Jon Evans

Jon Evans is a novelist, journalist, and software engineer. His novels have been published around the world, translated into several languages, and praised by The Times, The Economist, and the Washington Post. His journalism has appeared in Wired, Reader’s Digest, The Guardian, The Globe & Mail, and The Times of India, and he writes a weekly column for TechCrunch. Jon also has a degree in electrical engineering and a decade of experience as a software developer, building everything from smartphone apps to billion-dollar asset-allocation services.

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  • Apple’s Patent Win Is Bad For Us All

    Apple’s Patent Win Is Bad For Us All

    Look, I get it. It’s a great story, maybe the greatest in the history of American business. From Day One, Apple did things the right way: clean, elegant, beautiful. But they were brought to their knees by Microsoft’s colossal mediocrity. Their visionary founder was forced out. They teetered on the brink. And then–bam! They were saved (ironically, by Microsoft.) They… Read More

  • What Happens When Pollsters Are No Better Than Psychics?

    What Happens When Pollsters Are No Better Than Psychics?

    I’m going to get a little political here, but bear with me, this is a tech post in the end. I’m in the midst of a trip from my new home in Berkeley, through my old stomping grounds in New York City, to my hometown in Canada. Politically, almost everyone in all three places falls in one of two camps: either they view the US Republican Party as evil incarnate, or (like me)… Read More

  • Move Along, No Panopticon To See Here

    Move Along, No Panopticon To See Here

    Last week Wikileaks–remember them?–released a sheaf of documents about the Trapwire security system, which, depending on who you believe, is either a network of cameras being used to spy on everyone everywhere, or an ineffective bust more notable for shady business practices than any successful surveillance. Is it being used for “monitoring every single person via facial… Read More

  • In Defense Of The High-Frequency Hackers

    In Defense Of The High-Frequency Hackers

    It’s a potential “doomsday machine.” It’s “quite literally out of control.” Hedge fund managers and Nobel winners say it should be banned. Others insist it should at least be regulated. Its practitioners are “parasites.” Mark Cuban says they are “the ultimate hackers,” who “scared the hell out of me.” Last week they wiped… Read More

  • Facebooking While Rome Burns

    Facebooking While Rome Burns

    I’m an optimist, I really am, especially when it comes to technology and its ability to transform the world. But today I can’t shake the feeling that we as a species are really screwing up. Guess what? “There is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem.” How’s that for depressing? Meanwhile, even those few scientists who previously doubted that climate… Read More

  • In Praise Of Quick And Filthy

    In Praise Of Quick And Filthy

    To paraphrase the late great David Foster Wallace, did you know that probing the seamy underbelly of software development reveals ideological strife and fanaticism on a nearly Godwin’s-law scale? Did you know that software development even had a seamy underbelly? It does, and its name is PHP, the world’s least-loved but arguably most-used programming language. It’s… Read More

  • The Power Users Are Revolting

    The Power Users Are Revolting

    Digg, which in its heyday was effectively run by its power users, is dying. Wikitravel is probably joining it: two-thirds of its admins want to jump ship to the greener grass of the Wikimedia Foundation. Who in turn have their own people problems–a stubborn gender gap and a diminishing number of active admins. Meanwhile, across the Web, people are asking “Is StackOverflow being… Read More

  • Metastasized Software And Life 3.0

    Metastasized Software And Life 3.0

    “Center for Digital Archaeology,” said the banner above one of the startups at the Funders and Founders Life 3.0 demo show, and for a moment I got excited, thinking of Vernor Vinge‘s software archaeologists. It wasn’t quite that. Instead, Codifi was a “solution for turning cultural heritage datasets and rich media into web- and mobile-ready interactive… Read More

  • Heads Up! This Was Google’s Apple Moment

    Heads Up! This Was Google’s Apple Moment

    It looked like the X Games, but it was the most significant product launch of the decade so far. For the first time, Google did what Apple has done thrice, with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Granted, Apple announces products that ship immediately, while Google merely allowed a few thousand I/O attendees to pre-order a beta version that wouldn’t ship until next year; but don’t let… Read More

  • Whither, Hollywood, Wither?

    Whither, Hollywood, Wither?

