Alex Howard ’98 was on the move, between a Pennsylvania Avenue coffee shop with WiFi and his home office on Capitol Hill, where he’d work through a daily bushel of articles and blog entries. En route, he checked his Google Voice messages, made calls on an iPhone, and jumped ontoTwitter to post his latest thoughts on the technology issues of the moment.
"IMHO, @jix is full of win, @scotfinnie - she anticpated both privacy/compliance issues around biometric security data. http://j/mpfwGEYy" he tweeted during the short trip home from coffeehouse to couch.
“I’m a big fan of time shifting,” said Howard, the Government 2.0 Washington Correspondent for tech publisher O’Reilly Media, based in California. “I’ll work anywhere, anytime, whatever it takes.”
He didn’t set out to be a tech know-it-all, but there were hints. A biology major at Colby, he also coded HTML on the College’s original alumni website during the summer of 1995. Howard then worked for big consulting firms like Sapient and Bain, traveled abroad, and even dabbled as a garde manger in an Italian restaurant.
He moved into tech journalism full time in 2006, joining the Boston-based business-to-business IT publisher TechTarget. There he spent almost four years tracking news and trends in technology and social media, which would soon explode out of Silicon Valley lofts into living rooms and cell phones worldwide, and updating a respected online guide to tech terminology called WhatIs.com. He had a front-row seat to the early stages of blogging, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and their ilk, and he wrote about them well before they went mainstream.
“Then I moved into something much more serious,” he said.
Howard was promoted and relocated (along with his pet greyhound) to Washington to focus on the vast array of legal issues and strategies related to data protection, privacy, and security.
He moved to O’Reilly Media in 2010 to write more deeply about the ways technology helps citizens, municipalities, and even national governments solve problems. His new beat takes in social media, policy, and public-access issues as well as the same privacy and security concerns he’d already been writing about.
So Howard writes daily on such topics as open government, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and the people behind new technologies connecting governments with citizens. He knows from hacking and security protocols, and he hobnobs with legendary techies like Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey, list-maker Craig Newmark, and Huffington Post creator Arianna Huffington.
“The tech world has become everyone’s world,” Howard said, “and that makes cybercrime that much more dangerous, because it affects everyone now. It’s not just geeks hacking geeks.”