Ward Cunningham

Howard G. "Ward" Cunningham (born May 26, 1949)[1] is an American programmer who developed the first wiki. A pioneer in both design patterns and extreme programming, he started coding the WikiWikiWeb in 1994, and installed it on the website of the software consultancy he started with his wife, Karen,[2] Cunningham & Cunningham (commonly known by its domain name, c2.com), on March 25, 1995, as an add-on to the Portland Pattern Repository. He has authored a book about wikis, entitled The Wiki Way. He also invented Framework for Integrated Tests.

Ward Cunningham
Cunningham in December 2011
Howard G. Cunningham

(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949
ResidenceBeaverton, Oregon, U.S.
Alma materPurdue University
Years active1984–present
Known forWikiWikiWeb, the first implementation of a wiki

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.[3]

Education and employment

Cunningham was born in Michigan City, Indiana and grew up in Highland, Indiana, staying there through high school.[4] 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.[5] He is a founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. 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, he worked for Microsoft Corporation 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, Cunningham joined AboutUs as its chief technology officer.[6][7] On March 24, 2011 The Oregonian reported that Cunningham had quietly departed AboutUs to join 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 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.

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 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]

Patterns and extreme programming

Ward 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

Ward 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 in the early 1980s, "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer." 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]


  • Leuf, Bo; Cunningham, Ward (2001). The Wiki Way. Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 978-0201714999.

See also


  1. Harry Henderson (2009). Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology. Facts On File. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-8160-6382-6.
  2. Lih, Andrew (2009). The Wikipedia Revolution, p. 58. Hyperion, New York. ISBN 9781401303716.
  3. "Wikimedia Developer Summit 2017 Program". Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  4. "Ward's Home Page". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  5. The Wikipedia Revolution - Andrew Lih, page 46
  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. "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. 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.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.