Jonathan Lipps: All Projects

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The Gardener (The Tallest Man On Earth Cover)

Jonathan Lipps August 29, 2023 Instagram YouTube

In the summer of 2009 I got a bunch of mp3s from a friend. In this particular batch was an album called "Shallow Grave" from some artist named "The Tallest Man On Earth", a name which I figured (correctly, as it turns out) was tongue in cheek.

The album was intense, raw, organic, overcompressed—all things I loved, and none of which I had previously associated with folk/country/Americana. But that is what was happening. I was immediately drawn in, and have been following Kristian Matsson's music ever since. I always find myself coming back to this first record, and often this song in particular. I don’t know if this story it tells is perhaps intended to be a metaphor, or what. It certainly has a chilling element to it that belies the beautiful folky melody. Regardless, there’s a sense of wistfulness, of resignation to oneself and one’s choices that I find compelling.

Appium 2 is (Finally) Here!

HeadSpin Webinar August 9, 2023 Online

I celebrated the official launch of Appium 2 with a set of webinars hosted by HeadSpin. This talk was presented in order to give a bit of the backstory behind Appium 2's development as well as showcase the set of new features and changes to be aware of when adoping Appium 2.

On the Other Side

Jonathan Lipps July 3, 2023 Instagram

This is a song / music video recorded with my brother at Earthtones Audio. While the song has intensely personal and specific meaning for me, I like to think it also says something universal about significant transitions in life (and death): the courage, fear, loss, and hope involved. We recorded this song in basically one day while I was visiting on a short trip. I decided to throw up my phone to capture some video as we were working, and it turned into this really fun way of showing our recording process and visualizing the different parts as they come in and out of the song.

Skinny Love (Bon Iver Cover)

Jonathan Lipps June 1, 2023 Instagram YouTube

This is one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite songwriters. I still remember checking out Bon Iver's first release back in 2008 and being blown away by so many of the songs. This one in particular captured me. The impenetrability of the lyrics, the loose and jangly guitar tuning, the sheer emotion pulsing throughout. It captured me. So here's my hopefully not-too-skinny homage to this musical love of mine.

The consequences of AI for human personhood and creativity

Blog April 23, 2023

With the recent and sharp rise in the adoption of AI assistants, particular in fields formerly related to creative work, I felt the need to put forward my thoughts on the consequences of AI usage for human creativity. I argue that while AI assistants embody a huge amount of promise in terms of making creative production easier, there are tradeoffs and dangers involved in their use, particularly for our human faculties that we prize most highly.


Appium 2.0: State of the Union

AppiumConf September 17, 2021 Online

Here's the AppiumConf 2021 keynote, which happened during the Covid-19 pandemic, making it impossible for us to hold the conference in person. My secret demo for this talk was to produce an Appium 2 plugin for automating Unity-based games! Appium 2 was not yet released and so the rest of the talk was as discussion about the development process for it.


Creatures of Dust? What Are Human Beings in Ancient Near Eastern Thought, and What Are They For?

November 18, 2020

In this paper, I explore the resonances between the Israelite origin myths of Genesis and the various other myths in the Ancient Near East, primarily Mesopotamia, and attempt to argue for an ideological distinctiveness within a largely similar contextual frame.

Facebook, Virtual Reality Church, and Embodiment: Technology in the Church in an Isolated World

Here be Dragons July 7, 2020 Apple Podcasts

I was a guest on this episode of the Here Be Dragons podcast, discussing theology and technology.

Covid-19, VR Church, and Ordinary Embodied Human Existence

Blog March 26, 2020

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic there was a lot of discussion around the place of church in public life during quarantine. Online-only services started to pop up, prompting the question for many of when church would make the jump to a completely virtual reality. I wrote this article to explore some of the philosophical and theological foundations of VR and what "VR church" might even mean as a concept. Spoiler alert: I'm not bullish on VR church!


I lead the Automation Technologies team at HeadSpin, the app UX intelligence platform. HeadSpin lets you run all kinds of automated, performance, and other UX validation against your mobile, web, or media app, leveraging real-world devices and locations, along with a good dose of AI/ML to give you awesome reports about your app's quality. Previously at HeadSpin, I founded and still lead HeadSpin University, where we feature an extensive web and mobile test automation course I produced called Appium and Selenium Fundamentals. Part of my responsibility at HeadSpin is to continue to maintain and support the Appium ecosystem.


