You are currently viewing all posts written by Monica Guzman.
December 7, 2013 at 9:25 PM
Maybe you’ve been to the Space Needle. But have you been to spaceneedle.com?
Seattle’s most famous icon just launched a new website, and it’s not what you expect. Like the Needle itself, it’s worth at least one actual visit.
And it’s going to take you … up.
“This is my favorite,” said Brandon Waterman. We were sitting in the conference room at Creature, the agency that built the site. He slid two fingers down the touch pad on his Mac to send us off the Needle’s saucer and on into space.
Spaceneedle.com has all the required info. Hours, tickets, blah blah blah. But first and foremost, it’s a trip. You begin at the base of the structure with an assertion that “Seattle starts here” and an unheard-of invitation to scroll not down the website, but up.
As you do, different pieces start to move in different ways. The outdoor elevator climbs, clouds roll past, a seaplane crosses a panning view of the city at dusk and factoid callouts await your click. They’re not about the icon, but the city, which makes sense.
The Space Needle has always been more about Seattle than itself.
December 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM
Well what do you know. They did it.
The Vatican Cameos won GISHWHES, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.
From the contest’s characteristically long-winded announcement:
And the champion, the numero uno team, the victor, the bee’s knees, the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the big cheese, the least sane team of all is: VaticanCameos!
The 15-member team, the subject of my latest column, includes five Seattleites. For a roundup of all the crazy things they did to deserve this, check out the story, the accompanying photo gallery and the Vatican Cameos’ own Tumblr.
“I am still in shock, but I think we totally deserved to win and I really look forward to celebrating over fish stew with my teammates,” Seattle’s Rachael Vaughn emailed after the announcement. Vaughn, a Microsoft attorney, was in meetings most of the morning and learned of the win from a dozen congratulatory text messages this afternoon.
Fellow team member H.B. Siegel, an executive at Amazon owned IMDB.com, used some tricks from the movie industry to make sure the team had good submissions. He borrowed a classification system of “could be betters” and “finals” from Hollywood to push the team to outdo themselves.
Vaughn has participated in the contest all three years. The Vatican Cameos were one of ten runners-up in last year’s contest.
What did they win? An all-expense paid trip all the way to British Columbia (which they find hilarious) where they’ll hang out with the zany creator of the blockbuster contest, actor Misha Collins.
Announcing the 2013 GISHWHES winners! (We're flying them to an island where i can force them to listen to my poetry.)https://t.co/5jpbWqU3qS
— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) December 2, 2013
— Rachael Vaughn (@rachaelvaughn) December 2, 2013
can't believe someone i was in a team with last year was in the winning team this year! congrats on winning Vatican Cameos!!! #gishwhes
— Sarah (@SarahGSykes) December 2, 2013
November 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Update: They did it! They won! Congrats, Vatican Cameos! More on the win here…
If you had walked by Rachael Vaughn’s office at Microsoft on any of three days in August, you might have been confused by the away message on her whiteboard:
“OOF for GISHWHES!”
“OOF” is “out of office.” GISHWHES, pronounced “gish-wes,” is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Yes, it’s a real thing and, yes, Vaughn, an attorney specializing in intellectual-property law, took most of a week off work to do it.
Oh, where to begin.
There was the seated Japanese tea ceremony in the elevator of the apartment building on 12th and Jefferson. The nun who swung from a rope into a river outside Vancouver, B.C.
There was the robot barista who served customers at a San Diego Starbucks, the storm trooper who folded clothes at Ballard’s Lunar Laundry, the woman who collected signatures to “pave all of California’s beaches so we don’t have to get all sandy to go swimming” and that time the guard waved Vaughn into the University of Washington’s Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics, because she wasn’t the first person that day to show up in a Flash costume and ask to pose with the particle accelerator.
November 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I hadn’t given any thought to Scarecrow Video in months, maybe years, when I heard the news a couple weeks ago.
As you’d expect, Seattle’s world-famous video store is in trouble. Rentals have dropped 40 percent in six years, despite efforts to draw people in with coffee, beer, screenings, all kinds of deals and even bar trivia, and owners are wondering if it’s time to fade to black.
The culprit, of course, is change. Video-store rentals hit their peak, $8.5 billion, in 2001. Last year, we spent as much on those rentals as we did in 1984, a measly $1.2 billion, according to analyst IHS.
Blockbuster Video, founded in 1985, operated 1,700 stores when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. This month, parent company Dish Network said it would close the 300 remaining company-owned Blockbuster stores next year.
Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough put out a call for help in October. Scarecrow is no Blockbuster; it has collected 118,000 titles and a lot of love. The store’s fans will step it up. Supporters of independent businesses will stop in on principle.
But what about the rest of us? I’ve done nothing but rent or stream from Netflix, Amazon.com, Hulu or iTunes for years. Same with most of my friends. I’d love for Scarecrow to stick around, but online convenience rules. Is there something I’m missing?
I went in last week to find out.
