Jon Bruner

Jon Bruner

Jon Bruner is a data journalist who approaches questions that interest him by writing and coding. Before coming to O'Reilly, where he is editor-at-large, he was data editor at Forbes Magazine. He lives in New York, where he can occasionally be found at the console of a pipe organ.

Building a Solid World Building a Solid World
by Jon Bruner, Mike Loukides
February 2014
Ebook: $0.00

Industrial Internet Industrial Internet
by Jon Bruner
March 2013
Ebook: $0.00

Dirty Politics, Dirty Data Dirty Politics, Dirty Data
by Jon Bruner
March 2011

Recent Posts | All O'Reilly Posts

Jon blogs at:

Why PayPal jumped the software-hardware gap

May 22 2014

PayPal is a software company, but when I met with Josh Bleecher Snyder, director of software engineering at PayPal, it was to talk about hardware. He’s leading the development of Beacon, PayPal’s new hands-free payment platform. At its heart is a … read more

The IT-OT convergence

May 20 2014

Solid is about the intersection of real and virtual — the idea that, through sensors, networks, and intelligent machines, information can move fluidly between software and the physical world. It’s easy to see the technical implications of that intersection — … read more

The automation of design

May 19 2014

One of the core ideas behind our Solid Conference is that software can replace physical complexity, and that it’s getting easier for it to do so because the relationship between the physical and virtual worlds is becoming more fluid. Input … read more

A Solid preview

May 16 2014

Our new Solid conference is less than a week away. To tide you over, here’s a Solid video from a combined SFIoT, SF Hardware, and Sensored (SF) Meetup. On stage, along with myself, are three Solid people: Rachel Kalmar, data scientist at … read more

What’s a tech company, anyway?

May 13 2014

Uber is encountering a series of challenges that are notionally unfamiliar to the current generation of tech companies: wrongful-death lawsuits, rent-seeking by an entrenched industry, regulatory scrutiny from local bureaucrats, worker protests. The company admitted to having disrupted a competitor’s … read more

Biology as I/O

April 24 2014

Tim O’Reilly subjected himself to an engaging Ask Me Anything session on Reddit earlier this week. The focus of the exchange was the Internet of Things, in anticipation of our Solid conference taking place next month. We’re always listening for faint signals from … read more

Ask Tim O’Reilly about the Internet of Things on Reddit

April 21 2014

Our new Solid conference covers a lot of ground: hardware, design, manufacturing, and, of course, software. At 10 a.m. Pacific Time / 1 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow (Tuesday, April 22), Tim O’Reilly will take questions on these areas and how he … read more

Joi Ito: “Deploy or Die”

April 03 2014

It was a pleasure, as always, to talk with Joi Ito a couple of weeks ago. He and I are co-chairing Solid, our new conference about the intersection of software and the physical world, and we recorded part of our conversation … read more

What BlackBerry is up to these days

March 27 2014

Here’s a surprise, via Bloomberg: “BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, used to power its BlackBerry 10 phones, has become the technology of choice for mapping, communication and entertainment systems in cars from Ford Motor Co. to luxury German brands Porsche and … read more

Podcast: thinking with data

March 18 2014

Max Shron and Jake Porway spoke with me a few weeks ago about frameworks for making reasoned arguments with data. Max’s recent O’Reilly book, Thinking with Data, outlines the crucial process of developing good questions and creating a plan to answer … read more

Building a Solid World

March 03 2014

This is an excerpt from Building a Solid World, a free paper by Mike Loukides and myself about the convergence of software and the physical world. Our new Solid conference is about the “intersection of software and hardware.” But what does … read more

Tweets loud and quiet

December 18 2013

Writers who cover Twitter find the grandiose irresistible: nearly every article about the service’s IPO this fall mentioned the heroes of the Arab Spring who toppled dictators with 140-character stabs, or the size of Lady Gaga’s readership, which is larger … read more

Podcast: news that reaches beyond the screen

December 10 2013

Reporters, editors and designers are looking for new ways to interact with readers and with the physical world–drawing data in through sensors and expressing it through new immersive formats. In this episode of the Radar podcast, recorded at News Foo … read more


November 19 2013

Tim O’Reilly gave some sobering remarks last week at Techonomy about the things that might halt the sort of technological progress that has come to feel inexorable: war, fundamentalism, anti-science sentiment, etc. Human progress has practically stopped over many long … read more

Podcast: the democratization of manufacturing

November 05 2013

Manufacturing is hard, but it’s getting easier. In every stage of the manufacturing process–prototyping, small runs, large runs, marketing, fulfillment–cheap tools and service models have become available, dramatically decreasing the amount of capital required to start building something and the … read more

Software, hardware, everywhere

November 04 2013

Real and virtual are crashing together. On one side is hardware that acts like software: IP-addressable, controllable with JavaScript APIs, able to be stitched into loosely-coupled systems—the mashups of a new era. On the other is software that’s newly capable … read more

