Areas of Expertise:
Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His work for O'Reilly includes the influential 2001 title Peer-to-Peer, the 2005 ground-breaking book Running Linux, and the 2007 best-seller Beautiful Code.
Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site (http://radar.oreilly.com/) and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. His web site is www.praxagora.com/andyo.
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November 26 2013The FDA order stopping 23andM3 from offering its genetic test kit strikes right into the heart of the major issue in health care reform: the tension between individual care and collective benefit. Health is not an individual matter. As I … read more
November 25 2013New tools are raining down on system administrators these days, attacking the “monitoring sucks” theme that was pervasive just a year ago. The new tools–both open source and commercial–may be more flexible and lightweight than earlier ones, as well as … read more
October 18 2013We’ve all seen cool maps of health data, such as these representations of diabetes prevalence by US county. But few people think about how thoroughly geospacial data is transforming public health and changing the allocation of resources at individual hospitals. … read more
October 17 2013I talked this week to Jonathan Bryce and Mark Collier of OpenStack to look at the motivations behind the enhancements in the Havana release announced today. We focused on the main event–official support for the Ceilometer metering/monitoring project and the … read more
October 11 2013Everyone seems to agree that health care is the next big industry waiting to be disrupted. But who will force that change on a massive system full of conservative players? Three possibilities present themselves: Top-down change: from the US government … read more
October 07 2013Here’s what we all know: that a data-rich health care future is coming our way. And what it will look like, in large outlines. Health care reformers have learned that no single practice will improve the system. All of the … read more
September 24 2013This posting is by guest author Tuan Dinh, who will speak about this topic at the Strata Rx conference. Legendary Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla caused quite a stir last year when he predicted at Strata Rx that “Dr. Algorithm”–artificial … read more
September 24 2013Bruce Springer of OneHealth will speak about this topic at the Strata Rx conference. This article was written by Patrick Bane of OneHealth in coordination with Bruce Springer. According to a recent study performed by the Jesse Brown VA Medical … read more
September 21 2013This article is by guest author Amik Ahmad. He is speaking on this topic at Strata Rx. Distractions didn’t have a chance. My phone was devoid of reception. The New York Times mobile application searched impossibly for a Wi-Fi connection. … read more
September 16 2013HealthTap is a community of doctors and clients seeking answers to health questions. Its central service provides immediate access to doctors and their knowledge either by doctors answering client questions in real time, or through a large database of previously … read more
September 13 2013This posting was written by guest author Julia Bernstein of Ginger.io. Ginger.io’s CEO Anmol Madan will be speaking on this topic at Strata Rx. The traditional, office-based model for health care is episodic. The provider-patient relationship exists almost completely within … read more
August 29 2013This guest posting was written by Yadid Ayzenberg (@YadidAyzenberg on Twitter). Yadid is a PhD student in the Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab. He has designed and implemented cloud platforms for the aggregation, processing and visualization of … read more
August 13 2013The importance of visualizing data is universally recognized. But, usually the data is passive input to some visualization tool and the users have to specify the precise graph they want to visualize. BeyondCore simplifies this process by automatically evaluating millions … read more
July 29 2013Every conference draws people in order to make contacts, but the Open Source convention also inspires them with content. I had one friend withdraw from an important business meeting (sending an associate) in order to attend a tutorial. Lots of … read more
July 22 2013American businesses, along with many others around the world, hustle to find enough programmers and computing staff. The gap widens precariously between the number of job openings and the number students graduating with the necessary skills. And yet, at the … read more
July 16 2013Last week, a wide-ranging interview on data in health care took place between Dr. Donald Berwick and Colin Hill of GNS Healthcare. Dr. Berwick and Hill got together in the Cambridge, Mass. office of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a … read more
June 25 2013Although open source has not conquered the lucrative market for electronic health records (EHRs) used by hospital systems and increasingly by doctors, it is making strides in many other important areas of health care. One example is clinical research, as … read more
June 10 2013The timing was superb for last week’s Health Privacy Summit, held on June 5 and 6 in Washington, DC. First, it immediately followed the 2000-strong Health Data Forum (Health Datapalooza), where concern for patients rights came up repeatedly. Secondly, scandals … read more
June 04 2013Computing practices that used to be religated to experimental outposts are now taking up residence at the center of the health care field. From natural language processing to machine learning to predictive modeling, you see people promising at the health … read more
May 21 2013Would you take a morning off from work to discuss health care costs and consumer empowerment in health care? Over a hundred people in the Boston area did so on Monday, May 6, for the conference “Empowering Healthcare Consumers: A … read more
May 21 2013Measuring a world-shaking trend with feet planted in every area of human endeavor cannot be achieved in a popular book of 200 pages, but one has to start somewhere. I am happy to recommend the adept efforts of Viktor Mayer-Schönberger … read more
May 16 2013Taking advantage of a recent trip to Washington, DC, I had the privilege of visiting three non-profit organizations who are leaders in the application of computers to changing society. First, I attended the annual meeting of the Association for Computing … read more
May 15 2013I recently talked to two managers of Black Duck, the first company formed to help organizations deal with the licensing issues involved in adopting open source software. With Tim Yeaton, President and CEO, and Peter Vescuso, Executive Vice President of … read more
May 02 2013In the inspiring tradition of Foldit, the game for determining protein shapes, Fit2Cure crowdsources the problem of finding drugs that can cure the many under-researched diseases of developing countries. Fit2Cure appeals to the player’s visual–even physical–sense of the world, and … read more
