Overheard In The Green Room: Monica Guzman

Apr 25, 2013

Monica Guzman is a columnist for The Seattle Times and Northwest tech news site GeekWire. I caught up with her in the KUOW green room before her interview with Ross Reynolds to talk about the latest tech goodies on her radar and in her smartphone, her new vlog, and what she does to get away from it all.

What’s a new tech trend you’ve got your eye on?

I’m excited about Google Glass, not just the gadget, but how we’re reacting to it. It’s very interesting that something nobody can really get, although now some people can, is already like, the big villain.  Such anticipations of violation of privacy, it’s tapping into so many technological fears, so I think it’ going to be the next irresistible, inevitable thing that’s going to come and that we’re going to have to deal with.

We get ahead of ourselves a lot with things like this. For example there was a bar here in Seattle that made headlines around the country when a month or two ago they said they were going to ban Google Glasses from their bar. And remember that this is a device that nobody here has. And what I thought was, wait, if it’s social faux pas to wear these to a bar, you’re not going to have to ban it, no one’s going to walk into a bar with them -- people want to go to a bar to be social. We are still human beings who want to be social. Those things are not changing. Technology does not change who we are, unless we really let it. And I don’t think we do; but I think we’re always afraid we will.

What kinds of awesome apps are on your phone these days?

There’s one news app called Circa that I am a huge fan of. So Circa’s a news app that splits up continuous news stories into bites, digestible points, and you scroll each point. You can share just one point, and you can see the sourcing of every single point, and I think that’s key. And I’m starting to look at Circa more than any other news app.

There’s a couple others, Sidecar and Lyft, I just wrote about them for Geekwire last week. These are apps that are about ridesharing, so people who want to be Lyft or Sidecar drivers sign up, get background checks, and use their own cars. And then this app connects those drivers to people who need a ride. It’s cheaper than a cab, and you’re encouraged to actually sit in the front seat and talk to the driver. So it’s a way to actually get to know people.  The larger tech trend here is, how can technology help us leverage and make use of those things we already have, but also share them?

These apps all sound very useful and practical. But what kinds of apps do you use just to completely waste time?

Yes, fun [laughs]. I just started Snapchat. Snapchat is this app that everyone’s talking about, you know: “The kids love it!” And it’s really interesting. It’s a photo messaging app. When you send someone the photo, it only lasts a few seconds, then it disappears, soon after the person receives it. So I’m texting my brother random little photos.

What else … what do I do for fun? I do all kinds of non-fun things for fun. So I’ll leave it at that [laughs].

You’ve been vlogging lately! Tell us about that.

I started that because I wanted to explore how to tell good stories with more than just words. I really enjoy live conversations, and I think a lot comes through in conversations between people, a lot more than words on a page. So, my husband and I do several of these, but our rule is one of us will come up with a topic, something we think will be interesting to talk about. Then we just grab a tripod and our iPhone and hit record. So the key is that it’s a spontaneous conversation, and what I’m learning is that it communicates not just the topic, it’s the relationship between me and my husband, and how we engage with each other, what I’m like, what he’s like. So there’s so much more being communicated. And it’s a new space for me!



You’re a tech journalist. So you’re always on the pulse of new trends and topics, hyper-connected to the Internet and social media. Ever just want to turn it all off sometimes?

Oh, all the time … oh my God, yes. Oh yeah. Definitely.


Wow. How do you do it?

I have an almost nine-month-old baby, and he’s been the most clarifying time management tool [laughs]. He is so wonderful and beautiful and so fun to hang out with, and I can’t tell him, oh sorry, give me 10 more minutes on this post and then I’ll go feed you. I can’t do that. He needs me now. So it’s been good to compartmentalize and let go, and put things in certain spaces. Also now, when he takes naps, I do my best work! There are just different parts of life that are so important, you just have to put your phone down sometimes and just live it.

This interview has been edited for clarity.