Podcast: ratings, rankings, and the advantage of being born lucky

August 08 2013

Is popularity just a matter of simple luck–of some early advantage compounded by human preference for things that are already popular? A paper published today in Science offers some insight into the way that popularity emerges in online ratings. Lev Muchnik, Sinan … read more

The end of integrated systems

August 06 2013

I always travel with a pair of binoculars and, to the puzzlement of my fellow airline passengers, spend part of every flight gazing through them at whatever happens to be below us: Midwestern towns, Pennsylvania strip mines, rural railroads that … read more

Podcast: quantum computing with Pete Worden and Bob Lee

July 26 2013

At Sci Foo Camp a few weeks ago we recorded a conversation with Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, and Bob Lee, CTO of Square. Among our topics on this wide-ranging podcast: quantum computing, which Ames is pursuing … read more

Interactive map: bike movements in New York City and Washington, D.C.

July 23 2013

From midnight to 7:30 A.M., New York is uncharacteristically quiet, its Citibikes–the city’s new shared bicycles–largely stationary and clustered in residential neighborhoods. Then things begin to move: commuters check out the bikes en masse in residential areas across Manhattan and, … read more

Podcast: George Church on genomics

July 12 2013

A few weeks ago some of my colleagues and I recorded a conversation with George Church, a Harvard University geneticist and one of the founders of modern genomics. In the resulting podcast, you’ll hear Church offer his thoughts on the … read more

Podcast: what makes a scientist?

June 26 2013

At Sci Foo Camp last weekend we enjoyed sitting down with several thoughtful scientists and thinkers-about-science to record a few podcast episodes. Here we speak with Tom Daniel, a professor of biology, computer science, and neurobiology at the University of … read more

$20,000 and a trip to Shenzhen

June 26 2013

Manufacturing is rapidly becoming more accessible to people whose expertise lies elsewhere. The change is most apparent at the small scale, where it’s become easy to order prototypes made on high-quality 3D printers and electronics in small batches from domestic … read more

Radar podcast: the Internet of Things, PRISM, and defense technology that goes civilian

June 14 2013

On this week’s podcast, Jim Stogdill, Roger Magoulas and I talk about things that have been on our minds lately: the NSA’s surveillance programs, what defense contractors will do with their technology as defense budgets dry up, and a Californian who … read more

Radar podcast: anthropology, big data, and the importance of context

June 05 2013

Jim Stogdill, Roger Magoulas and I enjoyed a widely discursive discussion last week, available as a podcast above. Roger, fresh from our Fluent conference on JavaScript, opens by talking about the emergence of JS as a heavyweight computing tool and … read more

The future of classical music

May 29 2013

The job of a publisher is to identify and cultivate talent, underwrite the writing process, and distribute the result. The publishing industry has been wringing its hands about the future of the print book for some time, but that model … read more

Where will software and hardware meet?

May 08 2013

I’m a sucker for a good plant tour, and I had a really good one last week when Jim Stogdill and I visited K. Venkatesh Prasad at Ford Motor in Dearborn, Mich. I gave a seminar and we talked at … read more

An IPO by any other name

April 08 2013

When Tableau goes public this summer, its shares will trade on NASDAQ under the apt ticker symbol “DATA.” Tickers are arguably less important now than they’ve ever been, since computers have removed much of the ambiguity they’re meant to resolve, … read more

The coming of the industrial internet

March 27 2013

Download this free report(PDF, Mobi, EPUB) The big machines that define modern life — cars, airplanes, furnaces, and so forth — have become exquisitely efficient, safe, and responsive over the last century through constant mechanical refinement. But mechanical refinement has … read more

Security on the industrial Internet

March 08 2013

Security must evolve along with the industrial Internet. The Stuxnet attack on Iran’s centrifuges in 2010 highlighted both the risks of web-borne attacks and the futility of avoiding them by disconnecting from the Internet (the worm spread, in part, using … read more

New vision in old industry

February 28 2013

Nathan Oostendorp thought he’d chosen a good name for his new startup: “Ingenuitas,” derived from Latin meaning “freely born” — appropriate, he thought, for a company that would be built on his own commitment to open-source software. But Oostendorp, earlier … read more

Masking the complexity of the machine

February 15 2013

The Internet has thrived on abstraction and modularity. Web services hide their complexity behind APIs and standardized protocols, and these clean interfaces make it easy to turn them into modules of larger systems that can take advantage of the most … read more

DIY robotic hands and wells that text (industrial Internet links)

February 07 2013

Two makers come together to make a robotic hand for a boy in South Africa (TechCrunch) — The maker movement is adjacent to the industrial Internet, and it’s growing fast as a rich source of innovative thinking wherever machines and software meet. … read more

Go to Washington, build the industrial Internet

February 05 2013

The White House has issued its call for the second round of Presidential Innovation Fellows, and it includes an invitation to spend a 6- to 12-month “tour of duty” in Washington, building the industrial Internet — or, more precisely, helping the … read more

