I’m Nikhil Sonnad. (Who?) I write words, code, and music. Here’s some of my work.

Music for Your Mind Vol. 1

Music for Lobster Theremin, 2020

My friend Brian Abelson and myself, going as Fire Escape, have a track on Lobster Theremin's compilation Music for Your Mind Vol. 1. All proceeds go to Black Minds Matter, which offers free mental health resources in the UK.

Because China: How the world's newest superpower is changing everything

Video for Quartz, 2019

Over a year's worth of on- and off-camera reporting for a video series I helped create, on how China is reshaping the world. Including stories from Kenya, Malaysia, Zambia, and Brazil.

Four days, 170,000 people, and one Metallica concert later, I figured out what Salesforce is

Reportage for Quartz, 2018

A gonzo account of the cult of enterprise software.

Everything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason

Essay for Quartz, 2018

A philosophical analysis of Facebook's fundamental failing.

Tea if by sea, cha if by land: Why the world only has two words for tea

Data journalism for Quartz, 2018

Etymology reveals a map of early globalization.

Xi Jinping is not the "president" of China

Text for Quartz, 2017

Linguistic-political analysis of a frequent mistranslation.

All the “wellness” products Americans love to buy are sold on both Infowars and Goop

Investigation for Quartz, 2017

I dove into the offerings of both Goop and Infowars and found many similarities.

How do you draw a circle? We analyzed 100,000 drawings to show how culture shapes our instincts

Data journalism for Quartz, 2017

Dove into big Google data with Thu-Huong Ha to reveal a deep cultural preference.

A 103-year-old lexicographer has spent a century thinking about one of India’s oldest languages

Profile for Quartz, 2017

Interview with Ganjam Venkatasubbaiah about his long life of studying Kannada.

Wikipedia’s great experiment: Finding a definition of “happiness” we can all agree on

Philosophical data analysis for Quartz, 2017

I created a tool to quickly compare changes to a Wikipedia page, in this case the one on "Happiness," to see how crowdsourcing deals with humanity's great questions.

What Steve Bannon really wants

Text for Quartz, 2017

Shortly after Trump's inauguration, Steve Bannon was the wild card in the Trump administration. Gwynn Guilford and I uncovered his bizarre and epic political philosophy.

The great American word mapper

Data journalism, graphics for Quartz, 2016

Interactive web app that allows users to search for any of the top 100,000 words used on Twitter (as of 2016), and see where they are used in the continental US. This project is used by many academics and instructors in linguistics.

A eulogy for What.cd, the greatest music collection in the history of the world—until it vanished

Essay for Quartz, 2016

The tragedy of removing the internet's greatest music-piracy website.

The long, incredibly tortuous, and fascinating process of creating a Chinese font

Reportage for Quartz, 2015

Reporting from Taiwan on an incredible design challenge.

This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of

Text for Quartz, 2015

The genius of the _Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy_.

See where ‘Go Set a Watchman’ overlaps with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ word-for-word

Data analysis for Quartz, 2015

When Harper Lee's "new" novel came out, Keith Collins and I wanted to know just how new it was.

Happy lunar new year! But is it the year of the sheep or something else?

Text for Quartz, 2015

An etymological dive into the Lunar New Year.

Hacked emails reveal China’s elaborate and absurd internet propaganda machine

Text and data analysis for Quartz, 2014

I spoke to a Chinese hacker who had obtained thousands of emails from a Chinese propaganda department, translated them, and wrote software to analyze them. Then I wrote this piece about what I found.

What fonts tell us about the global economics of the internet

Text for Quartz, 2014

Design-as-development.

Hussain's Journey

Multi for The Global Mail, 2013

A collaborative, multimedia presentation of one refugee's journey from Afghanistan to Australia. I was reposnsible for all the mapping stuff.