My name is Joe Lapp, and here is where I list the projects I'm working on. I live a dual life as an arachno-naturalist and a software developer. I'm studying spider taxonomy as part of a larger effort to help citizen scientists learn to identify spiders, and I'm creating software technologies that I hope will usher in a future in which everyone naturally contributes to our taxonomic understanding of the world.

I conduct occasional spider programs for children, parks, and educators in and around Austin, Texas, where I'm known as Spider Joe. I love all bugs though and sell silly & wise bug T-shirts at My software development background is broad and includes embedded systems, network protocols, parser technologies, relational databases, and dynamic web sites. I'm best known for contributing to numerous XML standards and technologies but hope to be better know for technologies still to come.

Project: Jopodia Tees

I've opened a T-shirt store for sharing my love for arthropods in drawings on a variety of kinds of shirts. I'll be exploring the silliness and the wisdom of bugs, including spiders of course. Follow Jopodia Tees on Facebook or @JopodiaTees on Twitter for your regular dose of the beautiful world of bugs. TO TOP

Project: Educational Spider Outreach

I enjoy sharing my passion for spiders with people and intermittently conduct spider programs for the public and for private groups. I prefer to take people out walks to look for spiders and talk about the spiders we find, although I will do presentations to pack a lot of information in a short amount of time for educators. I focus on showing people how surprisingly amazing spiders are, and I focus on the everyday spiders we see and not the ones typically found in pet stores or on TV shows.

I have scaled back the number of programs that I do and will gradually be sharing the material and approaches I've developed over the years on my new blog Be sure to follow me on Twitter too. TO TOP

Project: Spider Identification Research

Spiders were once the only animal I feared, and now they are my favorite animal to study. Biodiversity fascinates me, and it turns out that spiders are more hugely varied than dragons in fiction.

I wanted to know the names of the spiders I encountered, so that I could look them up to learn more, but I found that most spiders could only be identified by killing them and examining them under a microscope. This put me off until I decided that I would photograph the spiders live before killing and identifying them, so that the spider's sacrifice would have been for the greater good of all spiders. I now regularly photograph spiders so I can post their identities alongside their photos on the web.

Most of my effort so far has been with the crab spiders found on flowers (thomisidae) and with ground spiders that mimic ants (corinnidae). I have discovered species not previously known to Texas and as well as some that are new to science. I'm trying to determine characteristics that make it possible for non-specialists to identify these spiders without killing them. TO TOP

Photo of me by Anne Throop
Project: Improvisational Tai Chi School

I love to move, and fortunately with my injury complex, movement is still good for me. I practice an art that I call "improvisational Tai Chi." This art combines improvisational dance with Tai Chi technique. Done slowly with focus on breath, it serves as a centering meditative practice. Done more rigorously, it provides a creative form of aerobic exercise. Done as a group, with less focus on technique, it provides a way for adults to run around and laugh like children.

With the help of friends, I'm developing the techniques needed to teach the skills of improvisational Tai Chi. I plan to start a school for sharing all this with others and for leveraging other people to help me continue to grow. TO TOP

Project: Rapid Keyless Character Entry

I have an injury complex that makes it painful for me to sit or to stand in place for long. This makes it difficult for me to do much of my favorite activity—writing. I decided that there had to be a way to accurately enter characters into a tablet or mobile phone at touch-typing speeds, so that I could write productively as I moved around. In 2011 I came up with a way to do just this.

The approach I found is now a patent-pending technology (patent #US20140298266), and I'm now employing it to develop a gesture system that replaces the virtual keyboard in Android and iOS products. The gesture system works on any sufficiently sensitive multi-touch touchscreen.

There are no virtual keys in this solution, and there is nothing about the interface that a person needs to see. The user moves the fingers forward and backward while keeping the hand stationary relative to the device in movements that look like tickling. As with touch-typing, the user can keep his or her eyes on the text being input—or on the surrounding scene, about which user might be taking notes or writing poetry. CLICK HERE to read an introduction. TO TOP

Project: Short Works to Brighten the World

I love to write. I love technical writing and creative writing. My career has given me plenty of opportunity for technical writing, but over the years I have managed to find some time for creative writing too. I write to make people smile, to explore deep cosmic questions, or to highlight wisdom in nature. Most of my works are under 300 words. I plan to share my writing online somewhere soon, both past works and new. TO TOP