Andy Oram


Areas of Expertise:

  • free and open source software
  • health IT
  • writing

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His work for O'Reilly includes the influential 2001 title Peer-to-Peer, the 2005 ground-breaking book Running Linux, and the 2007 best-seller Beautiful Code.

Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site ( and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. His web site is

Making Software Making Software
by Andy Oram , Greg Wilson
October 2010
Print: $44.99
Ebook: $35.99

Beautiful Security Beautiful Security
by Andy Oram , John Viega
April 2009
Print: $39.99
Ebook: $31.99

Beautiful Code Beautiful Code
by Andy Oram , Greg Wilson
June 2007
Print: $44.99
Ebook: $35.99

Peer-to-Peer Peer-to-Peer
by Nelson Minar , Marc Hedlund , Clay Shirky , Tim O'Reilly , Dan Bricklin , David Anderson , Jeremie Miller , Adam Langley , Gene Kan , Alan Brown , Marc Waldman , Lorrie Faith Cranor , Aviel Rubin , Roger Dingledine , Michael Freedman , David Molnar , Rael Dornfest , Dan Brickley , Theodore Hong , Richard Lethin , Jon Udell , Nimisha Asthagiri , Walter Tuvell , Brandon Wiley
February 2001
Print: $29.95

Programming with GNU Software Programming with GNU Software
by Andy Oram , Mike Loukides
December 1996
Print: $39.95

Managing Projects with make Managing Projects with make
by Andy Oram , Steve Talbott
Second Edition October 1991

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Andy blogs at:

LISA mixes the ancient and modern: report from USENIX system administration conference

December 14 2012

I came to LISA, the classic USENIX conference, to find out this year who was using such advanced techniques as cloud computing, continuous integration, non-relational databases, and IPv6. I found lots of evidence of those technologies in action, but also … read more

Open source developers combine efforts in the health care field

December 13 2012

I had a chance to listen in a recent meeting of Open Health Tools, a trade association bringing together companies, academics, and standards bodies who create open source software tools for all stages of the health care field. Open Health … read more

The MOOC movement is not an indicator of educational evolution

December 03 2012

Somehow, recently, a lot of people have taken an interest in the broadcast of canned educational materials, and this practice — under a term that proponents and detractors have settled on, massive open online course (MOOC) — is getting a … read more

Driven to distraction: how Veterans Affairs uses monitoring technology to help returning veterans adjust to normal day to day living

November 05 2012

Veterans Affairs is collaborating with Fujitsu on a complex and interesting use of sensor data to help rehabilitate veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I recently talked about this initiative with Dr. Steven Woodward, Principal Investigator of the … read more

Doctors rate doctors in HealthTap’s medical quality project

November 01 2012

HealthTap, a network of physicians and patients, routinely breaks new ground and tries bold experiments in the area of generating trust. I remember how, in my first posting about the company, I questioned whether the company could sign up both … read more

How to open an industry: data points from Strata Rx

October 19 2012

O’Reilly’s first conference devoted to health care, Strata Rx, wrapped up earlier this week. Despite competing with at least three other conferences being held on the same week around the country on various aspects of health care and technology, we … read more

Tools for test-driven development in Scala

October 17 2012

Scala, a language designed for well-structured and readable programs, is richly provisioned with testing frameworks. The community has adopted test-driven development (TDD) and behavior-driven development (BDD) with zeal. These represent the baseline for trustworthy code development today. TDD and BDD … read more

Sensor-laden glove brings medical examination to the masses

October 11 2012

Recently a group of three young entrepreneurs showed off a prototype of a glove that contained sensors useful for medical examinations. Their goals were not merely to make diagnosis easier, but to save the doctor/patient relationship from the alienation of … read more

Open source software as a model for health care

October 09 2012

(The following article sprang from a collaboration between Andy Oram and Brigitte Piniewski to cover open source concepts in an upcoming book on health care. This book, titled “Wireless Health: Remaking of Medicine by Pervasive Technologies,” is edited by Professor … read more

Discovering genetic associations using large data

October 09 2012

David Heckerman from Microsoft Research presents a summary of his work in the session “Discovering Genetic Associations on Large Data.” This was part of the Strata Rx Online Conference: Personalized Medicine, a preview of O’Reilly’s conference Strata Rx, highlighting the … read more