November 9, 2013 at 9:45 PM
Ian Allan gets bored watching full live games of his favorite sport. Davida Marion rolls her eyes when friends ask to hang out on Sundays. Marc Sells once yelled “Yes!” when he heard a certain someone had torn his ACL.
Is this madness? Maybe. It’s fantasy football.
I knew almost nothing about the booming $1.2 billion fantasy sports industry until a few weeks ago, when the Seahawks took on the Houston Texans. We served chips and hummus in the TV room, and Sells, a good friend, grabbed his phone and opened his laptop. While we rooted for our team, he rooted for his fantasy players, whose real life performance in games across the NFL would either validate or condemn painstaking decisions he had made that week.
More than 24 million Americans play fantasy football, and I’ve managed to avoid talking about it with any of them. This year, though, is different. This year, for the first time in my life, I’m actually following a season of sport. I’ve now gasped and jumped and scared the baby with some wild, out-of-nowhere shriek for nine straight weeks of soaring Seahawks football, and I can’t believe I didn’t get into this sooner.
November 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM
Maybe you’ve heard of the “digital divide.”
It’s a term coined in the ’90s to refer to the mostly socioeconomic gap between people who can access information technologies and those who can’t. The concept gave thinkers and policymakers a grasp on a new problem: For more people to prosper, the digital divide would need to be closed.
I’ve been thinking about digital divides a lot lately, but rarely in this traditional sense. Tech has come a long way in 20 years, and it’s raised all kinds of sticky new issues. It’s made me think: If we take a fresh look at what divides us in our use of tech, we might get a better grip on whether we’re headed somewhere we want to be.
So here goes: I think there are four digital divides that matter. As we consider them, ask yourself: Where am i on these divides? And do they all demand to be resolved, or in some ways, protected?
October 26, 2013 at 8:01 PM
They seem to fit the profile of new tech that takes off: They make a popular activity faster and easier, and they’re green, to boot.
So why aren’t electric bicycles all over Seattle’s streets?
“Sixty percent of the people who come in here say some version of, ‘I had no idea these things existed,’ ” Daniel deCordova told me last week. We were at MadBoy Electric Vehicles, his shop in Sodo, surrounded by bicycles that do things bicycles don’t do.
Next time you see someone pedaling up a steep hill as if it’s nothing, take a look at the machine. See a round bulge at the center of one wheel? That’s a motor. The thick bar over the back wheel or hooked to the frame? That’s a battery. The e-bike might have a throttle, a display — even, in some models, a key ignition. The rider can pedal a lot, or just a little. It’s not up to physics. It’s up to the rider.
October 19, 2013 at 9:22 PM
Are apps hurting us?
It wouldn’t seem to make much sense. Apps are designed to help; that’s the whole point. The best of these portable programs solve daily problems and promise routes to solutions so direct that they sometimes seem extensions of our minds. What’s the fastest way to my house? What’s happening around me right now? What do I do with this free moment?
Use apps long enough and “Is there an app for that?” is less curiosity than expectation. Couldn’t all of life be a series of apps — every question mapped, every path to an answer charted? You start to wonder how we’d get along without apps, and why we’d ever want to.
October 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM
At the back of the University Village Microsoft Store last Wednesday, Molly Bullard was teaching a class to seven eager people.
Brian Daniel inherited 40 photo albums when his mother passed away. Gene and Karen Smith have 30 27-gallon tubs of print photos to transfer to a hard drive. Gretchen Sill, who came with her mother, brought her laptop PC and her husband’s MacBook Pro. Both were stuffed with digital images, many of their 2-year-old son.
Bullard, 43, is a full-time photo organizer.
“If you feel you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone,” she told the class. “Everything’s not getting easier. It’s getting harder.”
It’s getting bigger, too. Humans took an estimated 86 billion photos in 2000. In 2012, we took more than 380 billion, all but a fraction of them with digital devices.
I’d go into my external hard drive to tell you how many pictures we have stored in there, but I can’t get up the nerve. That drive is a disaster — unsure, slow to load, a mess of folders with inconsistent titles. I have no idea what’s what. I get anxious just thinking about it.
We’re drowning in photos. And we need help.
October 5, 2013 at 8:52 PM
Clothing stores that know what you like. Self-driving cars that know where you’re going. Sensors that warn you’ll have a heart attack days before you have it. Bars that serve your favorite drink minutes before you sit down.
This isn’t fantasy. It’s the future.
It’s described in “The Age of Context,” the second book by tech enthusiast and former Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble and business journalist Shel Israel. The book is a parade of newborn technologies and an analysis of trends in mobile, social media, data, sensors and location technology that all lead to one compelling conclusion: The world we’re headed to is a world that knows us. One where commerce, transportation, health care, service and learning are transformed by technologies smart enough to not just meet our needs but anticipate them. It’s a world where we are safer, stronger and more powerful than we ever dreamed.
But there’s a cost: For the world to open up to you, you have to open up to the world. You have to share more and more of all those trackable, quantifiable behaviors we’ve come to call your personal data.