Hi, I'm Mek

Michael E. Karpeles (Mek)

Born Michael E. Karpeles (Mek)
July 31, 1988 (age )
New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality American
Occupation Program Lead on OpenLibrary.org at the Internet Archive
Email hi@mek.fyi
Github mekarpeles
Facebook michael.karpeles
Twitter @mekarpeles
Linkedin mekarpeles

Mek, born Michael E. Karpeles (Mek) (July 31, 1988), is an American computer scientist, internet entrepreneur, rock climber, and musician. He is a steward of digital rights, public libraries, and an advocate of open access information. He considers himself a knowledge mapping hobbyist and aspires to help people reach fuller potentials by facilitating meaningful access to empowering information. Mek presently serves this mission at Brewster Kahle's non-profit, the Internet Archive (we're hiring!), where Mek directs OpenLibrary.org in memory of his personal hero, Aaron Swartz.

Mek is notable for wearing a purple shirt branded with his name, a concept inspired by Sai. In 2015, Mek started tracking various aspects of his life in a public spreadsheet. He self-identifies as a functional minimalist and has few (but not too few) belongings.

As of July 1, 2021, Mek resides in Nashua, New Hampshire though also splits his time in Somerville, MA at CRUSH house with Rebecca Li and Anvita Pandit.


Previously, from January 15th to May 20th of 2021, Mek lived in Taiwan, Taipei, Ximending. When the COVID pandemic hit, Mek and Ariel Liu moved to Moomin — a community house named after the Moomins television cartoon which featured a similar house — located at 21 Buena Vista Ave E. Before and during the early COVID-19 pandemic, Mek lived in Mission District, San Francisco at Serapeum, an Epicurean community house named after the Serapeum Temple of Alexandria, considered to be the daughter and backup to the great Library of Alexandria). This community house was home to Ariel Liu, Mishal Afzal, Bobi Rakova, Jackson Lester, as well as Drew Winget, Sahar Massachi, and Jessy Diamond Exum.

Early Life

Karpeles was born in New Haven, Connecticut and lived at 190 Shagbark Court in Cheshire, Connecticut (in this room). In third grade, Mek became interested in computer programming after discovering the features of AOL Instant Messenger. Mek attended Cheshire High School and remained in Cheshire until college-bound at 18, at which time his parents, Dr. Richard Karpeles and Patricia Dimond Karpeles, relocated to 21 Wild Rose Drive in Nashua, New Hampshire.


In 2006, Mek attended undergraduate school at the University of Vermont (UVM) and received a bachelors of science in Computer Science. Here he led the Computer Science Student Association (CSSA) under advisory of Xindong Wu, Christian Skalka, and Joshua Bongard and met mentor, Dr. Gary Johnson, as well as friend and future business partner, Stephen Balaban. While at UVM, Mek was twice awarded the ACM Faculty award by the Department of Computer Science. During his junior year, as officers of the CSSA, Mek and Gary Johnson earned the opportunity to design and co-instruct a CS-095/CS-195 Special Topics course for three consecutive semesters. During his tenure at UVM, Mek interned at Microstrain, a wireless sensor company which later became LORD Sensing Systems. Much of his work relied on Aaron Swartz's web.py framework. In 2010, after graduation, Mek enthusiastically joined a PhD program at the University of Delaware to study computational linguistics. He was a teaching assistant for Richard Gordon's CISC 355 Computers, Ethics, and Society class and researched under Dr. Stephen Siegel in the Verified Software Laboratory.


Shortly after, Mek suspended his graduate program to join Stephen Balaban as co-founder and CTO of Baybo Labs, a service which enabled self-publishers to create online stores to sell their digital merchandise. The team moved to San Francisco and in 2011 was acquired by Hyperink, a publishing startup from YCombinator's Winter 2011 batch where Mek spent the next year leading development of their hyperink.com platform. In 2013 Mek served a stint as ark.com's VP of Engineering before co-founding Hackerlist with Andrew Valish in 2013.

Presentations, Podcasts, & Interviews

  1. 2021-11-13 A Learning Map: Navigating Books Without Borders (slides)
  2. 2021-10-26 Open Library Community Celebration 2021 (slides)
  3. 2021-04-30 Reading Between the Lines: How Community & Tech are helping the Internet Archive capture the essence of a Book's Genome (slides)
  4. 2021-03-03 Office hours with Taiwan's Digital Minister, Audrey Tang (see 5 key learnings)
  5. 2020-11-14 Aaron Swartz Day 2020 - HOWTO: Building a Library in the Matrix (video) (slides)
  6. 2020-10-22 Open Library Community Celebration 2020 (slides)
  7. 2020-09-04 Internet Archive: Growing Open Source Community (slides)
  8. 2020-07-28 HOPE 2020: On Doing Good Enough
  9. 2020-05-17 Big Thoughts Little Talks. Episode 3: Mek on OpenLibrary.org and using technology to enable open access to information
  10. 2019-02-05 Open Library with Mek (What Origin Podcast)
  11. 2019-01-08 Decentralized Web Meetup
  12. 2017-11-04 Aaron Swartz Day 2017
  13. 2016-06-09 Decentralized Web Summit: Archive Labs
  14. 2015-03-16 SuperHappyDevHouse #53 Lightning Talks
  15. 2012-03-05 AngelHack 2012 SF


Want to meaningfully contribute to one of these projects?


