Jon Lebkowsky is a consultant, author and activist who was cofounder of FringeWare, Inc. (with Paco Nathan). FringeWare, an early attempt at ecommerce and online community, published a popular "magalog" called FringeWare Review, and a literary zine edited by Lebkowsky called Unshaved Truths. FringeWare's email list, called the FringeWare News Network, established an international following for the organization, which also opened a store in Austin, Texas.
Lebkowsky also has a history of activism, and was a co-founder of EFF-Austin, an organization formed to be a chapter of the national Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF-Austin became a separate organization with Lebkowsky as President. Lebkowsky has written articles and essays, and is a contributing writer and columnist at Worldchanging, and one of the contributors to the book Worldchanging: A Guide to the 21st Century. He was co-editor (with Mitch Ratcliffe) of the book Extreme Democracy. He hosts the ongoing Virtual Communities conference, which covers social software platforms and community behavior, at the prototypic online community, The WELL. He is an active proponent of the Texas Digital Convergence Initiative and a member of the core team at Bootstrap Austin. He has a weblog, Weblogsky.com He lives in Austin, Texas.
Lebkowsky joined the WELL in 1990, and became a host or co-host of several forums on the conferencing system, including forums devoted to Factsheet Five, where he had a brief stint as book review editor, and Mondo 2000, where he wrote several articles and formed friendships with editors RU Sirius and Jude Milhon. Through the WELL, he also became associated with Howard Rheingold and Whole Earth Review, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and boing boing, where he was Associate Editor. He had early associations with staff at Wired Magazine and was conducted a regular, weekly series of chats called Electronic Frontiers Forum at HotWired. He was a subdomain editor for the Millennium Whole Earth Catalog and, in 1996, he joined Rheingold's Electric Minds.
In 1997, he joined Whole Foods Market to help lead their web-based ecommerce efforts, which ended in 2000 with the collapse of the so-called "Internet bubble." He evangelized within the company for the creation of an online community, which was launced as part of the WholeFoods.com ecommerce project in 1998, where he was Interactive Community Director. The community included WELL Engaged forums and periodic Talk City chats.
Lebkowsky formed Polycot Consulting with Jeff Kramer and Matt Sanders on September 12, 2001. He led Austin's Wireless Future project for IC2 Insititute in 2003-2004, and has been a prominent figure within the Texas Digital Convergence Initiative. He is a close friend of author Bruce Sterling, whom he has interviewed many times, and he built and operates the web site for Sterling's Viridian Design Movement. He has been an advisor to the SXSW Interactive conference for many years, and he organized tracks on wireless in 2004 and digital convergence in 2006. He is currently a member of and contributor to Bootstrap Austin. As social media and web consultant, he operates two Austin-based web companies, Polycot Associates and Social Web Strategies.
In addition to his focus on web consulting and economic development, he is involved in Austin sustainability projects, including Austin EcoNetwork, Austin Green Art, and The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems.