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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...

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...

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 aren’t...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

by Dawnielle Castledine | April 14, 2015

I came to work for Polycot after having been in online community management and customer service with two companies that had previously hired this team for their websites. I naturally fell into a main point of contact role with each company. From these experiences, the Polycot team thought they saw something I could offer their projects: great communication skills. That was nearly a year ago, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to say yes to this learning experience. Robert Matney, the Lead Project Manager, took me under his wing. The rest of the team welcomed me warmly and...

by Benjamin Bradley | April 9, 2015

Over the 10+ years that I've been writing source code and working with source control management (SCM) systems like git, subversion, and cvs, I've developed a set of best practices which boost the benefits of source control's history/tracking features and help to keep my code bases clean.

Source control management, or SCM, is used to track changes in files over time. Software source code evolves as new features are added and tracking the history makes it easy to go back (revert) to an earlier version of the code. SCM enables several people to update different areas of the code at...

by Benjamin Bradley | March 18, 2015

We frequently get inquiries from outsourcing companies boasting of hundreds of developers ready to work on our projects at a moment’s notice. This collaboration, they claim, would enable us to focus on our “core business vectors and streamline [our] development process.” When one such company continued with repeated contacts, even after my polite rejections, I felt forced to lay it all out for them. Here was my response:

Hello [name redacted],

Polycot Associates is a worker-owned cooperative, in which each of our employees has an equal...


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