Jonathan Lipps: Technology

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I have been engaged with the use and development of technology in one form or another since I was young, and am several decades into my career as a software developer. For the last 10+ years I've focused heavily on open source work, and have had the privilege of doing a fair bit of speaking on the conference circuit about specific technical topics as well as the philosophy of technology.

Career Highlights

I consider myself a software engineering and design generalist and have worked in all kinds of programming languages and application development stacks. Here's a selected list of roles, and major technical or entrepreneurial projects!


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Public Speaking

I've spoken at dozens of conferences, meetups, and webinars around the world on various topics, mainly to do with automated web and mobile app testing, or open source development. I'd be happy to consider speaking at your conference or internal company event! Here is a set of highlights from my speaking career so far, including video, audio, or slide links when possible. (If you're looking for information about me to add to an event, you can find my professional bio and headshot for event purposes at the About page).

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.

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.

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.

Appium: the Next Five Years

AppiumConf April 6, 2018 London, UK

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

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.

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).

Philosophy of Technology

I enjoy thinking critically about the technological enterprise in the modern era, and write about this topic on my blog. In addition to a few of the talks above which relate to the philosophy of technology, here are some more examples of my work in this area.

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.

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!

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.

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.