Combining patient data sets for better medical research

October 09 2012

I find Datalanche’s upcoming search application interesting because its database mixes public health data with patients’ clinical data from a private vendor. Practice Fusion opened up their data set of de-identified clinical information for a challenge that Datalanche won last … read more

Advanced analytics for all in the health care system

October 09 2012

Arijit Sengupta presents a summary of his work as the CEO of BeyondCore in the presentation “Advanced Analytics for All: Enabling business users to act on length of stay patterns at a leading hospital system.” This presentation was part of … read more

Privacy concerns and regulatory challenges in personalized medicine

October 09 2012

Ann Waldo, a partner in Wittie, Letsche & Waldo, LLP in Washington, DC, presents a summary of her work in the webcast “Overview of Privacy Concerns and Regulatory Challenges Concerning Personalized Medicine — and Some Modest Suggestions for Change.” This … read more

Challenge to Meaningful Use by House leaders highlights difficulty of asking incumbents to be innovators

October 08 2012

Four leading members of the House Ways and Means Committee tore away last Thursday at the polite, cautious, incremental approach that the Department of Health and Human Service has been taking toward key goals of HITECH act that was meant … read more

Growth of SMART health care apps may be slow, but inevitable

September 13 2012

This week has been teaming with health care conferences, particularly in Boston, and was declared by President Obama to be National Health IT Week as well. I chose to spend my time at the second ITdotHealth conference, where I enjoyed … read more

The many sides to shipping a great software project

September 09 2012

Chris Vander Mey, CEO of Scaled Recognition, and author of a new O’Reilly book, Shipping Greatness, lays out in this video some of the deep lessons he learned during his years working on some very high-impact and high-priority projects at … read more

The future of medicine relies on massive collection of real-life data

September 05 2012

Health care costs rise as doctors try batches of treatments that don’t work in search of one that does. Meanwhile, drug companies spend billions on developing each drug and increasingly end up with nothing to show for their pains. This … read more

Analyzing health care data to empower patients

August 29 2012

The stress of falling seriously ill often drags along the frustration of having no idea what the treatment will cost. We’ve all experienced the maddening stream of seemingly endless hospital bills, and testimony by E-patient Dave DeBronkart and others show … read more

Seeking prior art where it most often is found in software

August 28 2012

Patent ambushes are on the rise again, and cases such as Apple/Samsung shows that prior art really has to swing the decision–obviousness or novelty is not a strong enough defense. Obviousness and novelty are subjective decisions made by a patent … read more

Smart notebooks for linking virtual teams across the net

August 13 2012

Who has the gumption to jump into the crowded market for collaboration tools and call for a comprehensive open source implementation? Perhaps just Miles Fidelman, a networking expert whose experience spans time with Bolt, Beranek and Newman, work on military … read more

Five elements of reform that health providers would rather not hear about

August 09 2012

The quantum leap we need in patient care requires a complete overhaul of record-keeping and health IT. Leaders of the health care field know this and have been urging the changes on health care providers for years, but the providers … read more

Technical requirements for coordinating care in an Accountable Care Organization

August 08 2012

The concept of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) reflects modern hopes to improve medicine and cut costs in the health system. Tony MCormick, a pioneer in the integration of health care systems, describes what is needed on the ground to … read more

Inside GitHub’s role in community-building and other open source advances

July 26 2012

In this video interview, Matthew McCullough of GitHub discusses what they’ve learned over time as they grow and watch projects develop there. Highlights from the full video interview include: How GitHub builds on Git’s strengths to allow more people to … read more

Democratizing data, and other notes from the Open Source convention

July 25 2012

There has been enormous talk over the past few years of open data and what it can do for society, but proponents have largely come to admit: data is not democratizing in itself. This topic is hotly debated, and a … read more

Social networks are not communities, and other discussions from the Community Leadership Summit

July 16 2012

The Community Leadership Summit this past weekend roused thoughts in me about the predictions and analyses I’ve heard over the past few years about social networking and to contrast them with what we were saying about community. I realized that … read more

