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Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

Category: Books
June 30, 2014 at 3:31 PM

#techbookbinge: ‘Smarter Than You Think’ leaves tech open to surprises

Now that I’ve finished “Smarter Than You Think,” I’m realizing that the thing I like most about author Clive Thompson’s approach is captured nicely in what follows each chapter title. A cursor style underscore_ Works that crunch technology’s goodness or badness like closure. “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr was last week’s read in my…

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June 22, 2014 at 9:53 PM

#techbookbinge: ‘The Shallows’ sounds a narrow but compelling red alert about our brains

I just finished “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains” by Nicholas Carr. It’s book 1 in my summerlong #techbookbinge, and it was — appropriately — a brainy start. Well, most of the time. Some chapters infuriated me. If an alien race read this book and knew nothing else about us, they…

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December 14, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Catching up with earlier glimpses of a tech year

Adam Baggett, Adam Wygle, Bryan Zug, Sara McNally and Scott Berkun (crouched) show off We Make Seattle coasters at Pioneer Square letterpress shop Constellation & Co. Thursday, the morning after their project to create a film celebrating Seattle was funded on Kickstarter. (Mónica Guzmán / Seattle Times)

Adam Baggett, Adam Wygle, Bryan Zug, Sara McNally and Scott Berkun (crouched) show off We Make Seattle coasters at Pioneer Square letterpress shop Constellation & Co. Thursday, the morning after their project to create a film celebrating Seattle was funded on Kickstarter. (Mónica Guzmán / Seattle Times)

Tech never stops. As we near the end of 2013, I thought I’d give you an update on some of the stories and habits we talked about this year.

Are you “showrooming”?

“It makes you feel kind of used,” Patti Harriman of Ravenna Third Place Books told me in May about showrooming. That’s the term for a behavior that’s putting local businesses at risk — finding something you want at a store but ordering it from someone else online, usually for less money, and sometimes right there, right from your smartphone.

It presents a conundrum: Do you buy a product at the best price, hurting the store, or do you buy from the store, hurting your wallet?

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October 19, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Do apps hold us back? ‘App Generation’ finds big concerns in small packages

appgeneration

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.

That, according to University of Washington professor Katie Davis and renowned Harvard social psychologist Howard Gardner, is where the trouble starts.

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May 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

‘Reverse’ showroomers browse online retailers to support local businesses

(Photo by MorBCN on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

(Photo by MorBCN on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

You know about showrooming, the practice of browsing brick and mortar stores for items you buy later online.

But have you heard of reverse showrooming?

Not one, not two, but three readers of my Sunday column on the rightness or wrongness of showrooming wrote in saying they did just the opposite. They browse online for things they like then go to local stores to pick up the items.

And they’re glad to put in the work.

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May 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Smart shopping or petty theft? Caught in the act of ‘showrooming’

Stores, online retailers and showrooming: The 'art of power' indeed.

Stores, online retailers and showrooming: The ‘art of power’ indeed.

Most days I go to Third Place Books in Ravenna, I walk right past the merchandise and sit down to work at the Vios Cafe in the back.

But one day last month, I had a minute to look around.

Sitting on the corner of the new hardcover section was a book about Thomas Jefferson that looked awesome. “The Art of Power,” it was called.

What I did next was pure instinct. I took out my phone and snapped a picture of its cover, intending to put it in my Evernote as a reminder to buy it later on Amazon.com.

Instantly, I felt awful.

I checked the price on the book. $35. No way it’s that expensive online, I thought. I wanted to keep moving. Had any employees seen me snap the pic?

The week before, I’d walked through Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill while waiting for my husband to meet me for lunch. “I miss not seeing bookstores as beautiful endangered species,” I’d posted then on Facebook.

Ah shoot, I thought. I have to buy the book while at Third Place Books, don’t I?

It was a classic case of showroomer’s dilemma. “Showrooming,” if you haven’t heard the term, is the act of treating physical stores as showrooms for products you later buy online.

It’s price-conscious shopping. But is it also, morally, petty theft?

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