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. CrunchBase profile →

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  • Zuck Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good, So Be Good For Goodness’ Sake

    Zuck Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good, So Be Good For Goodness’ Sake

    Like everyone else I am shocked, shocked!, to learn that Facebook’s latest policy switch was one which will lead to users posting more public data. This time it’s teenagers, who now “have the choice to post publicly on Facebook.” which they didn’t before. Why? Simple: as the NYT puts it, “fundamentally, Facebook wants to encourage more public sharing, not… Read More

  • The Panopticon Is Extremely Convenient (So Use Facebook, Google, And Chrome)

    The Panopticon Is Extremely Convenient (So Use Facebook, Google, And Chrome)

    I write from the Philippines, where a phone has just been released which, if stolen, can be remotely triggered to repeatedly scream “Thief! Thief! Thief!” Back home, BART riders have been hearing: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your train operator. If you have any electronic devices with you, please make sure they are secure, especially if you are near the exits.” Read More

  • Meet The New Serfs, Same As The Old Serfs

    Meet The New Serfs, Same As The Old Serfs

    Once upon a time there were things called jobs, and they were well understood. People went to work for companies, in offices or in factories. There were exceptions — artists, aristocrats, entrepeneurs — but they were rare. Laws, regulations, and statistics were based on this assumption; but, increasingly, what people do today doesn’t fit neatly into that anachronistic… Read More

  • The Genius Of Twitter: A Paean

    The Genius Of Twitter: A Paean

    It’s the first app I launch in the morning, and the first I install on a new phone, and my most-visited web site. Which is strange, because I don’t much like most social media. I’m on Facebook only reluctantly; 90% of my posts there are automatic reposts from my tweet stream. I want to like Google+, but I keep failing. Twitter, though, is the hub of my online life. Now… Read More

  • ‘Scuse Me While I Solve This Immigration Problem

    ‘Scuse Me While I Solve This Immigration Problem

    There’s a crippling STEM talent shortage out there, stalking the streets of Silicon Valley; just ask any Valley executive in the choir crying out for immigration reform. But the IEEE, PBS, and Fortune — an odd triumvirate if ever I saw one — disagree, singing back their own united refrain: “The STEM shortage is a myth!” And, as usual, everyone is wrong. Read More

  • Wait, When Did Software Become So Boring?

    Wait, When Did Software Become So Boring?

    Maybe I’m just jaded and cranky. But as I wandered through Startup Alley at Disrupt this week, and even as I watched many of the Battlefield contestants, I found myself fighting eye-glazing ennui. Apps and services that help you connect and collaborate with others. Tools which help you build or use apps and services that help you connect and collaborate with others. Sigh. Been there. Read More

  • It’s Almost Time To Throw Out Your Books

    It’s Almost Time To Throw Out Your Books

    The near-unthinkable has happened. The dinosaurs are finally evolving. The publishing industry’s long war against technology, the future, and its customers may finally be coming to a close. Read More

  • The Mediated Life Is Not Worth Living

    The Mediated Life Is Not Worth Living

    I spent last week in Black Rock City, where on Saturday night I and 60,000 others stood within a ring of hundreds of vehicles transformed into spectacular art, and watched a gargantuan wooden effigy erupt, burn, and collapse, amid one of the most dazzling fireworks displays in ever. It was quite a moment. And I looked at the crowd around me and I thought to myself: what is wrong with these people? Read More

  • Jobs, Robots, Capitalism, Inequality, And You

    Jobs, Robots, Capitalism, Inequality, And You

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe the “widening gap between rich and poor” is temporary. Maybe the steady growth in the proportion of jobs that are part-time and/or low-paid will soon reverse. Or maybe the idea that all the homeless need are old laptops and a few JavaScript textbooks is not unlike the claim that new technologies automatically create new… Read More

  • The Internet: We’re Doing It Wrong

    The Internet: We’re Doing It Wrong

    This week Facebook’s ban-bot went berserk; Github went down; and all Google services collapsed for a few minutes, taking 40% of the Internet with them. Just another week on the Internet, then. We love our centralized services, until they let us down. Bruce Sterling calls them “the Stacks”: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft. In his most recent (always riveting) State… Read More