Hacking robotic arms, predicting flight arrival times, manufacturing in America, tracking Disney customers (industrial Internet links)

January 31 2013

Flight Quest (GE, powered by Kaggle) — Last November GE, Alaska Airlines, and Kaggle announced the Flight Quest competition, which invites data scientists to build models that can accurately predict when a commercial airline flight touches down and reaches its gate. … read more

The driverless-car liability question gets ahead of itself

January 25 2013

Megan McArdle has taken on the question of how liability might work in the bold new world of driverless cars. Here’s her framing scenario: Imagine a not-implausible situation: you are driving down a brisk road at 30 mph with a car … read more

The bicycle barometer, SCADA security, the smart city in a disaster (industrial Internet links)

January 24 2013

The Bicycle Barometer (@richardjpope) — Richard Pope, a project manager at, built what he calls a barometer for his bike commute: it uses weather and transit data to compute a single value that expresses the relative comfort of a bike … read more

Broadening the value of the industrial Internet

January 24 2013

The industrial Internet makes data available at levels of frequency, accuracy and breadth that managers have never seen before, and the great promise of this data is that it will enable improvements to the big networks from which it flows. … read more

Seeing peril — and safety — in a world of connected machines

January 18 2013

I’ve spent the last two days at Digital Bond’s excellent S4 conference, listening to descriptions of dramatic industrial exploits and proposals for stopping them. A couple of years ago Stuxnet captured the imagination of people who foresee a world of … read more

The software-enabled cars of the near-future (industrial Internet links)

January 17 2013

OpenXC (Ford Motor) — Ford has taken a significant step in turning its cars into platforms for innovative developers. OpenXC goes beyond the Ford Developer Program, which opens up audio and navigation features, and lets developers get their hands on … read more

Defining the industrial Internet

January 11 2013

We’ve been collecting threads on what the industrial Internet means since last fall. More case studies, company profiles and interviews will follow, but here’s how I’m thinking about the framework of the industrial Internet concept. This will undoubtedly continue to … read more

Industrial Internet links: smart cities return, pilotless commercial aircraft, and more

January 07 2013

Mining the urban data (The Economist) — The “smart city” hype cycle has moved beyond ambitious top-down projects and has started to produce useful results: real-time transit data in London, smart meters in Amsterdam. The next step, if Singapore has … read more

Mark Twain on influence

January 06 2013

In 1905 Mark Twain wrestled with the sort of request that many readers here have undoubtedly encountered: a new writer with the most tenuous of connections (her uncle was briefly a neighbor in a Nevada mining town) asks Twain to … read more

New data competition tackles airline delays

November 29 2012

The scenario is familiar: a flight leaves the gate in New York on time, sits in a runway queue for 45 minutes, gets a fortuitous reroute over Illinois, and makes it to San Francisco ahead of schedule — only to … read more

Will online learning destroy America’s colleges?

November 20 2012

The American college system is staggeringly large: 2,421 four-year institutions enroll about 18.5 million college students. The proportion of Americans with a bachelor’s degree is at an all-time high — a social victory if they’re able to enjoy a positive … read more

Software that keeps an eye on Grandma

November 15 2012

Much of health care — particularly for the elderly — is about detecting change, and, as the mobile health movement would have it, computers are very good at that. Given enough sensors, software can model an individual’s behavior patterns and … read more

A case for voting Republican

November 06 2012

I’m writing this from an hour-long polling line on the Upper West Side, where no political races will be remotely competitive this year. The presence of so many people willing to put up with the inconvenience of a long wait … read more

Two crucial questions for the smart grid

October 31 2012

In a lively panel discussion at last week’s IEEE Industrial Electronics Society meeting in Montreal, two questions related to the smart grid (the prospective electrical distribution system that will set prices dynamically and let consumers sell electricity to other users … read more

Listening for tired machinery

October 26 2012

Software is making its way into places where it hasn’t usually been before, like the cutting surfaces of very fast, ultra-precise machine tools. A high-speed milling machine can run at 42,000 RPM as it fabricates high-quality machine components within tolerances … read more

Industrial Internet links

October 24 2012

By mayoral proclamation this is NYC Data Week, featuring lots of events that bring together innovators who work with data in any capacity. To see the industrial Internet as it’s being approached by entrepreneurs and hackers, be sure to stop … read more

Recent Posts | All O'Reilly Posts

Strata Online Conference: Mobility, Data, and Analytics
June 05, 2013
In this Strata Online event, we'll look at some of the ways the rise of the always-on world is feeding the hungry engines of Big Data.

Webcast: Getting Started on the Industrial Internet
April 23, 2013
Join us for a live webcast presented by Jon Bruner where we discuss how the industrial internet brings the intelligence and fast innovation of software to the world of big machines making the physical world accessible to anyone who can program a microcontroller...