Workhorses, Catalysts, and Visionaries

I have a theory that there are three types of workers in any enterprise—workhorses, catalysts, and visionaries. I’ve spent most of my career as a workhorse and it occurred to me recently that I’m evolving into a catalyst. The bulk of my workhorse years happened between 1998 and 2011. My first corporate job was as…

The Wave VR vs. 4DX

The Wave VR will be spoken of a hundred years from now as an early, formative masterpiece of its medium, like George Millies’s Le Voyage Dans le Lune or Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” I’d heard about The Wave as a VR music experience, and early video clips made it out to be some sort…

Fear of AI

Who’s afraid of artificial intelligence? Plenty of people, it turns out. What is everyone afraid of? Simply put, that a superior machine intelligence could make decisions that result in harming or enslaving human beings.

This fear has been cultivated throughout history.

Portal Opens the Door

Portal, a VR arcade and lounge, opened a week ago in Ballard within walking distance to the literal floodgates of Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. I popped in yesterday with my kids and found a welcoming, well-designed space where players can experience VR using Vives in ten padded booths. When you’re not playing, you can hang…

All the Young Dudes

Masculinity, that wonderful human trait that gives us the ability to pry the lids off pickle jars and start wars, appears to be a meta-theme of our present moment, running through institutions from the White House to Silicon Valley startups.

There was the weird revelation that Vice President Mike Pence won’t dine alone with women who aren’t his wife. The omnipresent scandal of Bill O’Reilly, Roger Aisles, and the culture of harassment at Fox News. The slow-motion car accident that is Uber.

Why do you like Ready Player One?

A few years ago I noticed that every bookseller I spoke to at Elliott Bay Book Company recommended Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s novel about a kid who lives much of his life in a virtual world designed by a 1980s pop culture-obsessed game designer. I read it in a few sittings and enjoyed the hell out of it. It had what I like to call idea density–a steady flow of new information that kept me interested the whole way through. The pacing was tight, the protagonist easy to like, and the cultural references continually pressed my Gen X nostalgia buttons. If you pay attention to the goings on in the VR industry, you’re probably aware that Ready Player One is given to every new hire in Facebook’s Oculus division, and that Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation hits theaters in a year or so. It’s a wildly popular book.

Culture = What You Value More Than Money

April, 1998. Amazon’s call center in the Securities Building in downtown Seattle. I spent much of that month in a windowless classroom with about a dozen other people learning to master the online bookstore’s elegant UNIX-based customer database. Most of my fellow reps in training were like me–in their twenties, opinionated about techno music, full of young energy. There was one rep, Walter, who stood out from the rest.