James Plamondon is a technology evangelist, technical writer and inventor notable for his role at Microsoft, in the 1990s, in systematizing the theory and practice of platform evangelism.
Graduating from University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 1988, he relocated to Silicon Valley and wrote technical articles for programming magazines such as the MacTech Journal, Frameworks Magazine, Apple's d e v e l o p Magazine, and the WinTech Journal, while working full-time as a computer programmer.
He founded the local non-profit Bay Area MacApp Developer's Association (BAMADA), which met monthly at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, and was elected twice to the Board of Directors of the international non-profit MacApp Developer's Association (MADA), both of which were focused on MacApp, the first widely used object-oriented application framework. After defecting from the Mac developer community to Microsoft's Windows in 1991, he wrote a regular column for Mac developers in Frameworks Magazine called 'Postcards from WindowsLand.'
Mr. Plamondon's writings and community activities brought him to the attention of Microsoft, which hired him in 1992 as technical evangelist in its new "Bay Area Embassy," which was intended to make the Washington State company more accessible to developers in California's Bay Area (which includes Silicon Valley). At that time, he resigned as head of BAMADA, although he retained his seat on MADA's Board of Directors, as MADA sought to widen its scope to include application frameworks other than MacApp.
Mr. Plamondon later described his reasons for joining Microsoft as follows: "When Windows 3.0 caught fire, I realized that no matter how good my code, it would fail commercially if it targeted the wrong platform – so I became very interested in how platforms gained market dominance. Because Microsoft clearly understood how to make its platforms 'win,' in 1992 I joined its Developer Relations Group (DRG). There, I designed and executed strategies that established Microsoft’s new platform technologies as de facto industry standards, and gave internal [i.e., Microsoft-only] courses on the theory and practice of doing so." In July 2010, Mr. Plamondon took the position of technology evangelist with The Midnight Coders, makers of WebORB Integration Server. According to LinkedIn, he was later Director of Developer Relations for the Rackspace Cloud and then a Senior Consultant at Cutter Consortium.
The Plamondon Files
Hand-outs and transcripts of one of Mr. Plamondon's internal courses, stamped by Microsoft as "highly confidential" and collectively known as "The Plamondon Files," were released into the public record of the Comes v. Microsoft anti-trust case. The Plamondon Files establish that by 1996 Mr. Plamondon had become a leading theorist, strategist, trainer, and practitioner of technology evangelism at Microsoft, during the time in which Microsoft established Microsoft Windows as the de facto standard PC operating system. The Plamondon Files describe his systematic approach to technology evangelism. The widespread acceptance of his systematic approach within Microsoft is suggested by the statements of his contemporaries in Microsoft's Developer Relations Group, such as:
- "James [Plamondon] has become...the group's theoretician" (by Marshall Goldberg, p. 45)
- Mr. Plamondon is an "uber-evangelist" (by Darryl Dieken, p. 2).
- "everything James said is true" (by Marshall Goldberg, p. 66)
- "James was a student of ancient warfare, military strategy and propaganda. He was an older 'fatherly' figure who recruited young… impressionable engineers like myself and 'raised' us to be Microsoft’s chief technology warriors. James was famously and CORRECTLY identified as one of the principal figures in Microsoft’s 'anti-competitive' efforts." (Alex St. John)
His last known technology evangelism project at Microsoft was Project 7, begun in early 1998, which sought to get the top academic and commercial programming languages implemented on Microsoft's new .NET Framework and Visual Studio.NET platforms, which were still in alpha testing. Mr. Plamondon is consistently cited as initiator and executor of Project 7.
He left Microsoft in early 2000 (, p. 1).
The Busselton Challenge
In 2002, Mr. Plamondon won the RSM Bird Cameron WA Regional Achievers Award for his work with The Busselton Challenge, an Australian-registered not-for-profit community development Non-Government Organization (NGO). The Busselton Challenge, founded by Mr. Plamondon, was devoted to raising funds for other NGOs. The Award cited the Challenge's raising of $220,000 to preserve the Busselton Jetty; its establishment of a computer-maintenance training course at Busselton's public high school; and its establishment of the Busselton Public Library as a hub of self-paced, senior-mentored training in computer applications.
In 2003, Plamondon invented a novel musical instrument, the jammer keyboard, which he intended to market as the "Thummer" through his start-up company Thumtronics. The jammer combined several musical innovations in a novel way and is notable for its being designed in accordance with diatonic set theory, ergonomics and psycho-acoustics. Although his evangelism of the Thummer attracted considerable media attention, it failed to attract sufficient investment capital to cover Thumtronics' excessive R&D, requiring Thumtronics to cease operations in mid-2009. Some aspects of this work are documented in the iGetItMusic website.
His research on the Thummer was published in several patent applications and peer-reviewed scientific papers.
His evangelism of the Thummer's "Wicki-Hayden" isomorphic keyboard has led to its being adopted by DIY makers of jammer keyboards and multi-touch keyboard apps for the iPhone and iPad.
In 2012, while Director of Developer Relations at Rackspace, he filed a patent titled "Distributed Testing Of A Software Platform," to incorporate the detection of ecosystem-level bugs into a software platform's continuous integration process.
In July 2013, Plamondon joined the University of New South Wales' School of Education as a graduate student to undertake formal academic research into the potential application of his musical innovations to music education. His description of his research in UNSW's Three Minute Thesis won the People's Choice Award for Best Presentation.