April 29 2013Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Part 1 of this article described Sage Bionetworks, a recent Congress they held, and their way of promoting data sharing through a challenge. Data sharing is not an unfamiliar practice in genetics. Plenty of cell … read more
April 29 2013The glowing reports we read of biotech advances almost cause one’s brain to ache. They leave us thinking that medical researchers must command the latest in all technological tools. But the engines of genetic and pharmaceutical innovation are stuttering for … read more
April 15 2013In the open source and free software movement, we always exalt community, and say the people coding and supporting the software are more valuable than the software itself. Few communities have planned and philosophized as much about community-building as ZeroMQ. … read more
March 21 2013Noting the power of social media in situations ranging from the marketing of sneakers to the overthrow of autocratic regimes, many health care thinkers have suggested a greater use of social media by doctors and people seeking information on health … read more
March 11 2013I spent most of the past week on my annual assessment of the progress that the field of health information technology is making toward culling the benefits offered by computers and Internet connectivity: instant access to data anywhere; a leveling … read more
March 06 2013After my funereal disparagement yesterday of the opening of the HIMSS health care conference in New Orleans, I decided to pick up the beat today and talk about some of the people and ideas I encountered with promise for the … read more
March 05 2013HIMSS, the leading health IT conference in the US, drew over 32,000 people to New Orleans this year (with another thousand or two expected to register by the end of the conference). High as this turn-out sounds, it represents a … read more
February 26 2013In a mobile, texting, socially engaged society, one would expect medical researchers to move beyond clipboards and phone surveys to make the most of technology. Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital are starting to do that with a series … read more
February 25 2013Video systems can streamline hospital care in all sorts of ways from displaying messages (“Quiet time is 1 to 2 PM today”) to taking patient surveys, showing patients their X-Rays, and helping patients view their records from their beds. But … read more
February 11 2013Impatience is said to be the stance of modern technology users, but a doctor sitting with a patient has good reason to be impatient. The afflicted person may be suffering from a condition where lost minutes could mean death, an … read more
December 14 2012I came to LISA, the classic USENIX conference, to find out this year who was using such advanced techniques as cloud computing, continuous integration, non-relational databases, and IPv6. I found lots of evidence of those technologies in action, but also … read more
December 13 2012I had a chance to listen in a recent meeting of Open Health Tools, a trade association bringing together companies, academics, and standards bodies who create open source software tools for all stages of the health care field. Open Health … read more
December 03 2012Somehow, recently, a lot of people have taken an interest in the broadcast of canned educational materials, and this practice — under a term that proponents and detractors have settled on, massive open online course (MOOC) — is getting a … read more
November 05 2012Veterans Affairs is collaborating with Fujitsu on a complex and interesting use of sensor data to help rehabilitate veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I recently talked about this initiative with Dr. Steven Woodward, Principal Investigator of the … read more
November 01 2012HealthTap, a network of physicians and patients, routinely breaks new ground and tries bold experiments in the area of generating trust. I remember how, in my first posting about the company, I questioned whether the company could sign up both … read more
October 19 2012O’Reilly’s first conference devoted to health care, Strata Rx, wrapped up earlier this week. Despite competing with at least three other conferences being held on the same week around the country on various aspects of health care and technology, we … read more
October 17 2012Scala, a language designed for well-structured and readable programs, is richly provisioned with testing frameworks. The community has adopted test-driven development (TDD) and behavior-driven development (BDD) with zeal. These represent the baseline for trustworthy code development today. TDD and BDD … read more
October 11 2012Recently a group of three young entrepreneurs showed off a prototype of a glove that contained sensors useful for medical examinations. Their goals were not merely to make diagnosis easier, but to save the doctor/patient relationship from the alienation of … read more
October 09 2012(The following article sprang from a collaboration between Andy Oram and Brigitte Piniewski to cover open source concepts in an upcoming book on health care. This book, titled “Wireless Health: Remaking of Medicine by Pervasive Technologies,” is edited by Professor … read more
October 09 2012David Heckerman from Microsoft Research presents a summary of his work in the session “Discovering Genetic Associations on Large Data.” This was part of the Strata Rx Online Conference: Personalized Medicine, a preview of O’Reilly’s conference Strata Rx, highlighting the … read more
October 09 2012I find Datalanche’s upcoming search application interesting because its database mixes public health data with patients’ clinical data from a private vendor. Practice Fusion opened up their data set of de-identified clinical information for a challenge that Datalanche won last … read more
October 09 2012Arijit Sengupta presents a summary of his work as the CEO of BeyondCore in the presentation “Advanced Analytics for All: Enabling business users to act on length of stay patterns at a leading hospital system.” This presentation was part of … read more
October 09 2012Ann Waldo, a partner in Wittie, Letsche & Waldo, LLP in Washington, DC, presents a summary of her work in the webcast “Overview of Privacy Concerns and Regulatory Challenges Concerning Personalized Medicine — and Some Modest Suggestions for Change.” This … read more
October 08 2012Four leading members of the House Ways and Means Committee tore away last Thursday at the polite, cautious, incremental approach that the Department of Health and Human Service has been taking toward key goals of HITECH act that was meant … read more
September 13 2012This week has been teaming with health care conferences, particularly in Boston, and was declared by President Obama to be National Health IT Week as well. I chose to spend my time at the second ITdotHealth conference, where I enjoyed … read more
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"I found it a very interesting book that examined the actual empirical evidence to support or refute some of the sacred cows in software engineering. I think this this is a refreshing step forward for our profession."
