I was born in Vladivostok, the Pacific coast of the Soviet Union. In 1995 I moved to California to attend Stanford University where I did an undergraduate degree in Symbolic Systems (essentially a cognitive science program) and a Master’s degree in Computer Science. While I was at Stanford, my main interest was in psycholinguistics and language technology and I worked on some projects with Stanley Peter's Computational Semantics Lab at Stanford's Center for Study of Language and Information. After completing my Master’s degree I went to work for a language technology startup, where I lead a team of engineers working on tools for developing voice-based user interfaces.

In 2003 I started the Ph.D. Program at the UC Berkeley School of Information, where I wrote a dissertation based on an ethnography of software development in Brazil. (So, some of the time that I spent “at Berkeley” was actually spent in Rio de Janeiro.) I completed the program in 2009 and moved to Toronto to join the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. My first book, based on my Berkeley dissertation, is expected to come out in the fall of 2012.