Jon Udell

Jon Udell

Jon Udell is an author, information architect, software developer, and new media innovator. His 1999 book, Practical Internet Groupware, helped lay the foundation for what we now call social software. Udell was formerly a software developer at Lotus, BYTE Magazine's executive editor and Web maven, and an independent consultant.

From 2002 to 2006 he was InfoWorld's lead analyst, author of the weekly Strategic Developer column, and blogger-in-chief. During his InfoWorld tenure he also produced a series of screencasts and an audio show that continues as Interviews with Innovators on the Conversations Network. In 2007 Udell joined Microsoft as a writer, interviewer, speaker, and experimental software developer. Currently he is building and documenting a community information hub that's based on open standards and runs in the Azure cloud.

Peer-to-Peer Peer-to-Peer
by Nelson Minar, Marc Hedlund, Clay Shirky, Tim O'Reilly, Dan Bricklin, David Anderson, Jeremie Miller, Adam Langley, Gene Kan, Alan Brown, Marc Waldman, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Aviel Rubin, Roger Dingledine, Michael Freedman, David Molnar, Rael Dornfest, Dan Brickley, Theodore Hong, Richard Lethin, Jon Udell, Nimisha Asthagiri, Walter Tuvell, Brandon Wiley
February 2001
Print: $29.95

Practical Internet Groupware Practical Internet Groupware
by Jon Udell
October 1999

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Mapping the decentralization movement

June 11 2014

“Right now we’re experiencing a moment of maximum centralization,” says Scott Rosenberg in his introduction to a new effort that combines “a tech-industry beat I will cover; a cultural investigation and conversation I will undertake; and a personal-publishing venture I am kicking off now.” We’ve been here before. The Internet… read more

A world without hearsay

June 06 2014

If you received email from me in the early 2000s, it would have arrived with an attachment I routinely added to my messages. The attachment was my digital signature, the output of an algorithm that combined my message with the private half of my cryptographic key pair. If you had… read more

Jeremy Dorn’s excellent JSON forms editor

May 30 2014

The lingua franca for web data is a format called JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). It’s easier for people and machines to read and write than its predecessor, XML. And because JSON is JavaScript it’s a natural choice for a web increasingly powered by JavaScript code. Like XML before it, though,… read more

Everything is amazing and I am grateful

May 24 2014

Last night I hung out with friends who hadn’t heard Louis CK’s profound rant, everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy. The central character is a guy experiencing WiFi on one of the first flights to offer it. He’s online at 30,000 feet, among the first ever to watch YouTube videos while… read more

Can we tether email to “the truth”?

May 23 2014

“I wish we had trackback for emails.” – Robert Scoble, circa 2006 My source for that quote is Jeff Sandquist, who hired both Robert Scoble and me to work at Microsoft. We are a company with a deeply-rooted email culture. Robert was bemoaning the lack of peripheral awareness that blogging… read more

Joint custody of data

May 16 2014

Benjamin Mako Hill has long hosted his own email server. In Google Has Most Of My Email Because It Has All Of Yours, he rethinks that strategy after this conversation: A few years ago, I was surprised to find out that my friend Peter Eckersley — a very privacy conscious… read more

Multi-persona architectures, then and now

May 09 2014

Thali is, among other things, a powerful reminder of just how far ahead of the curve Groove was back in 2000. The other day I spoke with Omer Eiferman and Oren Ladaan about Cellrox, an isolation technology for Android that virtualizes the operating system’s kernel for multiple user spaces. It’s… read more

Fellow travelers: Thali and telehash

May 07 2014

Thali isn’t the only software project that wants to connect people and devices securely and directly. One of our fellow travelers is telehash, which Jeremie Miller describes as “a secure wire protocol powering a decentralized overlay network for apps and devices.” I caught up with Jeremie yesterday on a… read more

The P in P2P is People

April 15 2014

When Groove launched somebody asked me to explain why it was an important example of peer-to-peer technology. I said that was the wrong question. What mattered was that Groove empowered people to communicate directly and securely, form ad-hoc networks with trusted family, friends, and associates, and exchange data freely within… read more

