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Mónica Guzmán

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

Category: Conversation
April 19, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Using a phone when you can’t hear or speak? Here’s who makes it possible

Priya May has been the voice of hundreds. “You have a customer using sign language contacting you with the Purple VRS system,” May, 31, spoke into a headset to the man who picked up at Seattle’s MOD Pizza. “I’ll be interpreting this call for you, OK?” “Sure,” the man said, kind of delighted, and from May’s…


0 Comments | More in Column, Conversation, People, Seattle

December 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Seattle team wins world’s largest media scavenger hunt

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…


0 Comments | More in Art, Conversation

November 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Four digital divides: Where do you stand?


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?


0 Comments | More in Code, Column, Conversation, Education, Identity, People, Privacy, Security, Tech Devotion

April 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Lesson from the manhunt: We’re all journalists now

"View from my house...crazy." Watertown resident Shawna England's photo of the manhunt got 13,000+ retweets on Twitter.

“View from my house…crazy.” Watertown resident Shawna England’s tweeted photo of the Boston manhunt was one of the most shared images early Friday.

Thursday night, after dark, monsters moved in Boston.

Friday morning, we woke to a terrifying thing. A policeman killed, another wounded and others threatened. A proud city on lockdown. A dangerous young man on the loose.

And something — the ground upon which we build our knowledge — had made another shift.

Not everyone felt it. But if you were one of the hundreds of thousands across the country caught mind and heart in the moment, maybe you did.

News is not just something we check every now and then. It’s not just a job, for some people, or an interest, for others. What goes on in our world and how we come to understand it tells us more than we know about who we are and how we’re connected. There are facts and reports and updates. Those are the bones. But there is also feeling, reaction, emotion. That’s the blood.

And it’s pumping.

News became a little less of an industry and a little more of a living, breathing organism Thursday night. It’s not a new direction. For more than a decade now, ever since anyone with a thought and an Internet connection could so easily provoke his species, news has become less controlled. More vulnerable. More, well, human.

It has not, though, become easy. In fact, news demands more from us now than ever.


0 Comments | More in Conversation, Disruption, Social

October 27, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Seattle library fact check experiment risky, but valuable

Nine Seattle librarians are doing something tough, unprecedented and very risky.

They’re fact-checking politics.

It’s happening on, the impressively thoughtful forum where Washington residents are helping each other decide how they’re going to vote on this year’s ballot initiatives, including hot-button measures on approving same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana.

When someone makes a claim another user wants verified, that user can submit it for a fact check. That’s where the librarians come in.

Thoughtfully. Carefully. But not at all quietly.


0 Comments | More in Column, Conversation, Seattle

October 13, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Why the Wild West Web must remain untamed

I got an email last week that made my day.

“While reading online comments on your column, I noticed that you post there yourself,” a reader named Mike began. “Sorry if I’m being a busybody, just would like the mental health of a fellow human to remain intact.”

You and me both, buddy.

Concern for your mental health is not something you hear a lot as an online commentator, but it’s definitely something you think about. I’d have a hard time doing what I do if I didn’t (a) accept that rude and even vicious reactions are part of the job and (b) get used to it.

But still. It’s hard to read raw, often anonymous comments on the open Web and not wonder how we managed to stray so far from that lesson Thumper learns in Bambi — “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”


0 Comments | More in Column, Conversation, Social

September 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Four reasons we won’t share our politics online

Facebook handed out Uncle Sam squeezable stress relievers at the 2012 Republican National Convention in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT)

With six weeks to go ’til the election, the political talk on social media is getting more and more intense. But if you’re like a lot of us, you’re doing what you can to avoid it.

“The purpose of Facebook is supposed to be fun and enjoyment between friends and family,” goes the description on a group called Keep politics of Facebook. “Why invite the controversy and discord?”

One out of five Facebook users have blocked or unfriended people over political posts, according to the Pew Internet and American Life project. And enough people cringe at political content to earn an app that promises to filter it out of your Facebook news feed nearly 70,000 likes on the site.

And yet, there are big issues in this election and sharing our opinions — especially online — can make a big impact, as I described in my Sunday column.

“I do think you have a responsibility to stand up for what you believe in, especially when it’s challenged,” said Maya Enista-Smith, CEO of the nonpartisan


0 Comments | More in Conversation, Reactions & Resources

September 18, 2012 at 1:15 PM

‘Maybe this is why we hate reading comments so much?’

If reading other people’s rants ever feels like it makes your brain hurt, there may be a reason why.

Seattle’s Sara Kiesler pointed out new research highlighted in Inc. magazine that suggests that being exposed to too much complaining can “turn your brain to mush,” according to Trevor Blake, author of the book “Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life”.

The research focuses on complaints in the office (Blake apparently is a serial entrepreneur), but it makes you wonder about how our brains react when we encounter intense negativity online, especially around touchy topics like politics.

“Seems like interesting fodder in a time when we hide Facebook posters who gripe too much and skip over the comments beneath online news articles,” Sara wrote in an email. Her subject line: “Maybe this is why we hate reading comments so much?”


0 Comments | More in Caught Your Eye, Conversation, Social