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Mónica Guzmán

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

Category: Disruption
March 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Will cyberattacks destroy the invention economy? Seattle-area analyst sees danger ahead

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you say you care about IP theft? IP what? IP is intellectual property. It’s the core of invention — the thing that gets protected so that good ideas become good products that make good money and inspire more good products down the road. If you’re like me, the…

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Money, Security

March 15, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Sitless in Seattle: Standing desks give workers a leg up

The office of the future might look a little funny. Peek over the rows of workstations in the marketing department of Tableau Software in Fremont, and you’ll see dozens of employees leaning into their screens. It’s a crisp, modern office setting that looks like any other. Except that a good fourth of the workers are standing…

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Habits, People, Seattle

January 18, 2014 at 9:54 PM

At CenturyLink Field, Seahawks fans want a win and a signal

Joseph Sunga is a happier Seahawks fan this season. The eight-year-season ticket holder will watch his team battle for the NFC title Sunday in what might be the franchise’s best year ever. Nothing tops that. But there’s something else. This season, Sunga and many of the 68,000 fans who’ve packed CenturyLink Field could actually, reliably, finally use their…

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Habits, Seattle, Sports

January 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Should you be coworking? New Seattle space signals shift

New York-based WeWork operates shared work spaces in three cities and opens its first Seattle space next month. This building in Los Angeles, like most of its spaces, features plenty of glass and light. (Photo: Design Helm for WeWork)

New York-based WeWork operates shared work spaces in three cities and opens its first Seattle space next month. This building in Los Angeles, like most of its spaces, features lots of glass and light. (Photo: WeWork)

The first floor of WeWork's Seattle space, which opens Feb. 1, will feature an events space near reception and a large room for open coworking. (Photo: WeWork)

The first floor of WeWork’s Seattle space, which opens Feb. 1, will feature an events space near reception and a large room for open coworking. Desks start at $300 a month. CLICK TO ZOOM. (Photo: WeWork)

Inside new construction on the corner of Yale Avenue North and Republican Street, builders are busy.

Seattle entrepreneurs are sporting hard hats to tour three dusty floors of 500 Yale Ave. N., and the crews have fewer than three weeks to turn its skeleton of wood, glass and metal into the largest, most ambitious coworking space Seattle has seen.

When it opens Feb. 1, the WeWork space in South Lake Union will show how neighborly work habits have become.

The 55,000-square-foot space will fit more than 800 workers — 57 at long, shared tables on the first floor and the rest in glass-walled rooms housing from one person to 18.

But what will make this assembly of desks a “coworking” space won’t be proximity. it will be pingpong tables. Unplanned happy hours. Regular talks and mixers on the first floor. It will be the free coffee and free beer (yes, beer), the décor fit for some hip young magazine and, if activities at any of the 15 spaces the New York-based company currently operates spread, crazy things like Mario Kart tournaments.

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Habits, Relationships, Seattle

November 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Scarecrow Video: How an endangered Seattle icon could win you back

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video on Roosevelt. Scarecrow’s video inventory is over 100,000. (GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

"We don't need to be a viewer's only or even main source of movies, but we feel what we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming," Lynch wrote in an email. "It's just that people have forgotten us or don't understand what they're giving up by letting us go."

REWIND YOUR WAYS: “What we offer can more than comfortably coexist with streaming,” Lynch said. “It’s just that people have forgotten us or don’t understand what they’re giving up by letting us go.”

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.

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Comments | More in Art, Column, Disruption, Entertainment, Habits, Seattle

November 9, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Media madness: How fantasy football is changing fandom

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles to get away from Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David in last week's game. The players earn points for millions of fans who manage fantasy football teams. (BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambles to get away from Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David in last week’s game. The players earn points for millions of fans who manage fantasy football teams. (BETTINA HANSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES)

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.

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Entertainment, Habits

October 5, 2013 at 8:52 PM

The Age of Context: When technologies understand us, will we understand them?

Author, blogger and tech enthusiast Robert Scoble answers questions about his book while sporting Google Glass over his glasses at a gathering of techies in South Lake Union Wednesday. (MONICA GUZMAN / SEATTLE TIMES)

Author, blogger and tech enthusiast Robert Scoble answers questions about his book while sporting Google Glass over his glasses at a gathering of techies in South Lake Union Wednesday. (MONICA GUZMAN / SEATTLE TIMES)

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.

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Mobile, Seattle, Tech Devotion

September 7, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Are wallets on their way out?

Is this goodbye? (Photo: Mónica Guzmán)

Is this goodbye? (Photo: Mónica Guzmán)

Last week, for the first time ever, I walked into a store and bought something with nothing.

I was at the shoe counter at Nordstrom, a pair of Under Armour sneakers boxed and ready to go. I’d forgotten my Nordstrom notes — coupons the store mails customers who use its credit card — and asked the sales associate to look them up. He did.

“Do you want to buy this with your Nordstrom card?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, opening my wallet.

“Don’t bother,” he said, looking at his screen and pressing a button. “You’re all set.”

Back home, I pulled out my wallet and looked inside. There was my license, the credit card I didn’t need, a bunch of business cards and gift cards I forgot I had and, tucked in the back, some stray $1 bills I didn’t remember putting there.

It’s hard to imagine a world without cash. It’s harder to imagine a world without wallets. But the way things are going, you have to wonder if we’re destined to lose both.

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Comments | More in Column, Disruption, Habits, Money, Privacy, Retail, Seattle

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