Shiny old things

April 02 2014

We’ve lived in New England for 25 years. It’s been a great place to raise a family but that’s done, so we’re moving to northern California. The key attractors are weather and opportunity. Winter has never been our friend, and if we had needed convincing (we didn’t) the winter of… read more

The next thing

March 24 2014

The Elm City project was my passion and my job for quite some time. It’s still my passion but no longer my job. The model for calendar syndication that I created is working well in a few places, but hasn’t been adopted widely enough to warrant ongoing sponsorship by my… read more

Circular progress

March 19 2014

Back when progress bars were linear, not circular, there was an idea that browser-based apps could be written in more than one programming language. One implementation of that idea was called ActiveX Scripting, which was supported by Internet Explorer (and other Windows apps). Of course the ActiveX moniker turned out… read more

What is a public information officer?

March 13 2014

If you’re a public information officer, what do you do? According to Wikipedia: Public Information Officers (PIOs) are the communications coordinators or spokespersons of certain governmental organizations (i.e. city, county, school district, state government and police/fire departments). They differ from public relations departments of private organizations in that marketing plays… read more

Visualizing structural change

July 28 2011

Think about the records that describe the status of your health, finances, insurance policies, vehicles, and computers. If the systems that manage these records could produce timestamped JSON snapshots when indicators change, it would be much easier to find out what changed, and when. read more

Why Facebook isn't the best home for your public events

June 09 2011

Organizations should strive to own and control their online identities (and associated data) to the extent they can. read more

Uniform APIs for the data web

April 20 2011

What if blogs had come of age in an era when a uniform kind of API was expected? We could then ask questions of blogs in the same way we could ask questions of event services. read more

How will the elmcity service scale? Like the web!

December 22 2010

A blog feed is just a special kind of web page. Anybody can create a blog and publish its feed at some URL. Why not calendars too? read more

The iCalendar chicken-and-egg conundrum

November 12 2010

If you're a school or a business or a band or a club whose website sports an Events tab that doesn't offer a companion iCalendar feed, I hope you'll ask your CMS vendor why not. read more

Heds, deks, and ledes

November 04 2010

Headlines matter. They're always visible to a scan or a search, while other information -- like decks and leads -- are active in far fewer contexts. read more

A lesson in civics, public data, and computational principles

October 26 2010

An efficient model of collective information management relies on principles like pub/sub, indirection and syndication. Translating these principles beyond computational thinkers is the tricky part. To pull it off we need to educate the kids we assume to be digital natives. read more

Developing intuitions about data

October 07 2010

Some kinds of computer files have different properties than others, and thus serve different purposes. Structured representation of data is one such property. If we are trying to put data onto the web, and if we want others to have the use of that data, and if we hope it… read more

The principle of indirection

September 30 2010

Networks of people and data are governed by principles as basic as the commutative law of addition and multiplication. Indirection is one of those principles. read more

Personal data stores and pub/sub networks

September 22 2010

Most people and organizations think of the calendar information they push as text for people to read. Few realize it's also data networks can syndicate. When that mindset changes, a river of data will be unleashed. read more

Twitter kills the password anti-pattern, but at what cost?

September 10 2010

It's good to see Twitter driving a stake into the heart of the password anti-pattern. But the Twitter ecosystem wouldn't exist if it hadn't been possible to sketch ideas, and to explore the unanticipated uses that can emerge from the soup of active ingredients that the web has become. read more

The laws of information chemistry

August 18 2010

Everybody learns that things in the physical world are structured in ways that govern how they can or cannot interact. The right shape will open the door, the wrong one won't. But unless you're on an IT track, you'll likely graduate from college without ever learning this corollary: The right… read more

The power of informal contracts

August 11 2010

In a world full of services like delicious, FriendFeed, and Twitter -- services that can route feeds of data based on user-defined vocabularies -- you don't have to be a programmer to create useful mashups. You just have to understand, and find ways to apply, something Jon Udell calls the… read more

Lessons learned building the elmcity service

August 03 2010

What happens when you mix open source goals, styles, and attitudes with Microsoft tools, languages, and frameworks? You get a cultural mashup. That's what the elmcity project is, and what this series will explore. read more

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