since its release just before that Christmas, it has enjoyed a substantial amount of success: used by 100k+ people, 20MM+ transactions, 99.98+% uptime (roughly bounded by Dropbox’s uptime), $200k+ revenue, 2 WebDAV codebase rewrites, 3 website rewrites, 4 major infrastructure shifts, and WebDAV server code so solid it breaks the WebDAV committee’s spec test suite (“litmus”).

I’ve done everything except answer the customer support emails, which I hired one of my best friends to help with in June 2011.

Visit DropDAV

Sunny Socks

Product Designer / Durham, NC / 2008 - 2011

I couldn’t find any socks I liked, so two of my friends and I started a sock company from my dorm room. We bought white socks from a store in the mall, then dyed them by hand to our own custom color specifications. We sold a lot of pairs of socks via an online store I coded from scratch. Every one of our customers was surprised and delighted by their interaction with our company.

One day, we’ll resurrect Sunny Socks, because there still aren’t the kind of socks I want available in the world. I’ve got a scheme in mind involving a vending machine.


Some (non-work) stuff that I'm proud of having made.


I'm very friendly, and make time for interesting opportunities.

Contact Info

San Francisco, CA

[email protected]

Get in Touch