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Mónica Guzmán

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

Category: Tech Oops
June 15, 2013 at 6:58 PM

No smartphones on the table? Test your tech etiquette


Do you practice good phone manners? (Image:

Nobody likes the word “etiquette.”

It feels inflexible and draining, like a teacher whose only joy is pointing out mistakes. This is a time for breaking rules, not making them. Viral videos, Facebook revolutions, CEOs in hoodies. Anything goes.

Etiquette? We don’t need etiquette.

Except we really, really do.

Etiquette is about interacting with people. And with the rise of always-with-us devices and always-connected media we’re interacting with more people more often than ever. We had centuries to figure out if elbows go on the table. Do smartphones go there, too?

Welcome to the evolving, tough-love world of tech etiquette.

“Tech is miraculous. It’s wonderful. But we shouldn’t be using it to make excuses for ourselves,” said Mary Mitchell, Seattle-based consultant and author of the new book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Modern Manners.”

What guidelines have enough consensus to last? With the help of Mitchell and the many of you who shared your thoughts last week, I submit the following:


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December 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

In online reviews, fake raves feed mistrust

Brave woman enters restaurant without first looking it up online,” went the headline on popular parody news site

“Well, I haven’t pored over the menu on the restaurant’s website, read the first 20 Yelp ratings, or scanned any online reviews from blogs or newspapers, but here we go,” the article’s fictional character tells herself in the story. “Christ, I haven’t even seen a single picture of the food before on someone’s Tumblr page. I’m flying totally blind here.”

I laughed. Urbanspoon, a restaurant ratings app based here in Seattle, is on permanent standby on my smartphone. I know exactly what the article is talking about.

Last week I wrote my column on what businesses do to get people to follow them on sites like Facebook or Twitter. It’s a grab bag of discounts, offers, contests and the like, all in good fun and great for the bottom line.

But when businesses offer incentives in exchange for what become biased, fake online reviews, or flat-out cheat to skew their ratings, it threatens one of the most helpful products of the collaborative Web — the collection and organization of authentic public opinion.


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