About Jon​

A more charitable interpretation of “scattered dilettante” is “easily bored.”

Relatively Boring Facts

Jon was born and raised in Canada, near Toronto, and now lives mostly in California. He has also lived in London, Paris, Montreal, and New York City. His debut novel Dark Places – like most of his early work, a technothriller set amid far-flung locations across the developing world – won Best First Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada. His most unusual early novel was Beasts of New York, an epic dark fantasy about squirrels in Central Park. He also scripted the well-received graphic novel The Executor for the Vertigo Crime series.


Jon spent his twenties alternating between engineering jobs and travel, and has been to over 100 countries. He has been mugged at gunpoint in Mexico City, pickpocketed in St. Petersburg, pursued across Bamako by former Liberian child soldiers, and nonconsensually relieved of his luggage in La Paz. All remain on his list of fondly remembered cities nonetheless.

He has also visited a jungle cocaine lab in Colombia; been woken by a prowling hyena while sleeping beneath Namibia’s stars; flown to Baghdad on a Blackhawk as a quasi-embedded journalist during the Iraqi insurgency; gotten hopelessly lost in search of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest; shot footage for the Travel Channel in Paris, Seville, Miami, and Montreal; climbed Papua New Guinea’s highest peak; and hiked Mt. Elgon in Kenya to Kitum Cave, now believed to be the source of the Ebola virus. He did not contract it, and in his middle age is getting better at appreciating the virtues of relative boredom. Much of his travel writing is compiled in the book No Fixed Address.

Tech / Journalism

Jon graduated from Canada’s University of Waterloo with an electrical engineering degree, and promptly abandoned hardware for software. He narrowly survived the excesses of the dot-com boom, worked briefly for Infectious Disease Epidemiology at imperial College London, and eventually joined the software consultancy HappyFunCorp, becoming its CTO as it grew from 8 to 80 people. He was the initial technical architect of Bookshop.org, and co-wrote Twitter’s Apple TV app, which received Apple’s App of the Year award, making him one of presumably very few people to have won both Best First Novel and App Of The Year awards.

During this era he was also TechCrunch’s weekly columnist, penning ~500 articles about technology and the tech industry, sometimes in the second person or as a Dr. Seuss pastiche. He has also written for Wired, The Guardian, Quartz, The Walrus, The Globe & Mail, and The Times of India, among others, and has interviewed various prominent tech figures (Vitalik Buterin, Kai-Fu Lee, an assortment of CEOs, etc.) onstage before audiences ranging into the thousands.

A.I., Archives, Metaculus

Jon has been interested in AI since studying neural networks at Waterloo; his 2009 technothriller Swarm is about networks of neural nets, and he helped review applications for AIGrant.org starting in 2017. In 2019 he was recruited to direct the GitHub Archive Program, preserving the world’s open-source software on hardened microfilm in the permafrost Arctic Code Vault beneath a mountain in Svalbard, just down the road from the Global Seed Vault, for 1,000 years. (At one point he found himself in a Land Rover, closer to the North Pole than the Arctic Circle, with a polar bear rifle in one hand and a reel of archival film in the other, thinking: “This is not where I expected my software career to take me…”)

He also established partnerships with the Internet Archive, Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and Egypt’s Library of Alexandria. The Archive Program was the subject of hundreds of articles, including a Businessweek cover story, and attracted over a million YouTube views. It was the most science-fictional thing he had done … until HappyFunCorp was acquired in 2022 and Jon took an engineering role at the AI/forecasting company Metaculus, a public benefit company striving to make the future more legible to both human and artificial intelligences.

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