    Last week I wrote about television; this week I’ve been thinking about Hollywood. Not least because a screenwriter with a pretty good track record recently attached himself to my squirrel book1 and is hoping to adapt it into a big animated movie. But it often takes five years or more to go from script to screen, so I can’t help wondering–will Hollywood as we know it still… Read More

  • Only Messi Can Save Us Now

    Only Messi Can Save Us Now

    What’s wrong with this picture? It’s 2012, cheap broadband is ubiquitous in the developed world, and TV still isn’t dead. In fact it’s thriving. Sure, for the first time ever, Nielsen says more people watch videos on the Internet than on a TV–albeit barely–but if you look at how much time is spent on the two, there’s no comparison: TV utterly dominates. Read More

  • Notes From The Ebook Trenches

    Notes From The Ebook Trenches

    I keep a close and interested eye on the world of ebooks, and I’m pleased to report that it keeps getting weirder. British supermarket chain Sainsbury – who I worked for once, helping to program a new payroll system for a few months, until they scrapped the whole project – recently bought HMV’s share in ebook hub Anobii for a whopping, er, one pound. (Americans… Read More

  • In Five Years, Most Africans Will Have Smartphones

    In Five Years, Most Africans Will Have Smartphones

    Feature phones are not the future. Of course that verges on tautology; of course everyone will have a smartphone, until everyone has something smaller and better and even more integrated into the fabric of our lives, like Google Glasses or cybernetic jawbone/retinal implants or whatever Charles Stross dreams up next. But when, exactly? I’ve spent a good chunk of my life wandering around… Read More

  • Bashing Facebook For All The Wrong Reasons

    Bashing Facebook For All The Wrong Reasons

    So Facebook’s IPO was a disaster. Or maybe it wasn’t. Yes, it was an utter fiasco. No, wait: “The debacle was not the IPO but all the whining by speculators who didn’t make money.” Nope, it was “the flop of the decade“, the worst first week of any IPO in years. Au contraire: “What we have here is an investment banker acting ethically. And the… Read More

  • Selling Software That Kills

    Selling Software That Kills

    The government of Syria uses made-in-California technology from BlueCoat Systems to censor the Internet and spy on its pro-democracy activists (who are regularly arrested and tortured, not to mention slaughtered wholesale.) McAfee and Nokia Siemens have done the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Amesys of France and FinFisher of the UK aided brutal dictators in Egypt and Libya. Read More

  • In Which The Maker Faire Restores Your Humble Correspondent’s Faith In Humanity

    In Which The Maker Faire Restores Your Humble Correspondent’s Faith In Humanity

    A life-size fire-breathing dragon. A fully robotic calliope band. A full-scale flight simulator built by teenagers. An entire herd of homemade R2-D2s. Electric cars, steampunk fashion, a robot petting zoo, a piano made of bananas, and a cardboard Trojan Horse. Plus a zillion different interactive attractions, classes, and events for kids of all ages. Yes, the Maker Faire is back in town, and… Read More

  • No Shortcuts, No Mercy: The Bloodsport Of Recruitment

    No Shortcuts, No Mercy: The Bloodsport Of Recruitment

    One year ago I wrote an article called “Why The New Guy Can’t Code,” about how the industry-standard process for hiring software engineers is broken, shortsighted, and counterproductive. It remains my most-read TC post. Of course, I was far from the first to say so, and even farther from the last; every few weeks a similar rant bubbles onto the home page of Hacker News. And… Read More

  • Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Xobot

    Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Xobot

    Poor old Android is having a bad year. (Especially compared to last year.) Apple’s iPhone is soaring in China, and apparently overtaking Android in the crucial American market. Oracle’s lawsuit against Google has led to several rather awkward claims, eg that the word ‘license’ in the phrase “we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need”… Read More

  • Interview: John Robb

    Interview: John Robb

    John Robb is an astronautical engineer turned US Air Force Special Operations pilot turned Forrester lead analyst turned startup CTO/COO turned military theorist and author, to oversimplify. His writing has heavily influenced my own (eg you’ll find his phrase “open source insurgency” several times in my novel Swarm.) He blogs at Global Guerrillas and edits Resilient… Read More

  • Voldemort’s Got Nothing On Jeff Bezos

    Voldemort’s Got Nothing On Jeff Bezos

    E-books. Again. Amazon and the DOJ vs. Apple and “The Big Six.” The future of reading. A breathtakingly stupid David Carr piece in the New York Times, which thankfully someone else took down paragraph-by-paragraph, so I don’t have to. Elsewhere, an awesome quote which I want to cheer with the force of a million choirs of angels: I am completely unmoved by the argument that… Read More