The rising tide: Open source's steady transformation

First Monday August 1, 2019

Together with Matt Germonprez and Sean Goggins, I published this paper in First Monday, a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the topic of the Internet. The abstract is as follows:

Open source projects are transforming. Today, work within open source projects has come to be influenced by a growing set of companies and individuals who receive financial remuneration for their engagement. As such, there is a central focus on commoditization and commercialization of open source products, which drives a trend towards a concealment of the various inner workings that produce these products. Within this shift, the product becomes a central aim of open source project engagement, and the means of production becomes incidental. In this paper, we explore the HCI research and design implications of the transformation of open source projects as part of commercial work and how we can come to better understand and protect the rising tide of open source projects.


Splendour Hyaline June 18, 2019 Bandcamp Spotify YouTube Apple Music Amazon Music Tidal Deezer

Present-Future is Splendour Hyaline's latest release. It consists of 14 songs written and recorded over a period of 11 years. The recording process took place primarily in San Francisco, but spanned my move to Vancouver. It's an indie record with pop rock sensibilities, verging on the epic, with influences all over the place!

This full-length album was recorded mostly at Spareroom Studios in San Francisco, CA (now Earthtones Audio in Forestville). I wrote the songs, sang, and played all the tonal instruments. David Lipps played drums, produced the album, and did all the mixing and mastering. Chris Nyffeler designed the cover art.

Appium: the Next Generation

AppiumConf June 14, 2019 Bengaluru, India

I gave this keynote talk to kick off AppiumConf 2019 in Bengaluru, India. In it I demonstrate how to write an Appium driver for IoT devices! It was super fun to build an actual bit of hardware (a drum machine, in fact), and then have Appium automate it.

The Imago Dei vs the Imago Machinae

April 7, 2019

In which I argue that Christianity and singularity-style futurist transhumanism (a la Yuval Noah Harari, Ray Kurzweil, etc) are fundamentally at odds, when both are well understood.


Cloud Grey

In 2018 I founded Cloud Grey, the Appium-focused consultancy, to meet the need of large companies trying to be successful with the tool. Especially in large and complex testsuites or organizational structures, it's easy to wind up with a sub-optimal Appium setup. Cloud Grey offered training, testsuite architecture, and a host of other services to enterprise clients. In my role as founding principle I also advised key companies in the industry.

Appium: the Next Five Years

AppiumConf April 6, 2018 London, UK

My AppiumConf 2018 keynote, wherein I play ukulele accompanied by an Appium orchestra!

Appium Pro

I maintain Appium Pro, a (formerly) weekly blog and newsletter focused on mobile test automation topics. I started writing Appium Pro in early 2018 along with the founding of Cloud Grey, and it has become the definitive resource for Appium how-tos and tutorials on the Internet. HeadSpin acquired AppiumPro in 2020.


What is technology? Do we even know?

StackOverflow Podcast September 25, 2017 Online

I was a guest on this StackOverflow Podcast, where we discussed open source community health, the philosophy of technology, and music. I played a bit of live music for the show, and the full version of the song I played is also available online: When There Was Still Code to Write (Ukulele Version).

The Philosophy and Future of Automation

SauceCon June 6, 2017 San Francisco, CA

As someone who works as a professional in the field of software automation and automation tools, I wanted to apply some critical philosophy of technology to the specific topic of automation. This SauceCon 2017 keynote talk was a perfect opportunity for such reflection! It culminated in a completely automated performance of a song I wrote with Appium driving various instruments including a text-to-speech synthesizer. Kind of spooky, actually!

Farm-raised versus wild: Sustainability in corporate open source

O'Reilly OSCon May 9, 2017 Austin, TX

In this talk I took my experience of running a large open source project, and added some research on the philosophy of open source, and tried to put together a model for sustainability in corporate-sponsored open source development.


StarDriver Enterprise: App to the Future

SeleniumConf November 16, 2016 London, UK

This is one of the funnest talks I've ever put together, simply because the whole involves dozens of puns based on 80s-era Sci-Fi movies and shows! More importantly, it's the first complete description of what became Appium's vision from Appium 2.0 and beyond.

Blogging Borgmann

Blog April 14, 2016

My first foray into the philosophy of technology was via the work of Albert Borgmann, and specifically his book Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. His ideas were so powerful and fruitful for me that I wanted to get to know them more intimately as well as to make them more easily accessible to non-philosophers. And so I set out to blog through each chapter of his book, summarizing and explicating the important points. Ultimately, this work even opened up the possibility to meet the man himself, and to have the wonderful opportunity to interview Albert at his home in Montana.


