Tom Coates (born 19 July 1972) is a technologist and early weblogger based in San Francisco, California who has been writing plasticbag.org since 1999. He has written extensively about social software, the web of data, location services and future media distribution and launched the Fire Eagle location service for Yahoo in 2008.
Coates was educated at the Norwich School, the University of Bristol and the London College of Printing. He worked at the BBC running an R&D team for BBC Radio, and before that he developed the geo-coded online community UpMyStreet Conversations. He has also developed online communities for emap and was Production Editor of Time Out's website. His professional written work includes film reviews for the BBC, contributions to Time Out city guides and comment pieces on technology for The Guardian.
From late 2005 until 14 May 2010 Coates worked for Yahoo!, initially for the Tech Development team with Caterina Fake, Jeremy Zawodny and Simon Willison. and later as Head of Product for the Brickhouse product incubator.
Coates' weblog has won a number of Bloggies including Best European Weblog (2001 and 2002), Best Gay/Lesbian/Trans weblog (2001), Best British or Irish Weblog (2004 and 2005) Lifetime Achievement (2005). He also runs the online subcultural community Barbelith - initially inspired by the work of comic book writer Grant Morrison.
He is also on the advisory council of the Open Rights Group.
In March 2008, Coates launched the Fire Eagle location brokerage service for Yahoo! at ETech. The service was opened up to the general public on 12 August 2008. Despite being well regarded as a significant contribution to location sharing and online privacy, the service was generally unsuccessful. Tom Coates has since left Yahoo.
In January 2011 he was listed in Wired UK's Smart List 2011.
He is an advisor for several start-ups including Lanyrd, the social conference directory created by Simon Willison and Natalie Downe. and founder of Product Club, a company that bills itself as doing "New Product Development and Invention". Coates has wired his San Francisco house up to Twitter as an Internet of Things-style experiment.
- Coates, Tom Upmystreet Conversations: Mapping Cyber to Space, The O' Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2003
- About Page, Time Out City Guides
- Contributions to BBC Film website
- Coates, Tom, Second Sight, The Guardian 28 August 2003
- Guardian Technology Blog 17 October 2005
- Web 2.0 Expo Talk Description
- Winners and Nominations, Bloggies 2001
- Winners and Nominations, Bloggies 2002
- Winners and Nominations, Bloggies 2004
- Winners and Nominations, Bloggies 2005
- FAQ, Barbelith
- plasticbag.org, 18 June 2007
- Evening Standard, 11 October 2007
- Evening Standard, October 2008
- https://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2012/02/features/the-smart-list?page=all Wired Magazine UK, February 2012
- Lanyrd FAQ
- Metz, Rachel (21 May 2013). "Home Tweet Home: A House with Its Own Voice on Twitter". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
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