Ward Cunningham

Last updated

Ward Cunningham
Ward Cunningham - Commons-1.jpg
Cunningham in December 2011
Howard G. Cunningham

(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949 (age 72)
Alma mater Purdue University
OccupationComputer programmer
Years active1984–present
Known for WikiWikiWeb, the first implementation of a wiki
Call sign K9OX

Howard G. Cunningham (born May 26, 1949) is an American computer programmer who developed the first wiki and was a co-author of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development . A pioneer in both design patterns and extreme programming, he started coding the WikiWikiWeb in 1994, and installed it on c2.com (the website of his software consultancy) on March 25, 1995, as an add-on to the Portland Pattern Repository. He co-authored (with Bo Leuf) a book about wikis, entitled The Wiki Way , and invented the Framework for Integrated Tests.


Cunningham was a keynote speaker at the first three instances of the WikiSym conference series on wiki research and practice, and also at the Wikimedia Developer Summit 2017. [1]

Early life and employment

Howard G. Cunningham was born in Michigan City, Indiana, on May 26, 1949. [2] He grew up in Highland, Indiana, staying there through high school. [3] He received his bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary engineering (electrical engineering and computer science) and his master's degree in computer science from Purdue University, graduating in 1978. [4] He is a co-founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, a software consultancy he started with his wife. [5] He has also served as Director of R&D at Wyatt Software and as Principal Engineer in the Tektronix Computer Research Laboratory. He is founder of The Hillside Group and has served as program chair of the Pattern Languages of Programming conference which it sponsors. Cunningham was part of the Smalltalk community.

From December 2003 until October 2005, Cunningham worked for Microsoft in the "Patterns & Practices" group. From October 2005 to May 2007, he held the position of Director of Committer Community Development at the Eclipse Foundation. In May 2009, he joined AboutUs as its chief technology officer. [6] [7] On March 24, 2011 The Oregonian reported that Cunningham had quietly departed AboutUs to join the Venice Beach-based CitizenGlobal, a startup working on crowd-sourced video content, as their chief technology officer and the Co-Creation Czar. [8] He remains "an adviser" with AboutUs. [9] [10] Cunningham left CitizenGlobal and is now a programmer at New Relic. [11]

Ideas and inventions

Cunningham in October 2011 Ward Cunningham 1.jpg
Cunningham in October 2011

Cunningham is well known for a few widely disseminated ideas which he originated and developed. The most famous among these are the wiki and many ideas in the field of software design patterns, made popular by the Gang of Four (GoF). He owns the company Cunningham & Cunningham Inc., a consultancy that has specialized in object-oriented programming. He also created the site (and software) WikiWikiWeb, the first internet wiki in 1995.

When asked in a 2006 interview with internetnews.com whether he considered patenting the wiki concept, he explained that he thought the idea "just sounded like something that no one would want to pay money for." [12]

Cunningham during an interview in May 2014

Cunningham is interested in tracking the number and location of wiki page edits as a sociological experiment and may even consider the degradation of a wiki page as part of its process to stability. "There are those who give and those who take. You can tell by reading what they write." [13]

In 2011, Cunningham created Smallest Federated Wiki, a tool for wiki federation, which applies aspects of software development such as forking to wiki pages. He signed the Manifesto for Agile Software Development [14]

Cunningham has contributed to the practice of object-oriented programming, in particular the use of pattern languages and (with Kent Beck) the class-responsibility-collaboration cards. He also contributes to the extreme programming software development methodology. Much of this work was done collaboratively on the first wiki site.

"Cunningham's Law"

Cunningham is credited with the idea: "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer." [15] This refers to the observation that people are quicker to correct a wrong answer than to answer a question. According to Steven McGeady, Cunningham advised him of this on a whim in the early 1980s, and McGeady dubbed this Cunningham's law. [16] Although originally referring to interactions on Usenet, the law has been used to describe how other online communities work, such as Wikipedia. [17] Cunningham himself denies ownership of the law, calling it a "misquote that disproves itself by propagating through the internet." [18]

Personal life

Cunningham lives in Beaverton, Oregon. [11] He holds an Amateur Radio Extra Class license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, and his call sign is Kilo Nine Oscar X-ray, K9OX. [19] [20] [21] [22]

Cunningham is Nike's first "Code for a Better World" Fellow. [23]


See also

Related Research Articles

Kent Beck

Kent Beck is an American software engineer and the creator of extreme programming, a software development methodology that eschews rigid formal specification for a collaborative and iterative design process. Beck was one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, the founding document for agile software development. Extreme and Agile methods are closely associated with Test-Driven Development (TDD), of which Beck is perhaps the leading proponent.