A blueprint for irony? Open source software and the Device Paradigm

SPT2015 July 4, 2015

In 2015 I attended the annual conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, in an attempt to learn more about the field of philosophy of technology. I gave this paper at the conference, discussing Albert Borgmann's "Device Paradigm" in conjunction with open source software.


Internet of Nothings: Technology and Our Relationship to the Things in Our World

LXJS June 28, 2014 Lisbon, Portugal

This was my first opportunity to give a presentation at a tech conference that wasn't about a technical topic. Instead, I got to share some of my thoughts (and worries) about the place of technology in our broader lives. In this presentation I tried to elucidate the concept of the "Device Paradigm" and explain why it mattered to us as practitioners of technology. It was also fun to build a realtime demo where attendees could write how they're feeling and have it float across the screen, while I performed an original song written for the event!

Yield! How ES6 Generators and Monocle-js Can Bring Async Into Line, Literally

ScotlandJS May 10, 2014 Edinburgh, Scotland

Before there was async/await in JS, we had a brief moment of freedom from callbacks using generators! Here is my contribution to that syntactic conversation.


Appium: Mobile Automation Made Awesome

LXJS October 3, 2013 Lisbon, Portugal

In this presentation, I showcased a pretty risky live demo, involving playing a song I'd written with a backup band consisting of mobile music apps automated by Appium.

Appium: Automation for Mobile Apps

Google Test Automation Conference April 23, 2013 New York City

This was Appium's formal debut on the world stage (not counting the demo of an early incarnation of the idea that became Appium, which was demoed at SeleniumConf 2012).


Sauce Labs

I previously worked as Director of Open Source at the San Francisco-based cloud testing company Sauce Labs. At Sauce, I worked on many aspects of the architecture of our web and mobile testing cloud, from backend infrastructure (Python) to frontend interactivity (JavaScript). I built out the Open Source Engineering Team. Our mission was to make sure that the open source projects at the center of our world (Selenium and Appium) stayed awesome, and that the ecosystem that surrounded our core products received as much attention as it deserved. Of course, I spent much of my time leading and maintaining the Appium project.



I helped to start (with Daniel Conrad) this social recommendations company. Rather than giving people a list of business to try, we approached the recommendations problem with the idea that recommendations are highly relative to someone's needs and desires. So we built a mechanism for succinctly stating those desires in the form of a question which people answered---these answers were recommendations which were reused around the site.

A lexical-functional analysis of Swahili relative clauses

June 23, 2011 Oxford Research Archive

This is my MPhil thesis for my degree in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology at Oxford. It gives an overview of Swahili syntax, along with the linguistic theory of Lexical-Functional Grammar, and uses this theory to propose a new model for analyzing relative clauses in Swahili. Ultimately I argue that the conceptual resources of Lexical-Functional Grammar offer a better explanation of relative syntax than previous work was able to achieve.

XSMA: A finite-state morphological analyzer for Swahili

May 7, 2011

This is a major paper I wrote for my linguistics degree. It details a computational morphological parser I wrote, designed to parse Swahili words into their morphological components. This parser was a relatively complete, and yet relatively minimal model of Swahili's morphology.



Jonathan Lipps January 16, 2009 Bandcamp

This album is the result of a lot of experimentation with composing using electronic instruments and the exploration of more subtle emotional landscapes. Before this (and still, really) I did not have much experience with electronic music, certainly not "techno" or "EDM" or "house" or any of these sub-genres. But I had a keyboard and some synthesizer software so I got to playing around. I wrote these 5 songs over the course of 2-3 years, and still come back to them from time to time (particularly the first track). I'm now doing a bit more electronic composition again, and will hopefully be producing more instrumental electronic music soon!



I helped to start (with Brad Wolfe) this company designed to bring creativity and inspiration to online engagement. We encouraged people to add their own creations to the community; along with each creation was its "backlight", i.e., the story of what inspired that creation. We built an amazing community of people and a library of inspiring content. We were also a part of the 2008 fbFund REV accelerator class.

Songs of Hope

Tumaini Children's Home February 29, 2008 Spotify Apple Music YouTube

In 2007-2008 I spent about a year living and volunteering at the Tumaini Children's Home in Nyeri, Kenya. Part of my efforts there involved facilitating music programs for the kids. It turned out there was a robust culture of songwriting---kids would create vocal melodies and lyrics and sing these songs to one another (mostly in the form of Christian worship). I worked with a number of these kids to add backing music to their songs, and recorded them. The resulting album was a really interesting mix of original East African folk melody (sung in Swahili or Kikuyu) and whatever influences I already had. All proceeds from the release of this album went/go to Tumaini!

