picture of James Raymond Davis

Jim Davis


Toronto, Canada


I work as a software developer, currently mostly in Java and Ruby on Linux. Earlier in my life I did some research on digital libraries, document management, and spoken language human-computer interface.

Technical Biography

The first image I had of computers came from my father, when he was a field repairman for IBM. He used to bring home broken circuit boards for me to play with. The PC (printed circuit) boards of those long ago days were a lot more interesting to look at than today's boards, they had lots of different shapes and colors. Of course I had no clue what any of them did.

In 1973 I entered MIT, where I studied at the Architecture Machine Group, the ancestor of the Media Lab. From 1977 until 1985 I worked in a variety of industrial and research positions, including the Multics project, and culminating in the Atari Cambridge Research Lab. In 1985 I entered the doctoral program at the Media Lab. My main pieces of work there were Direction Assistance (which gives spoken driving instructions over the telephone) and Back Seat Driver (which does the same thing in a car, while you're driving.). In 1989 I received a PhD, and after a year's post-doc I began to work for Xerox, first at the Design Research Institute, and then at PARC. At PARC I worked on WebDAV search, which, in November 2008, became RFC 5323.

Since then, I have worked for two startups (Coursenet and Intelligent Markets) in San Francisco. In 2004 I moved to Toronto. I'm current working for Amazon Canada.

What's here

collected papers
The papers I've published in the technical/scholarly world, back in the day when I did research.
unpublished writings
fun stuff for the Seder
Hacks, including SuDoKu solver in Javascript and Conway's game of Life in Javascript. More recent stuff is on github.
Free, unsupported old sofware, probably just for historical interest, e.g. a WAIS server in perl.
Pictures, including Death Valley (2002), Yosemite (2003), Patagonia (2006), and Nova Scotia (2021).

Personal Biography

This is brief, because all I really hope to do here is distinguish myself from all the other people named "Jim Davis". There are a lot of us. In particular, I am not the one who draws the comic strip featuring the cat (whose name I will not mention here, lest it make my web page even more likely to be found by those seeking that person.)

I was born in Berkeley, California on December 28, 1955. I went to high school in Suffern, New York (40 miles north of the city). In 1973 I moved to Cambridge to attend MIT. My son Adam was born in 1977, the same year I graduated. In 1985 I returned to MIT to get my PhD. In 1991 I moved to Ithaca, New York, and in 1996 back to Berkeley. In July, 2004, I moved to Toronto, Canada.

I played in some rock bands in Boston and Ithaca, New York. All were fun, none were famous. Before the pandemic, I was playing in Midnight Tomatoe, but I'm not sure if we'll reconvene when the pandemic ends.

I used to practice the dance form known as Contact Improvisation, and for many years was the curator of the CI web site, but no longer. It is now at http://www.contactimprov.net/.

Okay, am I the Jim Davis you were looking for? If not, good luck searching for the right one.

If you want my technical/industrial history, then please read my industrial resume.

Updated 14 April 2022