“We’re here to change habits, change lives,” James Norris told 100 people gathered on the first floor of Pioneer Square’s Impact Hub. “You guys are all part of a movement.” It was the kickoff to Spark Weekend Seattle, a first-of-its-kind, two-day event Feb. 1 and Feb. 8 that got my attention as soon as…More
Category: Tech Devotion
A new year is all about hope. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? How can technology help? This week I thought I’d hand the mic to Seattle tech thinkers and leaders and ask them one intentionally broad question:
What’s one thing you hope to see happen in technology this year?
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?More
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.More
How else could he have predicted with such eerie precision, in his 2001 Newsweek column Time To Do Everything But Think, how our devices would direct our minds? Somewhere up in the canopy of society, way above where normal folks live, there will soon be people who live in a state of perfect wirelessness. They’ll…More
“Fill in the blank with the biggest thing you feel is true,” I asked Hadi Partovi, reading off my notebook in a small downtown conference room. “ ‘Learning how to code is as important as learning … ’”
Partovi put his head in his hands and thought for a long moment.
“I would say it’s as important as learning the basics of science,” he said. “Anything you learn in sixth grade, learning to code is as important as that.”
Partovi, a Seattle investor and entrepreneur who’s sold companies to Microsoft and MySpace, is easily the strongest, most passionate advocate anywhere for the importance of learning how to code. In eight months his nonprofit, Code.org, has ignited a push from its small Second Avenue office to see coding taught in every American school. In China, students must learn code to graduate.
Here, 90 percent of schools don’t teach it. And in most states, taking a coding class doesn’t even count toward graduation.
But to me the most compelling argument for learning how to code is not about schools or even jobs, mighty as those motivators are, and should be. It’s about these basics. On Earth, atoms make things up, and gravity makes things fall. On digital, instructions code behaviors that build systems that every day run more and more of our lives. How we talk. How we move. How we exchange goods and services and information.
Code isn’t how a world works. It’s how the world works.More
Disconnecting from the technology that’s burrowed deeper and deeper into our daily lives is for a few a habit, for some an intention, and for others a nice dream. After I wrote about my weeklong disconnection while on a family trip to Colorado, many of you responded with some interesting reading material. Thing is, disconnection…More
In Estes Park, Colo., next to mini-golf and bumper boats, there is a big, theme-park-sized slide. You pay $1 per ride and line up on the stairs. Last week I saw a teenage boy climb four stories up and send a text all the way down.
My phone was sitting untouched in a drawer at the house where we were staying, along with my laptop and associated chargers. It was the fifth day of my weeklong separation from my personal devices, timed with a family trip to the Centennial State, and this kid summed up why I had to do it in five wasted seconds.
It’s a culture shock, disconnection, if you’re as tied to your devices as I am. It slows time, amplifies your senses and actually changes how the world feels. If that sounds dramatic, try it, if you still can. I was surprised, too. Last week’s disconnection is the closest I’ve come to living in another dimension. When I came back, I knew I’d have to make some changes.More
This week I’m going to shut it all off.
I’ll have no email. No Facebook. No texts. No phone. I’ll be out of touch. Out of the loop. I may get lost. Lonely. Even, sometimes, bored.
It’s going to be great.
You’ve probably heard this story before. Someone you know has disconnected for days from the personal technologies that grip daily life, or you’ve done it yourself.
This will be my third weeklong disconnection in as many years. My first felt like rehab, a sign that something was wrong. I wondered if it was an attempt to escape technology or recover some long-lost life without it.
Now I see things differently.More
Doug Menuez picked up his smartphone and sighed.
“You kiddin’ me?” he said, giving it a shake. “We should be at ‘Beam me up, Scotty’ by now.”
Menuez has been a photojournalist for 30 years. In that time he’s covered the Ethiopian famine, presidential campaigns and the AIDS crisis for the likes of Time, Newsweek and Life.
But the assignment he thinks most about these days is the one that never made it to a magazine. The one that changed the way he looks at technology and gave him a mission he’s only now beginning to accept.
From the late ’80s into the ’90s, Menuez photographed executives and employees at 70 Silicon Valley companies as they laid the foundations of our digital world, beginning with the one Steve Jobs ran after he was forced out of Apple — NeXT.
Watching Jobs work left a mark on Menuez — who now lives in New York — and not just because he makes unreasonable demands of his gadgets.
“I had to grow up and become a man and examine my place in the world because of that (expletive) guy,” he told me.
Like anyone who spends time with a legend, Menuez has a lot to say about Jobs. But it wasn’t what he said that struck me, but the enormous responsibility he feels to say it.More