  1. Openlibrary.org I currently maintain Open Library, the world's largest online, open-source, non-profit digital public library w/ 3M+ books. Become a contributor!
  2. BookGenomeProject.org Like Pandora for books, a community and technology-powered data processor for revealing a book's unique characteristics
  3. Peanutsforgood.org We produce made-to-order peanut butter and use proceeds to feed SF's needy. Buy a jar (or 2)!
  4. Graph.global (video) aims to become a distributed global semantic database of unique entities (people, places, things) accessible by the entire World Wide Web. #memex We're open source!
  5. Skillsera.org A community-powered encyclopedia which teaches educational concepts by connecting bite-sized youtube video explanations. We're open source & non-profit!
  6. Archive Labs an autonomous, volunteer-run community (of 170) which incubate open-access and public good projects. Request an invite!
  7. FromScrat.ch (pre-alpha) A wiki of composable, modular, axiomatic recipes for comprehensively creating fundamental technologies from scratch.


  1. Hackerlist.net & Upscale spin-up an elastic team of AI software scientists
  2. Miley.io (defunct) is the free, milestone driven, multi-project manager for ambitious people.
  3. Open Journal Foundation unites institutions in universalizing public access to open journals & academic papers. Join working group!
  4. WhyLoop Recursive explanations down to axioms.
  5. Imperatives Make the world objectively better for everyone. Act on the most urgent imperatives.
  6. Todo.rip (alpha) is a free, light-weight, frictionless, rolling todo list with slack-like commands
  7. Dissertate.org (concept) Publish your directed path of academic readings to get to a conclusion
  8. Math.mx is a zoomable taxonomy of thousands of math topics. Read the long term goal
  9. Groovebox.org Listen to archive.org's collection of 135,000 live concerts, hundreds of albums and thousands of artists for free.
  10. Baybo An all-in-one online platform for selling digital goods


  1. Stomp #foot-keyboard #usb #microcontroller
  2. Experimental Browser #browser
  3. Historia (Provenance) #chrome-extension
  4. Enpy (English to Python Parser) #python #english #parser
  5. Dungeons #MUD


For a full list of essays, please view here

  1. A Synthesis
  2. Universal Knowledge

    1. The Uncertain Future of American Libraries
    2. On Books (2016-10-29)
    3. Standardized Testing and the Consequences of Guessing (2017-04-08)
    4. EPIC: An Improved Ecosystem for Literate Research (RFC) (2016-01-11)
    5. A Version Controlled Word-Wide-Web (RFC)
    6. The Problems of Academic Publishing
    7. Towards World Wide Web 2.0
    8. The Web in 2040
    9. The Decentralized-Centralized Web
    10. Universal Messaging Protocol for All
    11. Towards a Universal Todo List
    12. Where Google Falls Short
  3. Epistemology

    1. EPIC: An Improved Ecosystem for Literate Research (RFC)
    2. A Version Controlled Word-Wide-Web (RFC)
    3. Types of Questions
  4. Philosophy

    1. Curbing Your Enthusiasm
    2. On Friendship
    3. How I Think (in progress)
    4. On Spending Money (2017-04-15)
    5. Incompleteness Theorem Doesn't Mean "Stop Trying" (2015-05-03)
    6. Computing as a Way of Life (in progress)
    7. Types of Questions
  5. Software

    1. Front-end Bible 2019 (2019-07-04)
    2. Guide: On Becoming a Programmer (2019-06-20)
    3. What the Browser is Missing
    4. Screen v. Tmux
    5. Towards a Universal Todo List
    6. Too Many Browser Tabs [SOLVED]
    7. Automate Away Repetitive Web Tasks
  6. Self Improvement & Reflection

    1. On Effective Procrastination
    2. The People Who Have Shaped Me
    3. On Reaching Inaccessible People (2017-05-28)
    4. On Strategies for Attention Defecit Disorder [ADD] (2017-05-28)
    5. The Road to Doing Good Work
    6. Amplifying Productivity through Environment
  7. Science

    1. Exploring "equivalence" of Biology and Boolean Logic
  8. Political Essays

    1. Software Protocols Are Modern Warfare (2018-09-13)
    2. Capitalism or Socialism? (2017-11-15 Wed)
    3. Treatise on Change
    4. Debt & Taxes (2015-12-02)
    5. Towards More Efficient Political Voting
    6. The Challenges of Immigration
    7. Kicking the Bucket
  9. Research & Curations

    1. Life Lessons
    2. Resources for Learning Chinese
    3. Full Stack From Scratch
    4. Preventing Global and Existential Catastrophe
    5. A Map of All Mathematics
    6. Universal Knowledge
    7. The Laws of Science
    8. The Foundation(s) of Great Inventions
    9. (An Attempt at) A Unified Theory of the Universe
    10. Neurology & The Brain
    11. The Best Textbooks (also Internet Archive Select Works)
    12. Essays to Write
  10. Creative Writing

    1. Quintet A book I am casually writing. (notes and more notes)

Music & Art

You can listen to Mek's music recordings on soundcloud or in this legacy collection. You can also browse his lyrics and poetry. You can also browse a list of some of my favorite songs and performances.

Music Videos

The innagural performance of Katz & Mekfunkel

Improvising Peter Hollen's, "Misty Mountain" from Lord of the Rings

Mek covering, "Yesterday" by the Beatles

Mek covering, "Landlocked Blues" by Bright Eyes

Mek covering, "At the Zoo" by Simon and Garfunkel

"Close Your Eye", by James Taylor

"Song for the Asking", by Simon & Garfunkel

Rock Climbing

Mek is a v11 bouldering amateur who is informally sponsored by Skippy™ Peanut Butter. He uses their vouchers to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for San Francisco's needy. You may find Mek climbing at Mission Cliffs most days around 7pm. Mek is apart of a ad-hoc Touchstone climbing league called Team Try Hard coached by Austin Lee

Food & Cooking


I've made more than 250 pizzas

Rice bowls

Breakfast & Dessert


Making spicy hand-pulled noodles in 15 minutes