Geeky Girl We Love: Jean Aw of Notcot


Last month we featured some of the cutest geeky couples and bachelors in the blogoshere, which left many of you wondering - what about the women? Fear not my fine friends, we were just saving the best for last. March is Women's History Month so I figured there was no better way to celebrate than to highlight some of the smartest, most creative and successful women on the internet.

Jean Aw is the co-founder of Notcot and Notcot.org, a network of informative and collaborative websites that doubles as a design consultancy. It's tagged as a "visual filtration of ideas+aesthetics+amusement," which translates to a beautiful mix of all the things Jean and the community love. At 24, the designer, trendspotter and entrepreneur has already made a mark in the blog world and seems to be leading the pack with an innovative, creative site that celebrates design, imagery and curation. I dare you not to fall in love with it - or her for that matter. For the full interview read more

Geeksugar: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Jean: I'm a 24-year-old design addict + UX Designer + shopaholic + tech connoisseur + design writer + world traveler + internet junkie. Born and raised in Los Angeles, it remains my homebase... even when I wander off to Milan for over a year, I always touch down here between moves. NOTCOT.com launched in 2005, when I returned from my adventures in Italy (working on my Masters degree), landed in San Diego jet lagged, and driving my friend crazy... his solution? Make me learn CSS - through playing with movable type - and when I had no content, I simply posted things I found myself IM-ing to friends anyhow. It became great as my own design resource, but then others started reading it, and it's taken on a life of its own and is still growing and evolving.

Geeksugar: It seems like everyone is talking about your site these days - can you tell us a little back story about how you got it started?
Jean: The first major evolution in 2006 was the launch of NOTCOT.org, a community-based bulletin board of sorts for the visually oriented (but aren't we all really?). It reads like the picturebook to others blog rolls, delicious, digg, etc. Second priority to making imagery the main focus, was to make it ridiculously intuitive and easy to post, such that the non-bloggers among us finding great content wouldn't have an excuse not to. All you need is a great image, a link, and a quick caption. Built from scratch, we are constantly adding new features, trying new things, and its been a thrill to see the design inspiration people are finding... Our latest endeavor has been Tastespotting.com which is NOTCOT.org - for food, because designers need to eat too! (But prepare to drool, those food bloggers are serious - and have you seen how amazing some kitchen gadgets are?)

Geeksugar: Notcot is unique because you are able to showcase other sites, but maintain a clean style. How do you describe your style and goals for the site in terms of design?
Jean: Clean and Simple. I like to let the images speak for themselves. We've taken this approach on every aspect of the sites, from visual design to the user experience in submitting new pictures on NOTCOT.org and Tastespotting. On NOTCOT.com the design approach is more like a roman scroll with one main section, which we've complemented with hand-drawn doodle-styled tags hanging from strings (as various birds fly by or land on them) to help break the 90 degree angles so common on the web. These tags have served as a unique way to showcase art and ads in a more unique fashion.

Geeksugar: How many hours are you online everyday?
Jean: I can't even imagine... if we count by the amount I sleep, and go out each day... wait does accessing the internet on my Blackberry Pearl count? If so, I'd have to guess I'm up there with those men... I don't consider myself a full time blogger, but the time not spent on the sites probably goes to real world researching for the sites and managing the business sides of things (with quite a bit of UX consulting work mixed in).

Geeksugar: Your first computer was a ...
Jean: Apple IIgs - my little sister and I used to play Carmen San Diego and mini golf on it and also used to print many a "masterpiece" from Paintshop on the painfully loud and slow dot matrix printer.

Geeksugar: What are you most proud of ?
Jean: The international community of aesthetically driven creative that has formed around the sites... I used to HATE creative blocks, and I haven't really had one since I launched NOTCOT.org. At any given moment someone finds something new and inspiring, or even just clicking to a random page, there is always SOMETHING to catch your eye, distract you, send you back to wanting to make something. I've come to see NOTCOT.org as our collective space to fight creative blocks everywhere!

Geeksugar: What is your favorite thing about your job? What is your favorite post from the site?
Jean: My favorite thing about NOTCOT is that everything I love doing I can now call work. Travelling, shopping, finding great designers and artists to obsess over... As for favorite posts, my current favorite post is the Miss Van opening I just went to last night, she's been a long time favorite of mine since her street art days, so it was absolutely incredible to see them in person and selling out lightning fast. To be fair, all the posts are my favorites, since I take an inspiration based angle, unless I LOVE it, it doesn't end up on NOTCOT.com... and as for community based NOTCOT.org and Tastespotting.com there is something incredible about watching all of the incredible finds people come up with, makes it hard not to love all the posts.

Geeksugar: How many blogs are in your RSS reader?
Jean: I'm a Firefox tabs kinda girl - "open all in tabs" is my best friend. The designer in me loves context, so I often feel the need to read posts in their natural form on their sites! So, 0!

Geeksugar: Who do you think are the top 5 sexiest male geeks in the world?
Jean:These are such hard questions! So after some brain racking here are some random guys i came up with...

  • James Bond (fictional is ok right?) ~ no one has ever had hotter cars or gadgets
  • Tyler Brule - as founder of Wallpaper and now Monocle, I can't imagine he doesn't have quite the geek stash of designer gadgets
  • Ze Frank - anyone who vlogs that frequently MUST have quite the slew of gadgetry
  • Jeph Jacques - the brilliant man behind Questionable Content. from the comic, I assume has at least has a roomba and ipod... if not some crazy anthroPC's bent on world domination
  • Jonathan Harris - genius behind We Feel Fine, Yahoo Time Capsule and justcurio.us. He has a brilliant ability to blend art and the dynamic nature of the web beautifully

Geeksugar: Who do you think are the top 5 sexiest female geeks in the world?
Jean: That's oddly difficult - tapped some geek boys minds to help me out on this one, and we ended up having more fun with the sexy movie girlie geeks...

  • Angelina Jolie in Hackers, Mr and Mrs. Smith, Tomb Raider, and Gone in 60 Seconds
  • Nikita from La Femme Nikita
  • Charlize Theron in the Italian Job - That digi safe cracking is pretty hardcore.

Geeksugar: Is there one particular blogger you really look up to?
Jean: Regina from We Make Money Not Art. Her blog back in 2004 got me through my i-Design grad program in Milan. Her daily doses of tech meets art inspiration were that extra boost I needed to keep on top on the most innovative and playful projects internationally, and perhaps she's even part of how I ended up starting NOTCOT as a source of design inspiration...


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