Jon Evans

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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  • 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

  • Apps Have Got Your Back

    Apps Have Got Your Back

    Who needs governments? The ongoing trend toward mobile, social and crowdsourcing apps has led to a wealth of new community-based resources that support or supplant traditional civic and government services. Think Kickstarter instead of the NEA or Canada Council. Or consider the new Circle of 6 app, which is intended to help prevent violence before it happens, by letting users reach out to… Read More

  • When Code Is Hot

    When Code Is Hot

    Suddenly programming is sexy. Codecademy is drawing hundreds of thousands to its online programming tutorials. “Those jumping on board say they are preparing for a future in which the Internet is the foundation for entertainment, education and nearly everything else … ensuring that they are not left in the dark ages,” says a recent New York Times piece. The NYT’s… Read More

  • So Long, And Thanks For All The Quantum Research

    So Long, And Thanks For All The Quantum Research

    I’d like to be an optimist, like Matt Burns. I really would. Like Research In Motion itself, I was born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario. Like its former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, I studied electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo. I’ve seen RIM transform my home town over the years, giving it new parks, new buildings, huge bequests for the university, and the Perimeter… Read More

  • Women, Tech, And Tone

    Women, Tech, And Tone

    Earlier this week a startup named Geeklist was called out on Twitter for a promotional video which apparently featured a woman dancing around in her underwear. (I say “apparently” because the video has since been made private.) The Geeklist founders acknowledged that that was problematic — and then, inexplicably, they went right off the rails. Click through that link to see… Read More

  • The September Problem

    The September Problem

    All right. That’s it. You kids come in off my lawn, gather round the table, throw a log on the Nest, and hear now a tale of the dread and fabled Time Before The Web. In the beginning1 there was Usenet, and it was good: online conversations ordered by topic, built around ongoing threads rather than individual posts, so that they could and often did last for months. Then came the Web. Read More

  • Save Helpless Faraway Africans From The Comfort Of Your Armchair!

    Save Helpless Faraway Africans From The Comfort Of Your Armchair!

    Wow. I never dreamed that I’d have a legitimate excuse to write a TechCrunch post about Joseph Kony, the crazed Ugandan warlord whose Lord’s Resistance Army has been a pet obsession of mine for some years now. The first draft of my thriller set mostly in Uganda and the Congo had a villain loosely based on Kony, but I had to edit him out, basically because he’s far too… Read More

  • Pair Programming Considered Harmful?

    Pair Programming Considered Harmful?

    “We have trained, hired, and rewarded people to be cowboys. But it’s pit crews that we need,” said Atul Gawande — a surgeon and Harvard professor who writes for The New Yorker in his copious spare time — in a recent TED talk. He was talking about doctors, but what tech profession might fit that description as well? Yes, that’s right. You there, huddled over… Read More

  • Sugar Water

    Sugar Water

    “Almost none of the stuff on the radar of the Silicon Valley echo-chamber is innovative or solves any real human needs. They won’t cure anyone of disease, feed a child, improve the environment, or radically improve manufacturing… Pinterest? Quora? Other social apps. It’s all a big distraction, it’s entertainment… It’s all well and fine to pursue… Read More

  • I Have Seen The Future, And Its Sky Is Full Of Eyes

    I Have Seen The Future, And Its Sky Is Full Of Eyes

    Allow me just a little self-congratulatory chest-beating. Four years ago I started writing a near-fiction thriller about the risks of swarms of UAVs in the wrong hands. Everyone I talked to back then (including my agent, alas) thought the subject was implausible, even silly. Well, it’s not like I’m the next Vernor Vinge — it always seemed like a pretty blatantly obvious… Read More

  • Is Facebook Finally Going To Do Something Interesting?

    Is Facebook Finally Going To Do Something Interesting?

    I can think of few subjects less interesting than Facebook’s forthcoming IPO. There, I said it. I honestly don’t get what the big deal is. So a few thousand people will finally liquidize their locked-up wealth, and the hoi polloi will at last be able to buy Facebook shares. Stop the presses! (It won’t meaningfully affect their ability to buy other companies; they already have… Read More

  • Algorithms/Data vs. Analysts/Reports: Fight!

    Algorithms/Data vs. Analysts/Reports: Fight!

    Quick, what’s the second most traded commodity in the world, after oil? Sorry, no: it’s not coffee. In fact, while hard data is scant, it may well be — of all things — carbon. No, really. According to the World Bank (PDF) , the global carbon market was worth a whopping 1.42 Facebooks US$142 billion in 2010. Mind you, it’s not like container ships weighed down to… Read More

  • iNdustrial Revolutions

    iNdustrial Revolutions

    To paraphrase Otto von Bismarck, “iPads are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” It’s an ugly story. Over a hundred employees “injured by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause nerve damage and paralysis” because its use “meant workers could clean more screens each minute.” Other workers killed or injured by explosions. All so… Read More