Meet Eric Wagoner

Eric Wagoner & Rob Kopf
september 15th, 2017

Eric Wagoner

In this latest post in our interview series, we’d like to introduce you to our own Eric Wagoner, the magnificent man of many talents. He is one of our senior developers.

Name, Company, Title, City

Eric Wagoner, Infinity Interactive, Senior Developer, Athens Georgia

When did you first work with Infinity?

I was lucky enough to be added to the II team in January of 2016.

What are six words you think of when you think of Infinity?

“…maybe you can hire The A-Team”

Ok… I guess I should explain. I loved the A-Team growing up. The bold personalities, the smarts and cleverness, the principles, the cooperation. I wanted to grow up and be part of the Team and when I joined Infinity, I felt like I finally did. We’re not wanted for crimes we didn’t commit, and you rarely have to break one of us out of an asylum, but other than that it’s pretty much exactly the same.

The A-Team

What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current job?

Before I settled down into a career of software development, I had a knack of spinning odd skills into paychecks. It’s hard to think of other jobs that offer the variety of creative problem-solving opportunities I have now, but maybe mad scientist? Junior High teacher? Live theater director? Mountain man? (All things I’ve done before, come to think of it.)

I thought you’d say “join the circus,” given your love of trapeze…

Yes, trapeze. I took trapeze classes for almost four years. The classes are taught by Canopy Studio, a model for aerial performance groups across the country. It was founded out of a performing dance trapeze troupe started by a former Cirque performer and some folks from the UGA dance department. (Athens attracts all sorts of eclectic creative people, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed here twenty years.) I recently had to curtail my time up in the ropes, thanks to a decades-old shoulder injury, but I hope to get past that and climb back up there again soon.

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

I’ve come to terms with it being my lot in life to do chores, so I don’t get too hung up about it now. I can still remember, though, how much I hated one of my childhood chores. I grew up way out in the country with a menagerie of outdoor animals, and one of my chores was to take care of the three horses. We didn’t have a barn for them, or any shelter at all. Before school I had to get up and put on my “scruffy” clothes and go outside to feed and water them. After school I had to change out of my good school clothes back into the scruffy clothes and go feed and water them again. I know now it couldn’t have been true, but it seemed like every morning it was the worst thunderstorm I’d ever seen and every afternoon it was the worst humid mugginess ever. I loved the horses but I hated having to go out there and stand over their feed buckets while they were eating, trying not to let the mud and rain in. It was the worst, and I swore I’d never have horses when I grew up.

I still haven’t, but every now and again, I kind of want to have horses.

Atreyu pulling Artax in the Swamp of Sadness

What are six words to describe technology in your work? In your life?

Practical, well considered, pleasure to use.

I do enjoy leisurely things like console gaming and stuff like that, but what really gets me excited is practical technology that helps us achieve more. I like to build software that takes the drudgery out of tasks (without adding drudgery of another sort). I like hardware that is elegant, reliable, and useful. I’m a sucker for contraptions and devices for manual labor too, like a well-crafted apple peeler.

What technology do you (realistically) look forward to arriving in the next 5 years? What if it didn’t have to be realistic?

Wearable tech and augmented reality has me excited. I used to think it’d be wonderful when the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy became a real thing, and the arrival of smartphones suddenly made it so. And it turns out that’s just the tip of the iceberg — accessing information on our pocket screens takes us out of interaction with the world around us for a bit and keeps it a separate thing. Augmented reality and personal sensors have the potential to give us relevant information without us having to disengage with our surroundings, and I love that potential. We won’t get there in five years, but it’ll be really interesting as we take the first few steps toward getting there.

How do you recharge?

Mainly by growing things and then eating them. Both gardening and cooking are hobbies of mine, enough so that over time my garden grew into a small market farm. I like to grow unusual things, varieties I can’t get at the grocery store, so when I tried to sell them I had to educate people about why there are orange eggplants, how to cook with red-leafed spinach, and why they should care about twenty different types of potatoes. Not everyone did care in the end, but my enthusiasm was infectious enough that I ended up writing a whole online farmers market system to power my market, and now that’s in use by several hundred other communities. The scale of my garden has shrunk back down again as I’ve gotten older, but digging in the dirt and cooking up fresh ingredients are still my favorite ways to unwind and recharge.

A lemur

Speaking of recharging, tell me about your trip to “Lemur Island”…

My partner Jen spent the first seven months of the year working on the only place outside Madagascar that has free-ranging ring-tail lemurs, Saint Catherines Island, Georgia, and I was able to go visit her twice while she was there. The story of how the lemurs came to roam a Georgia island is long and improbable and involves Life Savers™ candy. She has a blog where she’s written about her time on the island.

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