Seattle, City of Literature

Congratulations are in order to everyone who helped secure Seattle’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. This was an effort that inspired a lot of people who worked hard for this, and the designation is well-earned. Way to go, Bob Redmond and the rest of the board of directors. I’m proud of you. I…

Drinking from the Intellectual Firehose

Last night I had the pleasure of participating in an extraordinary conversation with a group that included two women pioneering mixed reality at Microsoft, an expert in artificial intelligence, a filmmaker just back from a trip to Cuba, an Amazon art director, an author, an editor, and an internationally renowned exonoree who advocates for the…

Tales of Two Cities

I live a minute and twenty-three seconds away from one of the finest bakeries in Seattle, Bakery Nouveau, a purveyor of croissants and macarons that has improved the quality of my life to the detriment of my waistline. The bakery is across the street from a small park called Williams Place, where some of my…

Year One at CoMotion Labs

Yesterday I caught up with Elizabeth Scallon, the Associate Director of CoMotion Labs. It’s been a little over a year since I started renting a desk at this VR/AR startup incubator overseen by the University of Washington. I’ve seen a couple startups come and go, while others, like Mechanical Dreams, Invrse, and Pear Med, have…

We Live in a William S. Burroughs Future

I haven’t played my vinyl in months, and my CDs only get played in my car. One of the jokes of my life is that I distinctly remember myself at sixteen saying, “Steely Dan is music for people in their forties.” Then, early in my forties, I had an epiphany, “Hey, I kind of like…

Everything is Working

This weekend’s Seattle VR/AR hackathon felt different. Once again it took place at Magnuson Park in a building usually occupied by UW construction students, with teams creating games and other immersive experiences. Team members camped out with Vives, Rifts, Hololenses, and all the gear necessary to bring their visions to life.  Developers gazed intensely at…

Dreamers

A little over a week ago my girlfriend Lisa and I took a walk along the beach at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. It was near sunset, the tide was high, and a ferry took its time getting to Vashon Island. A Latino family was celebrating someone’s birthday at one of the picnic stations, and…

Invest Broad and Shallow, Not Narrow and Deep

Last week’s Seattle’s VR/AR meetup was an opportunity to reflect on how the community is doing as a whole. I always look forward to seeing familiar faces at these meetups and enjoy catching up with people like Andrew Mitrak, Eva Hoerth, Jordan Kellog, Trond Nilsen, Bridget Swirksi, and many others. The same core of people…

How to Not Be a Tech Bro A-Hole

Silicon Valley tech bro culture is getting called out. More women are stepping forward to report harassment, sidelining, and misogyny in general at startups and established companies alike. I take news that such attitudes and behavior are becoming more unacceptable as a sign of progress. Our current historical moment reminds me of the early nineties…

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.