Wiki Type of website that visitors can edit

A wiki is a hypertext publication collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience directly using a web browser. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects or scope of the project and could be either open to the public or limited to use within an organization for maintaining its internal knowledge base.

WikiWikiWeb First user-editable website

The WikiWikiWeb is the first wiki, or user-editable website. It was launched on 25 March 1995 by its inventor, programmer Ward Cunningham, to accompany the Portland Pattern Repository website discussing software design patterns. The name WikiWikiWeb originally also applied to the wiki software that operated the website, written in the Perl programming language and later renamed to "WikiBase". The site is frequently referred to by its users as simply "Wiki", and a convention established among users of the early network of wiki sites that followed was that using the word with a capitalized W referred exclusively to the original site.

Bo Leuf

Bo Arne Leuf was co-author of the book The Wiki Way (2001), written in collaboration with wiki inventor Ward Cunningham. His book Peer To Peer (2002) discusses different peer-to-peer (P2P) solutions both from a technical and legal point of view.

Bertrand Meyer French computer scientist

Bertrand Meyer is a French academic, author, and consultant in the field of computer languages. He created the Eiffel programming language and the idea of design by contract.

Silicon Forest Nickname for the cluster of high-tech companies near Portland, USA

Silicon Forest is a nickname for the cluster of high-tech companies located in the Portland metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Oregon, and most frequently refers to the industrial corridor between Beaverton and Hillsboro in northwest Oregon.

The Portland Pattern Repository (PPR) is a repository for computer programming software design patterns. It was accompanied by a companion website, WikiWikiWeb, which was the world's first wiki. The repository has an emphasis on Extreme Programming, and it is hosted by Cunningham & Cunningham (C2) of Portland, Oregon. The PPR's motto is "People, Projects & Patterns".

Open-source journalism, a close cousin to citizen journalism or participatory journalism, is a term coined in the title of a 1999 article by Andrew Leonard of Salon.com. Although the term was not actually used in the body text of Leonard's article, the headline encapsulated a collaboration between users of the internet technology blog Slashdot and a writer for Jane's Intelligence Review. The writer, Johan J. Ingles-le Nobel, had solicited feedback on a story about cyberterrorism from Slashdot readers, and then re-wrote his story based on that feedback and compensated the Slashdot writers whose information and words he used.

In software development, agile practices include requirements discovery and solutions development through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams with their customer(s)/end user(s), adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continual improvement, and flexible responses to changes in requirements, capacity, and understanding of the problems to be solved.

James O. Coplien, also known as Cope, is a writer, lecturer, and researcher in the field of computer science. He held the 2003–4 Vloeberghs Leerstoel at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and has been a visiting professor at University of Manchester.

Tektronix American test and measurement devices company

Tektronix, Inc., historically widely known as Tek, is an American company best known for manufacturing test and measurement devices such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and video and mobile test protocol equipment.

John Matthew Vlissides was a software engineer known mainly as one of the four authors of the book Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. Vlissides referred to himself as "#4 of the Gang of Four and wouldn't have it any other way".

Steven McGeady is a former Intel executive best known as a witness in the Microsoft antitrust trial. His notes and testimony contained colorful quotes by Microsoft executives threatening to "cut off Netscape's air supply" and Bill Gates' guess that "this antitrust thing will blow over". Attorney David Boies said that McGeady's testimony showed him to be "an extremely conscientious, capable and honest witness", while Microsoft portrayed him as someone with an "axe to grind". McGeady left Intel in 2000, but later again gained notoriety for defending his former employee Mike Hawash after his arrest on federal terrorism charges. From its founding in 2002 until its sale in November 2013, he was Chairman of Portland-based healthcare technology firm ShiftWise. He is a member of the Reed College Board of Trustees, the Portland Art Museum Board of Trustees, and the PNCA Board of Governors, and lives in Portland, Oregon.

History of wikis History of wiki collaborative platforms

The history of wikis begins in 1994, when Ward Cunningham gave the name "WikiWikiWeb" to the knowledge base, which ran on his company's website at c2.com, and the wiki software that powered it. The "wiki went public" in March 1995—the date used in anniversary celebrations of the wiki's origins. c2.com is thus the first true wiki, or a website with pages and links that can be easily edited via the browser, with a reliable version history for each page. He chose "WikiWikiWeb" as the name based on his memories of the "Wiki Wiki Shuttle" at Honolulu International Airport, and because "wiki" is the Hawaiian word for "quick".