Vocal melodies and words were written by the Tumaini kids. I did vocal harmonies, instrumentation, and album art (aww yeah matatu!)

Time Trials

February 13, 2008 Nyeri, Kenya

For about a year in the mid aughts I lived and volunteered in Nyeri, Kenya, working with kids at the Tumaini Children's Home. Part of what I helped with there was the development of a program called 'Hope Runs'---designed to help these Kenyan kids connect with one of their national sports and work towards scholarships and the like based on running. We worked with local coaches to give the kids access to running training and helped them participate in events. This is a video I made to promote Hope Runs. It's a sort of 'day in the life' of how things used to go there!


Suite Apocalyptique

Jonathan Lipps March 3, 2007

I wrote this album while on sabbatical at Schloss Mittersill, a castle in the Austrian alps not far from Kitzbuhel. The castle used to be an intentional Christian community (in some ways not unlike a monastery) devoted to retreat and study. It's now a hotel! Anyway, this oddly titled album was inspired by NT Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God series, an important work on the origins of the Christian religion within its historical and cultural contexts. The album is thus accompanied by a tiny essay.

The process of writing and recording these theologically-oriented songs was magical, and unlike anything I've experienced before or since. Playing on an old piano in a grand castle hall, or singing vocal lines in a stone chapel in the castle wall, my breath frosting in the midwinter night---unparalleled! Sadly I just had a set of SM-57s and a cheap USB-powered digital audio unit, so I couldn't do full justice to the physical and spiritual context. But the songs themselves, despite being super stripped-down arrangements of piano and vocals, remain powerful artifacts of that sabbatical for me. Downloads coming soon! Cover design by Chris Nyffeler.


Hope: A Sliver, Like the Moon

Splendour Hyaline July 12, 2006 Spotify YouTube Apple Music Amazon Music

In many ways this 6-song EP was Splendour Hyaline's first record that I was really proud of. We originally released it in 2006, but the version linked above were remastered and re-released in 2014. I was doing a lot of exploring in my songwriting, and we put together a pretty hard-hitting EP I think! This record even got reviewed in a print edition of Paste Magazine, back when print magazines were a thing. The reviewer compared us to Pedro the Lion / David Bazan, which is pretty fair given that he remains one of my biggest influences!

As per usual, I wrote the songs, sang, and played the musicky bits. My brother David did the drums and the mixing magic, and designed the album art.


Regarding Present Fears

Splendour Hyaline February 1, 2004 Spotify YouTube Apple Music Amazon Music

This little collection of 4 songs was composed of two re-recordings from Splendour Hyaline's first album, plus two new tracks. Originally released as the "Splendour Hyaline EP" to basically nobody, and containing some songs which went on to be on the "Hope" record, David and I remixed/remastered these and re-released them in 2014, with some additional instrumentation. It's basically the oldest music I've made that I've felt comfortable actually posting on the internet (though maybe I'll get brave and upload Splendour Hyaline's first album for archival purposes someday). Cover design by our bud Chris Nyffeler.


Enaselvai: A Sketch of a Constructed Language

December 8, 2003

Given my love of Tolkien's fictional languages, it was only natural that I (like many other nerds) ended up creating constructed languages ('conlangs') of my own, though none of them ever became very complete. The most fleshed-out project was a language called Enaselvai, which has some pretty obvious affinities with pre-existing natural languages like Latin. I even wrote this paper about constructed languages and the structure of Enaselvai. You can see some of the script I created for its writing system in the attached image!

Observation Selection Effects and the Fine-Tuning Argument for Cosmic Design

November 2, 2003

There is a class of arguments for cosmic design which aim to put the design hypothesis at better than chance by pointing at apparently finely-tuned aspects of our universe (without which "higher" life forms like ourselves, or any life at all, would not exist). A common objection to such arguments says that, given our lack of non-finely-tuned universes to compare against, design inferences are barred as a result of an observation selection effect. This paper attempts to defeat that objection (while, it must be said, not offering any additional support to the fine-tuning argument itself).


Splendour Hyaline January 7, 2003

Splendour Hyaline's debut! 12 songs of acoustic indie rock with some drums (no bass guitar, mind you!) This incorporated basically everything I'd written during my undergrad years at Stanford. It also represents David's and my foray into sound engineering, production, mixing, etc... And it had the quality to match! Some of these songs are still very dear to my heart, of course. Sadly, it's not available on any of the streaming services, since I'm not brave enough / don't think anyone cares! Cover art by David Lipps.