Tag Archives: TechFlash

Seattle’s invisible tech industry

Over at TechFlash, I opine on a topic I usually reserve for other venues — education technology,  specifically edtech companies’ oddly low profile in Seattle. Odd in that you’d think their presence on the Gates Foundation’s home turf would lead to the opposite result.

I suggest three reasons. Plus a potential fix or two. (And yes, I know I left out several Seattle-area edtech firms, such as SchoolKiT and TeachStreet, and local operations of Apperson Education and Promethean’s ActivProgress division. It wasn’t a lack of love, just space.)

Read the full commentary, “Seattle’s Invisible Tech Industry,” at TechFlash.

Bartering in the personal information economy

Over at TechFlash, I’ve opined about privacy and why we seem compelled to give up increasingly larger chunks of personal information for what appears to be free stuff. No longer is the classic New Yorker cartoon (“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”) true. Now marketers know you’re a dog, what your breed is and that, when stressed, you pee in the corner.

Yet as consumers we have leverage in our dealings with marketers like, uh, me. And it starts with knowing that our personal information is worth something. Read the full guest commentary “Bartering in the Personal Information Economy” at TechFlash. (It might have equally belonged here since it’s about both tech and marketing. But privacy is such a hot button issue these days, it’s as much news commentary as it is marketing observation.)

Thematically, this commentary is a sequel to, and has its roots in, an ad hoc talk I gave at Gnomedex 10 in Seattle in August. Chris Pirillo, who kindly posted the video of my Gnomedex rant, gets credit for getting me thinking even more about this important topic.

How science is destroying my childhood

If there is a defining interest throughout my career, it’s science and technology. I’ve written science fiction for magazines, reported on new science and tech developments for radio, television and newspapers, and consulted education and consumer technology companies.

So it may come as no surprise that I cherish my childhood memories of science — even as science itself is wiping them out, one by one.

Over at TechFlash, I’ve written a guest essay, “How Science is Destroying My Childhood.” It’s based on my Ignite Seattle 11 talk on the same topic but with a few facts I didn’t have time to slip into the five-minute Ignite presentation. No planets, dinosaurs or sea creatures were harmed in the writing of the essay.

The sense of a Gnomedex

This week, I spent two days attending the tenth and final iteration of a tech conference I’d never before attended: Gnomedex. Not only was its emphasis on the intersection of technology, society and culture professionally appealing, the sensibilities that drove the conference overall had a personal appeal that served to reinforce Gnomedex’ mission.

Over at TechFlash, you can read my guest commentary about the event, “The Sense of a Gnomedex.”

I also had the challenge of improvising a five-minute presentation at Gnomedex — on less than 15 minutes notice. You can see the result of my addressing the audience-generated issue, “Why is my digital privacy a marketable commodity,” in glorious web video here.

Journalists: certify or not?

In the interests of irritating those on all sides of an issue, I’ve posted a guest commentary on TechFlash calling for the optional, voluntary professional certification of journalists.

Why would I do something others in my former profession might think, well, is stupid?

After all, I spent more than a decade as a full-time news broadcaster (radio and TV), and then — after I moved to marketing consulting — still worked on the side as a columnist for Eastsideweek/Seattle Weekly (for four years) and KCPQ-TV Seattle as a commentator (for another four years). I should be one of the last people to call for journalist “certification.”

Years ago, when I read Algis Budrys’ 1977 novel Michaelmas, I wasn’t just struck by its prescient vision of a distributed, networked computer intelligence. I was struck by its vision of the profession of its protagonist: as a highly respected, freelance journalist, handling his own research, video and reporting — and selling his reporting services to the highest bidder.

More than 30 years later, Budrys (who died last year) may have hit upon the journalistic future I think we’re about to embark upon: that of free-agent professionals who are medium agnostic and can produce text, audio and video for just about any kind of media outlet, including one they individually control.  Think of it as blended reporting. Continue reading Journalists: certify or not?

Pix-and-mortar marketing

Over at TechFlash, I’ve contributed a commentary on the potential value — even for pure Internet companies which produce only digital products — in having a physical world presence.

For more than 15 years, brick-and-mortar businesses have been creating Internet presences for both marketing and e-commerce. But there seems to have been an unspoken hesitancy to promote moves in the other direction, from Web-only to Web-plus-cinder block.

Underlying the hesitancy may be a false assumption that the Internet is the ultimate destination for all business, and that a physical presence is a sign of the past. No company, it’s implied, should go out of its way to create a real-world presence if the business was spawned and is doing fine on the Web.

Yet it does pay off.  Continue reading Pix-and-mortar marketing

Gaming the recession

If you think video games are recession proof, question your assumptions. Because there is no single “video game industry” with one platform, distribution model and customer set.

I mean, you only have to look at companies such as unrankedsmurfs.com who are thriving in the gaming world. Their job is to help gamers who want to up their rankings without doing any of the work. They are able to provide services to avid League of Legends gamers who have league accounts, and these companies exist for almost every game out there.

In a guest commentary on TechFlash.com, I’ve outlined my thoughts. And I’ll stress test them when I moderate a panel of game industry execs at the Washington Technology Industry Association dinner Wednesday in Seattle.

It’s hard not to want to agree with people like Big Fish CEO Jeremy Lewis, who compared the appeal of his company’s casual games to Charlie Chaplin’s films during the Great Depression. Chaplin’s escapist entertainment was cheap; the medium, novel. The same is true of many games today.  And they’re far better than video games available during the last deep recession of 1981-82. Yet that recession ended with the 1983 collapse of the era’s video game industry. Not necessarily a great historic precedent.

So makers of confident pronouncements should be wary. Any recession proofing could be relative depending on how far the economic tide recedes — and which players are left stranded on the bottom.

TechFlash downturn commentary

Over at the new Seattle-area technology news site, TechFlash, I’ve penned my first tech industry commentary for publication in a bit more than four years. You’ll find it under the title of Web 1.0, Version 2.0.

It was a delight to be asked to contribute by site founders John Cook and Todd Bishop, both well-respected former Seattle Post-Intelligencer tech reporters who are now working with the Puget Sound Business Journal.

And yes, a certain line in the commentary is getting some additional attention.