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.

Visualizing structural change

When information has structure we can use it to see change more clearly.

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.

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

Facebook may not be great for event listings, but it could be a useful conduit.

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

Uniform APIs for the data web

The Open Data Protocol is a promising approach for uniform APIs.

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.

How will the elmcity service scale? Like the web!

The calendarsphere will be another collection of small pieces loosely joined.

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?

The iCalendar chicken-and-egg conundrum

Publishing calendars as HTML is necessary but not sufficient. We also need iCalendar feeds.

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.

Heds, deks, and ledes

We become effective publishers when we carefully package and layer our information.

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.

A lesson in civics, public data, and computational principles

The benefits of information principles are revealed through education, so let's start with digital natives.

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.

Developing intuitions about data

Why we must consider the different properties and purposes of computer files.

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 will flow reliably through networks to all the places where it's needed, then we ought to consider how the files we choose to publish do, or don't, respect that property.

The principle of indirection

We all need to know the difference between pass by value and pass by reference.

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.

Personal data stores and pub/sub networks

Social streams may eclipse RSS, but the blogosphere's roots run deeper.

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.