Jon Udell’s Move to Microsoft

Wow. This is significant. Jon is one of my favorites in the tech industry. I always cherish our first meeting (when he was at BYTE) and enjoy my conversations with him. His great insights into the technology are always valuable. I hope to see him more since I visit Seattle/Redmond often.

Why Microsoft? Jon says in his blog:

I’m often described as a leading-edge alpha geek, and that’s fair. I am, and probably always will be, a member of that club. But I’m also increasingly interested in reaching out to the mainstream of society.

For those of us in the club, it’s a golden age. With computers and networks and information systems we can invent new things almost as fast as we can think them up. But we’re leaving a lot of folks behind. And I’m not just talking about the digital divide that separates the Internet haves from the have-nots. Even among the haves, the ideas and tools and methods that some of us take for granted haven’t really put down roots in the mainstream.

Over the years I’ve evangelized a bunch of things to the alpha-geek crowd: Internet groupware, blogging, syndication, tagging, web architecture, lightweight integration, microformats, structured search, screencasting, dynamic languages, geographic mapping, random-access audio, and more. There’s a purpose behind all this, and Doug Engelbart saw it very clearly a long time ago. The augmentation of human capability in these sorts of ways isn’t just some kind of geek chic. It’s nothing less than a survival issue for our species. We face some really serious challenges. The only way we’re going to be able to tackle them is to figure out how to work together in shared information spaces. I’ve chosen to align myself with Microsoft because I think it has the scale, the resources, and the business incentive to help me empower a lot of people to learn how to do that.

Jon is one of the most creative people I know. His “light-weight and agile R&D” in technology is what makes him unique. And has the power to really explain complex technology in the simplest possible way. He combines the best of a techie with the best qualities of a good teacher. He will make a great evangelist.

Microsoft is really, really lucky to have him.

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