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by Jon Lebkowsky | August 1, 2017

A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. (Via International Co-operative Alliance)  Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative worker-owners believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

The co-operative principles are...

Clay Shirky
by Jon Lebkowsky | July 19, 2017

This interview originally appeared March 31, 2008 at the now-defunct website.

Clay Shirky is an influential writer, consultant, and teacher focused on the Internet as a social platform. He's one of the smartest thinkers I know about how people live, love, and work online. His new book, Here Comes Everybody:The Power of Organizing without Organizations, was just published by The Penguin Press. As an intro to Chapter 11, on "Promise, Tool, and Bargain," he says "There is not recipe for the successful use of social tools. Instead, every working...

by Jon Lebkowsky | June 22, 2017

Amazon's announced intention to buy Whole Foods Market was no surprise to me, because I helped Whole Foods as it tried to build its own huge e-commerce business for "cultural creatives," around the turn of the millennium. While our project,, didn't survive the dotcom bust, the prototype e-commerce grocery site that we'd built at proved that Whole Foods Market could do e-commerce as well as anybody at the time. We had the ordering system and fulfillment logistics down, and we built online amenities inspired by the power of the Whole Foods Market store...

Dell Medical School
by Jon Lebkowsky | January 27, 2017

In 2009, along with several physicians, patients and health activists, I helped form the Society for Participatory Medicine, a nonprofit promoting “a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health, and in which providers encourage and value them as full partners.” I was drawn into discussions about the transformation of healthcare by the late Dr. Tom Ferguson, whom I met at a 1980s meeting of the Austin Writer’s League, where he was presenting about his publication, Medical Self-Care. Tom was a physician, with degrees in...

Jon at Creatives Meet Business
by Jon Lebkowsky | January 19, 2017

I had the opportunity to make a series of "lightning presentations" on web development platforms at an October 2016 Creatives Meets Business meeting in Austin. "Jon is a fascinating fellow and is beyond knowledgable about all things web and development (and on ALL things internet). Jon shares about the different types of platforms out there (and the difference between them) and what questions you should be thinking about if you're ready to work with a developer." Read more and listen to the podcast at Photo by...

by Jon Lebkowsky | November 30, 2016

A recently revealed vulnerability in the Wordpress auto-update process could potentially have resulted in widespread intrusions on websites that were running Wordpress and had the auto-update functionality turned on. Specifically, this refers to automatic background updates: you can set Wordpress to accept core and plugin updates as they're released, so that you don't have to monitor and run the updates yourself. When auto-update is turned on for a Wordpress site, new code is synced from code repositories stored at Github, and for the sake of security, the developers of the code supplied a...

by Jon Lebkowsky | May 5, 2016

"Blog" is short for "weblog," and is a term coined as a pun by Peter Merholz, who explains the origin of the term.  Wikipedia has a good definition of the term. “Blog” is about form, not content; early on the idea of a weblog, "logging the web," was that the authors offered links to resources they'd found on the web, a way to find signal in the noise, and useful especially before Google offered a refined and effective search tool. Each new post was added at the top, so one aspect of the blog form was posting in reverse chronological order, so that the latest post is always most prominent...

Polycot Associates at work.
by Jon Lebkowsky | April 25, 2016


Like a band that’s been playing music together for years: the Polycot team is tight; our work is harmonious and efficient. The Polycot members power a full-featured, highly creative web consulting and development agency, offering managed website design & development, and associated expertise in content strategy, search and social media optimization.

And we’re skilled communicators, which really helps the process. Through ongoing collaboration and communication, we ensure that our clients are clear about the direction and status of their web development project. They...

Evan Smith interviews Kara Swisher at the International Symposium on Online Journalism
by Jon Lebkowsky | April 17, 2016

I was live tweeting day 2 of this year's International Symposium on Online Journalism (#ISOJ) - a little chaotic, but here are my live tweets. Big takeaway: there was little about anxiety over legacy business model failure, more focus on how things are working - emphasizing that they're working. This is a great time for news content and delivery innovation. The tweets: Hearing from women digital news leaders at a special breakfast session. Waking up & smelling the coffee...! #isoj #isoj2016

"Media outlets are saying 'we don't know where the women are.' Elmira Bayrasli says "we...

by Benjamin Bradley | February 11, 2016
Real Magic Isn’t Perfect

As someone who had been hand-coding web applications for years, I thought I’d found a magic wand when I discovered the world of open-source software. I no longer needed to laboriously recreate each website from scratch. With the flick of a wrist, I could now whip up a website in minutes — a task that used to take hours. But only movie magic is perfect. In the real world, every magic has its tradeoffs.

Modern content management systems like Drupal provide a lot of functionality out of the box. For a basic website, they might do everything you need. But...

Illustration of a house, old and dilapidated on one side, and clean and new on the other.
by Benjamin Bradley | December 29, 2015
You Can Go Your Own Way
But You Might Not Want to Pay the Toll

When explaining my website hosting/development work to non-techies, one of my favorite analogies is real estate. A web developer will help you build a website, like a contractor helps you build a house. And a web host provides a place to put it, like finding land for your house to sit on. The analogy will stretch pretty far. Websites have addresses (domain names), and can receive mail. They have ongoing costs like utilities (bandwidth instead of water/gas), and they age just like objects in the physical world too. A website,...

This shop is controlled by its workers
by Doug Addison | September 18, 2015

Until seven or eight years ago, the extent of my support of the cooperative economy was occasional grocery shopping at the nearby food co-op and replenishing my sock supply at the local REI store. Or so I thought. Turns out that cooperatives command large parts of our economy — from dairies and credit unions to home healthcare, hardware and electric utilities. And this segment of the economy is growing: cooperatives of all types and sizes are popping up from Jackson, Miss., to Oakland — even right here in Austin.

Polycot is a worker-owned, cooperatively managed and values-driven...