The key web technologies that work together for dynamic web sites

July 12 2012

The technologies that led to an explosion of interactive web sites — PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS — are still as popular today, and a non-programmer can master them quickly. read more

Have a healthy conference

July 09 2012

In honor of the third health care track at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, I invite everyone to join me in five ways to have a healthy conference. read more

Health records support genetics research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

June 26 2012

Michael Italia from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia discusses the tools and methods his team uses to manage health care data. read more

Clinician, researcher, and patients working together: progress aired at Indivo conference

June 21 2012

SMART and Indivo offer a far-reaching platform for giving patients access to data and working seemlessly with other cooperating institutions. read more

How the federal government helps health care standards evolve

June 20 2012

In this interview, Federal Health Architecture director Dr. Lauren Thompson discusses the state of health information exchange. read more

Games for Health covers current status of behavior change

June 15 2012

A few existing and upcoming projects that illustrate what games are doing in health care, and some trends to watch. read more

Health care privacy discussed as an aspect of patient control

June 13 2012

Privacy is caught up with issues of security, clinical decision-making, mobile health, and medical errors. So the topics at this conference are relevant to all the issues health care advocates talk about regularly: data exchange and ACOs, clinical research, the use of apps on mobile devices, the Quantified Self movement, and… read more

Data in use from public health to personal fitness

June 12 2012

Releasing public data can't fix the health care system by itself, but it provides tools as well as a model for data sharing. read more

Health reform leaders focus on patient access to records as key barrier

June 11 2012

A convocation of trend-setters and organizational leaders in U.S. health care advised two government organizations driving health reform--the Office of the National Coordinator at the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the Dept. of Veteran Affairs--how to push forward one of their top goals, patient engagement. read more

Getting started with data-related explorations of everyday things

June 07 2012

Sau Sheong Chang describes the intriguing projects in his upcoming book, "Exploring Everyday Things with R and Ruby" and how other people can develop their own experiments. read more

Using Python for Computer Vision

May 31 2012

In this interview, Jan Erik Solem, author of the upcoming book "Programming Computer Vision with Python," describes the uses for some common operations, and choices programmers have. read more

Jon Loeliger offers some practices to use with Git

May 24 2012

After finishing the second edition of "Version Control with Git," author Jon Loeliger talked to O'Reilly editor Andy Oram about how to use Git effectively as changes to code pile up. read more

Health Information Technology: putting the patient back into health care

May 21 2012

In health information technology, we have a rare chance to ensure that the most affected members of the public actually have their own direct representative. A letter in support of Regina Holliday. read more

How to start a successful business in health care at Health 2.0 conference

May 16 2012

Great piles of cash are descending on entrepreneurs who develop health care apps, but that doesn't make it any easier to create a useful one that your audience will adopt. About the Spring Fling conference, enterpreneurship, and open data. read more

Lucene conference touches many areas of growth in search

May 11 2012

With a modern search engine and smart planning, web sites can provide visitors with a better search experience than Google. Why turn-out for the new "big data" track was lower than I expected, and other news from this week's conference about using Lucene big and small. read more

The state of health IT according to the American Hospital Association

May 06 2012

The letter conveys a rather sorrowful message about the state of health IT in the United States. One request--to put brakes on the requirement for hospitals to let patients see their own information electronically--has received particularly strong coverage and vigorous responses. read more

Recombinant Research: Breaking open rewards and incentives

May 02 2012

To move from a hothouse environment of experimentation to the mainstream of one of the world's most lucrative and tradition-bound industries, Sage Bionetworks must aim for its nucleus: rewards and incentives. Comparisons to open source software and a summary of tasks for Sage Congress. read more

Recombinant Research: Sage Congress plans for patient engagement

May 01 2012

The Vioxx problem is just one instance of the wider malaise afflicting the drug industry. Managers from major pharma companies expressed confidence that they could expand public or "pre-competitive" research in the direction Sage Congress proposed. The sector left to engage is the one that's central to all this work--the… read more

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Webcast: Crowdsourced news and professional journalists: pulling together to replace the tug-of-war
March 27, 2012
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes. Cost: Free This webcast covers both the threat and the promise presented to professional journalism by citizen journalism, social networking, and other crowdsourcing. We'll look at some of the proposals made by...

Andy Oram