Organizational patterns are inspired in large part by the principles of the software pattern community, that in turn takes it cues from Christopher Alexander's work on patterns of the built world. Organizational patterns also have roots in Kroeber's classic anthropological texts on the patterns that underlie culture and society. They in turn have provided inspiration for the Agile software development movement, and for the creation of parts of Scrum and of Extreme Programming in particular.


RecentChangesCamp was an unconference focused on wikis, held from 2006 to 2012. It was named after the "recent changes" feature that is found in most wikis. RecentChangesCamp followed an Open Space model in having a program that was determined onsite by participants.

<i>The Wikipedia Revolution</i> Popular history book by Andrew Lih

The Wikipedia Revolution: How A Bunch of Nobodies Created The World's Greatest Encyclopedia is a 2009 popular history book by new media researcher and writer Andrew Lih.

The Hillside Group

The Hillside Group is an educational nonprofit organization founded in August 1993 to help software developers analyze and document common development and design problems as software design patterns. The Hillside Group supports the patterns community through sponsorship of the Pattern Languages of Programs conferences.

Software archaeology or software archeology is the study of poorly documented or undocumented legacy software implementations, as part of software maintenance. Software archaeology, named by analogy with archaeology, includes the reverse engineering of software modules, and the application of a variety of tools and processes for extracting and understanding program structure and recovering design information. Software archaeology may reveal dysfunctional team processes which have produced poorly designed or even unused software modules, and in some cases deliberately obfuscatory code may be found. The term has been in use for decades, and reflects a fairly natural metaphor: a programmer reading legacy code may feel that he or she is in the same situation as an archaeologist exploring the rubble of an ancient civilization.

Outline of Wikipedia Overview of and topical guide to Wikipedia

Wikipedia – a free, web-based, collaborative and multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. It has more than 48 million articles written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 regularly active contributors.


  1. "Wikimedia Developer Summit 2017 Program" . Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  2. Harry Henderson (2009). Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology. Facts On File. p. 122. ISBN   978-0-8160-6382-6.
  3. "Ward's Home Page" . Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  4. The Wikipedia Revolution - Andrew Lih, page 46
  5. Lih, Andrew (2009). The Wikipedia Revolution, p. 58. Hyperion, New York. ISBN   9781401303716.
  6. Bishop, Todd. (January 26, 2004) Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Microsoft Notebook: Wiki pioneer planted the seed and watched it grow. Section: Business; Page D1.
  7. Rogoway, Mike (May 18, 2007). "Inventor of the wiki has a new job in Portland". The Oregonian business blog.
  8. "Our Proven Leadership Team". Citizen Global Website. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  9. Rogoway, Mike (March 24, 2011). "Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki, has a new job in SoCal". The Oregonian business blog.
  10. "Ward Cunningham Joins CitizenGlobal". Blog.ratedstar.com. March 31, 2011. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Ward Cunningham Joins the New Relic Family". New Relic Blog. April 5, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  12. Kerner, Sean Michael (December 8, 2006), Q&A with Ward Cunningham, internetnews.com, archived from the original on September 16, 2012
  13. CubeSpace, Portland Oregon (December 7, 2008). "Ward Cunningham, Lecture". Cyborg Camp Live Stream – Mogulus Live Broadcast. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009.
  14. "Manifesto for Agile Software Development". June 11, 2019.
  15. "Jurisimprudence". Schott's Vocab Blog. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  16. McGeady, Steven (May 28, 2010). "Cunningham's Law". Schott's Vocab. New York Times. Comment No. 119. Retrieved August 30, 2012. n.b. named after Ward Cunningham, a colleague of mine at Tektronix. This was his advice to me in the early 1980s with reference to what was later dubbed USENET, but since generalized to the Web and the Internet as a whole. Ward is now famous as the inventor of the Wiki. Ironically, Wikipedia is now perhaps the most widely-known proof of Cunningham's Law.
  17. Friedman, Nancy (May 31, 2010). "Word of the Week: Cunningham's Law" . Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  18. Cunningham (October 18, 2015), NOT CUNNINGHAM'S LAW , retrieved December 20, 2017
  19. Federal, Communications Commission. "K9OX". United States Government. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  20. Federal, Communications Commission. "Ward Cunningham". United States Government. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  21. Federal, Communications Commission. "K9OX, Expired". United States Government. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  22. TenTec, Wiki. "Ward Cunningham". Ten Tec Wiki. Archived from the original on November 5, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  23. "Nike Materials Index: Open Data Hackathon". San Francisco Chronicle. August 6, 2009. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.