I’m Dan Visel, and I work at the intersection of publishing, design, and technology.

Do you need an electronic book that’s not terrible? I can make it for you.

If you’re working on an electronic publishing project – or about to start working on such a project – I might be able to help. I’ve been thinking about how reading and writing work in electronic environments for years. I have plenty of experience writing, editing, designing, and developing complex multimedia projects. I’ve made books, websites, and iOS and Android apps.

More importantly, I can help conceptualizing projects and navigating the space of technologies, which can be unnecessarily complicated for those who don’t work at it full time. You could think of me as a technologist who can talk to ordinary people; or as an ordinary person who knows how to talk to technologists. At the moment I’m based in Singapore, though I’m used to working remotely, and I’m regularly in North America. Let me know if you’re interested in talking about a project: I might be interested!

Right now I’m most interested in building complex reading environments on the web and in mobile environments. I’ve used a wide range of web technologies, though most of what I’m doing is based around presenting information through client-side JavaScript ES6, HTML5, and CSS3. I’ve spent a lot of time with CMSes (WordPress, Drupal, Moveable Type, Keystone) and makup languages old and new (LaTeX, Markdown, XML, SGML). Off the web, I’ve made things with Processing, Arduino, and Python. I’ve made apps for the iOS and Android platforms and have apps for sale in the Apple, Google Play, and Amazon app stores.

If I haven’t used it, I’m happy to figure it out.

Current projects

Southeast Asian Archaeological Site Reports; described in the Straits Times here. Working with the National University of Singapore Press, I developed a web app to help put archaeological “grey literature” – unpublished site reports – online. The app is client-side Node using Webpack (and may be released as open-source software as a module on NPM); tools allow conversion and editing of datasets in multiple formats.

Cross Dante. This is a project to present texts online in multiple translations: I wanted to read Dante, but I wanted to read across the different translations available in English, as well as having reference to the Italian original. The project is online here, and Android apps of the different books of the Divine Comedy can be found here, here, and here; iOS versions are here, here, and here. The code is not text-specific and could be used for any translation project: it’s available here.

Screentakes. I built interactive electronic books for Screentakes.com on film script analysis that work on both the web and mobile platforms which also allow group comenting for classroom use. I used HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to construct the books, and Apache Cordova to deploy to iOS and Android mobile platforms; the online store component is currently built on WordPress. Apps are currently in the iOS and Google Play stores; the books are also for sale in web-streaming versions. Behind the scenes, I built a number of different tools to enable content creators to put the books together and streamline creation.

Democritus Jr. Jr.. This is a tiny IOS/Android app (Apple, Google Play, Kindle Fire app store) that takes the text of Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy and turns it into a kind of sortes Vergilianae for use in personal divination.

Past projects

Unfold. I was a co-founder of Unfold, a Los Angeles-based startup mapping opinion on the web. I was responsible for the initial design and product management, among many other things.

Sophie. I spent a great deal of time in the early 2000s working on Sophie and Sophie 2, projects for electronic book making and reading software. Sophie was a project of the Institute for the Future of the Book in collaboration with USC and the Mellon Foundation. The first version was written in Smalltalk; the second was done in Java. I wrote specifications, designed UI and UX, documentation for both projects, along with project management, bug tracking, and testing as needed.

My work in publishing started as a book designer, and to a certain extent that’s still how I think of myself, though what constitutes a book (and what constitutes book design!) has grown more nebulous with time. Here are some of the projects that I’ve worked on:

Current projects

Past projects

Print work

Among the print work that I’m proud of is the design and layout for Circumference, a journal of poetry in facing-page translation. Images soon!

Web-based projects

These projects were done in a variety of electronic media, some just to test out different software.

Sophie-based projects

These projects were constructed in Sophie 1, which can be downloaded here; it should still work. Download and unzip them; they can be opened in Sophie Reader or Sophie Author. If using Sophie Author, make sure that the application is in test mode first.

I’ve done a lot of writing over the years! I’m in the process of writing a book about reading, though that’s taking a while. Here are other things I’ve written, split into categories.

Print publications

Online publications

Interviews/co-authored pieces

Talks & Panels


if:book pieces

I wrote many pieces for if:book, the Institute for the Future of the Book’s blog. At some point, I’ll annotate the ones that I still find interesting.

I’m interested in a lot of things! Here are some people whose work I am interested in, in no particular order: Jane Bowles. John Ashbery. Marcel Duchamp. Raymond Roussel. Marcel Proust. Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Donald Barthelme. William Gaddis. Gianfranco Baruchello. Anna Maria Ortese. Terre Thaemlitz. James Joyce. Gertrude Stein. Paul Metcalf. Georges Perec. Stanely Crawford. Tan Lin. James McCourt. William Morris. Jan Tshichold. Ray Johnson. Robert Walser. Sergio De La Pava. Alison Knowles. Henry Green. Guy Davenport. C. S. Peirce. Fernando Pessoa. Heinrich von Kleist. Daniel Spoerri. Herman Melville. Julio Cortázar. Ronald Johnson. Ross McElwee. Carlo Levi. Chris Marker. Agnès Varda. Andrey Tarkovsky. Éric Rohmer. Stan Brakhage. Fr. Rolfe. Thomas Browne. W. G. Sebald. Michel Butor. Alice Coltrane. Guy Maddin. Joseph McElroy. Eleanor Antin. Giorgio Morandi. Scott Walker. Florian Fricke. Robert Wyatt. Moritz von Oswald.

Some magazines that I have liked, mostly in the past: Dot Dot Dot. Nest. Razorcake. FMR. Fantastic Man. The Sienese Shredder. FAQNP. I’m a contributing editor at Triple Canopy, and I think that’s a fine magazine, though I might be biased.

You can get a sense of what I’m up to at the moment by visiting withhiddennoise.net.

Please note that I’m in Singapore, and the time here is UTC+08:00.