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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  • How to kill a golden age

    How to kill a golden age

    So I was sitting in the Theatre of Salt in Florence with my friend Jo discussing golden ages, as one inevitably does when in Florence — it having been the birthplace of that most famous and most consequential of all golden ages, the Renaissance — and I found myself speculating that Silicon Valley’s own ongoing golden age is at real risk of ending soon. I don’t think… Read More

  • The new new things that weren’t

    The new new things that weren’t

    We’re always looking for the New New Thing in tech, since long before Michael Lewis coined the phrase. Often we are entirely too successful. There are so many New New Things — and so many of them fall from the sky like burned-out flares soon enough, to further litter the graveyard of Old New Things. Can we learn from them? Probably. Will we learn from them? Probably not. But… Read More

  • Facebook is broken

    Facebook is broken

    The problem is this: Facebook has become a feedback loop which can and does, despite its best intentions, become a vicious spiral. At Facebook’s scale, behavioral targeting doesn’t just reflect our behavior, it actually influences it. Over time, a service which was supposed to connect humanity is actually partitioning us into fractal disconnected bubbles. The way Facebook’s… Read More

  • Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new internet

    Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new internet

    Bitcoin is up sevenfold, to $2,500, in the last year. Three weeks ago the redoubtable Vinay Gupta, who led Ethereum’s initial release, published an essay entitled “What Does Ether At $100 Mean?” Since then it has doubled. Too many altcoins to name have skyrocketed in value along with the Big Two. ICOs are raking in money hand over fist over bicep. What the hell is going on? Read More

  • Google in, Google out

    Google in, Google out

    Call it the Triumph of the Stacks. I attended Google I/O this week, and saw a lot of cool things: but what really hit home for me, at the keynote and the demos and the developer sessions, was just how dominant Google has become, in so many different domains … and, especially, how its only real competition comes from the four other tech behemoths who dominate our industry’s… Read More

  • Pattern recognition

    Pattern recognition

    I helped work on a thing last weekend that I can’t write about, yet, and then last week I found my way to San Jose for Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, and fine, all right, OK, I’m convinced: Now that the smartphone boom is plateauing, AI/deep learning is the new coal face of technology — and, at least for now, Nvidia bestrides it like many parallel colossi. Read More

  • This dystopia is completely ridiculous

    This dystopia is completely ridiculous

    We live in dark and darkly hilarious times. Our world has grown so bewildering and complicated, in no small part because of the finger jammed on technology’s fast-forward button, that many people have given up trying to make sense of it — or to make sense at all. That’s honestly my only explanation for some of the craziness out in the tech world these days. I once saw… Read More

  • Reasons to be cheerful

    Reasons to be cheerful

    I know, I know, it’s been a rough year. Fury, discord, and hatred seem to be on the rise. The super-elite keep getting richer, while young workers keep getting poorer, and economic mobility has plummeted. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” And yet. Quietly, stubbornly, defying the headlines, bit by bit, around the world, slow… Read More

  • Hope and rapture on West Broadway

    Hope and rapture on West Broadway

    I stared out at San Francisco and wondered if, with the right kind of eyes, someone who wasn’t me could almost see a high and beautiful wave gathering, readying itself to inundate the nation and the world. Read More

  • Stop blaming the tech industry for the world’s problems

    Stop blaming the tech industry for the world’s problems

    Everything we do is terrible, says the trope. We’re oppressive. We’re exploitative. We’re sexist, racist, classist. We cater to the rich and privileged urban elite, while the poor masses fall further behind. How can we possibly claim to be building a better world? Read More

  • Waiting for the new new thing

    Waiting for the new new thing

    The smartphone wars are over, and everybody won. Life without our phones is almost unthinkable. I just spent the last five days on a couple of remote Pacific islands, and every so often I’d look up and see a flower-garlanded local child immersed in a Samsung tablet — and this seemed wholly unremarkable. Read More

  • Why do developers who could work anywhere flock to the world’s most expensive cities?

    Why do developers who could work anywhere flock to the world’s most expensive cities?

    Politicians and economists lament that certain alpha regions — SF, LA, NYC, Boston, Toronto, London, Paris — attract all the best jobs while becoming repellently expensive, reducing economic mobility and contributing to further bifurcation between haves and have-nots. But why don’t the best jobs move elsewhere? Read More

  • Sex and Gor and open source

    Sex and Gor and open source

    A few weeks ago, Dries Buytaert, founder of the popular open-source CMS Drupal, asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal community, “to leave the Drupal project.” Why did he do this? He refuses to say. A huge furor has erupted in response — not least because the reason clearly has much to do with Garfield’s unconventional… Read More

  • Transnational socialism vs. Transnational Socialism

    Transnational socialism vs. Transnational Socialism

    “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel … I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose,” declaimed the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, 21 years ago. Welp. That did not go quite as intended. Instead the Internet seems to have brought us new, networked forms… Read More

  • Bittercoin: true blockchain believers versus the trough of disillusionment

    Bittercoin: true blockchain believers versus the trough of disillusionment

    The last 12 months have seemed an annus horribilis in the cryptocurrency world. The Bitcoin community is still fighting its years-old esoteric-to-an-outsider civil war, and is still nowhere near consensus; Ethereum’s public image has not recovered from the DAO fiasco; the much-hyped R3 consortium has abandoned blockchain technology; and the SEC rejected the touted Bitcoin ETF. Read More

  • Hollywood producers and executives: what do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out!

    Hollywood producers and executives: what do they know? Do they know things? Let’s find out!

    Did you watch the Oscars? Did you care about the Oscars? Statistically, if you’re American, you cared 25% less than 10-15 years ago. US movie theaters sold 5.5 tickets per capita to the American public in 2002, a number which has since declined to 4.1 in 2016. The overall box office looks healthy, thanks to ticket price inflation, but behind the headline numbers, Hollywood is not what was. Read More

  • I Am Annoyed

    I Am Annoyed

    When people ask me what this column’s theme is, my usual response is, tongue-in-cheek, “Whatever has annoyed me about the tech industry during the last week.” This is not always true. Often I celebrate things! But this week, my friends, this week is different; this week so much has annoyed me about the industry that I scarcely know where to begin. Read More

  • Why is Android Studio still such a gruesome embarrassment?

    Why is Android Studio still such a gruesome embarrassment?

    About twice a year, I get involved in a project that requires me to do some Android development; so, about twice a year, I re-launch Google’s so-called integrated development environment, Android Studio, with fingers crossed… and twice a year I find myself wincing with bitter disappointment, as I rediscover that it still has all the elegant, intuitive simplicity of a Rube… Read More

  • H-1B and you and me

    H-1B and you and me

    Let’s talk about something non-awful that Donald Trump has done. (Shouldn’t take long, right? Ba-dum-bump-wince.) Specifically, let’s talk about the draft executive order floating around which calls for H-1B visas to be allotted not by lottery, as they are today, but by auction, so that only highly-paid jobs are filled by H-1B holders. Read More

  • Technofascism and the three percent

    Technofascism and the three percent

    Everywhere I look, I see the magic number: 3%. On the right, a whole quasi-militia movement is named that. On the left, activists report “it takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships.” Nassim Taleb argues that once an intransigent minority reaches “3 or 4%” of the total population, the latter will “have… Read More

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