  • The Future Of Work: Amazon vs. Zappos

    The Future Of Work: Amazon vs. Zappos

    Twenty years ago Tony Hsieh was part of the three-man Harvard team that won the hyper-prestigious ACM Programmming Contest. Five years later he sold LinkExchange to Microsoft for more than $250 million. Then he sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion, while retaining operational independence. Now he’s trying to make the desert bloom. And if he fails, we’re probably all in big trouble. Read More

  • What Happens At Def Con Stays With Us All

    What Happens At Def Con Stays With Us All

    There’s nothing like attendance at the annual Black Hat and DefCon security/hacker conferences to hike your paranoia into the red zone and keep it there forever. You come away with the sense that nothing, anywhere, ever, is safe–and that’s just from talks given by people willing to publicize their work. Compared to the secret legions of the NSA and other governments’… Read More

  • The Business Of Fear

    The Business Of Fear

    I spent much of this week at the Black Hat information security conference, after attending the head of the NSA’s keynote speech; and I am pleased to report, O my readers, that here in Las Vegas I have finally achieved enlightenment. That being: the fundamental problem with the National Security Agency, which it shares with most “security” companies, is that it’s not… Read More

  • The American Nightmare

    The American Nightmare

    Inside a casino whose theme is an empire that collapsed into venal decadence, middle-aged computer-security professionals clutching plastic cups half-full of free Veuve Clicquot line up to collect VIP nightclub passes. Outside, teenagers who live in tunnels beg on the pedestrian overpasses. Earlier, the man turning today’s empire into a surveillance state was met with warm applause. Read More

  • NSA Director: Don’t Worry, Trust Us

    NSA Director: Don’t Worry, Trust Us

    General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, gave the keynote speech at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas today. It was more interesting than I expected. Not for the speech itself, which contained zero bombshells–a transcript and video should be up on the Black Hat site fairly soon, for those interested–or for the questions. There was exactly one non-pre-filtered… Read More

  • Technology And The Ruling Party

    Technology And The Ruling Party

    “Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The sexism needs updating but the sentiment remains true. That’s been all too obvious this week, during which the powers that be did their damnedest to protect their once-secret surveillance programs…while the NSA responded to Freedom Of Information Act requests with the… Read More

  • When Will Doom Come To Hollywood?

    When Will Doom Come To Hollywood?

    Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Tolstoy? Hacks. Beethoven? Bach? Mozart? Wildly overrated. Statistically speaking, at least. It’s a curious fact that while the long-dead titans of literature and music are revered above all others, they were working in a time when the talent pool–the educated population of the planet–was a tiny rounding error compared to today’s. Read More

  • Your App Is Slow Because Our World Is Ending

    Your App Is Slow Because Our World Is Ending

    The meatiest article I ran across on the Internet this week was also–maybe–a harbinger of doom for life as we know it. I mean Drew Crawford’s superb piece Why mobile web apps are slow. It’s long, and somewhat dense, but definitely worth reading if you’re technical enough to follow along. Its upshot: HTML5 apps will be vastly inferior to native apps not just for… Read More

  • Google Plus Is Like Frankenstein’s Monster

    Google Plus Is Like Frankenstein’s Monster

    Your humble correspondent begs your indulgence for this flu-fuelled stream-of-consciousness post, but deadlines wait for no virus, so needs must I expel the contents of my febrile mind onto this screen and thence to yours. To wit: Google Plus is a total mess. You probably knew that already. But you may not have realized that of late it has become an interesting mess…like… Read More

  • Tomorrow’s Surveillance: Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

    Tomorrow’s Surveillance: Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

    Everyone is worried about the wrong things. Since Edward Snowden exposed the incipient NSA panopticon, the civil libertarians are worried that their Internet conversations and phone metadata are being tracked; the national-security conservatives claim to be worried that terrorists will start hiding their tracks; but both sides should really be worried about different things entirely. Read More