"Overall I found the book a very fascinating and enjoyable read, and since no jargon is used it should be accessible to any audience. If you want to find out what the cyber criminals are up to and what security professionals are doing to counteract, then this is a very good place to start."
"Right from the beginning, this book offers a startlingly fresh perspective on the realm of computer security...This work is a must for anyone investigating security on a professional or cursory level."
"This is a book that you, the programmer and designer, will ﬁnd worth your time. "
"Beautiful Security is an enjoyable book that answers many questions and does so in a simple, yet effective way. It is particularly suitable for all those people who have been around the net for a while and have learned many terms and phrases concerning information security, but they have still only a vague idea of the notion they represent."
"As with any good security book, theres plenty of well-done content which will likely scare you in to re-thinking how you and your company approach security. Beautiful Security can help you identify practices, problems, and mindsets which leave you, your company, or your clients at risk."
"Beautiful Security goes well beyond the confines of traditional security books that dive into technical minutia and bore you to tears. Yes there is technical jargon to be seen throughout, but the real hook
to this collection of ideas and best practices is the thinking and logic the various contributors gracefully convey through the pages within. "
"...a required read. For those that have an interest in information security or those that are frustrated by it, Beautiful Security is an eye-opening book that will challenge you, and change the way you think about information security."
"The preface states that the purpose of the book is to convince the reader that security is not bureaucratic drudgery but is an exciting career, and I think the book is successful at this."
"In Beautiful Security, experienced insiders share some rarely spoken truths about the real problems in information security today, and point the way towards how the situation could or should be improved. The challenges we face in security and personal privacy are not always purely technical--in fact they rarely are. Instead, they
are social, geo-political, legacy, or simply when interests are not in alignment. Taking into account all the external factors, the authors behind Beautiful Security explore more modern and practical information security approaches, with a healthy skepticism for conventional wisdom."
"There is no doubt that the way we manage information security in the future will need to evolve as significantly and swiftly as the technology itself and adapt to the new ways we choose to embrace it. Information security plays a critical role in enabling a secure and reliable business that earns the trust of our customers. The thoughts and ideas shared by the authors in this book can shape the
security "cogs and levers" of tomorrow."
"Whereas a lot of books are either narrowly focused (and convinced that their focus is all that matters), or too wide to be useful, Beautiful Security draws a wide net and collects a representative view of the state of the problem in infosecurity today."
"Computer security is quite possibly the most intellectually
challenging field today, an interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving arena that straddles the realms of people and technology. Hacking, both positive and negative, is simply the activity of smart people stretching the limits and repurposing what a computer can do for their own objectives. Beautiful Security gives us a window into the minds of the passionate people who defend us by out-thinking and staying one step ahead of our black hat adversaries.
"Any project that undertakes to get students and professionals interested in security issues is laudable. This book is no exception. I found Jim Routh's chapter on 'Forcing Firms to Focus' to be profound. It is not often we get to look under the hood with leaders actually doing the work--rather than listening to vendors and experts talk about what 'might' work."
"This collection of thoughtful essays catapults the reader well beyond deceptively shiny security FUD (the drum major of the bug parade) toward the more subtle beauty of building security in. Security is an essential emergent property for all modern systems--something that most people implicitly expect and few people explicitly enjoy. This
book demonstrates the yin and the yang of security, and the
fundamental creative tension between the spectacularly destructive and the brilliantly constructive. Read. Learn. Emulate."
"What a spectacular book--each chapter written by someone who actually knows the topic--and each chapter short enough that it is full of interesting stuff. And most of them are quite timely."
"This isn't a book you have to read but if you are a programmer at almost any skill level you will find it deeply enjoyable. "
"A collection of thirty three chapters from experts in their fields, Beautiful Code comes as a whiff of fresh air into the book shelf of the programmer...The book will give color to imagination of programmers used to reading bland text-book type documentation and programming manuals."
"Beautiful Code seems the rare kind of computer programming book that tends to resist well the test of time; while it is quite technical and full of code samples, the ideas being discussed are mostly independent of the programming language in question. "
"If you want to take your mindset as a developer to the next level, this is a good book. It's also an interesting insight into certain programming problems and their solutions."
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